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Friday, November 8, 2013

Deadly Car Bombing in Mogadishu

The Hotel Maka, on Mogadishu’s busy and nominally secured Maka Mukaramah road (linking the Somalian presidential palace to the airport) was the site of a fatal bombing today. At least six people were killed, and according to Interior Minister Abdikarim Hussein Guled, 15 others were injured after a car exploded, igniting several nearby vehicles. While Mogadishu’s expatriate community has frequently been targeted by al-Shabaab, the group that was driven out of the capital by African troops two years ago, there was no immediate claim of responsibility for today’s blast. Somalian Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon released a statement shortly after the bombing saying, “I condemn this attack in the strongest terms and send my condolences to the families and friends of all the innocent victims who were killed and wounded. Once again the enemies of peace show their true colors to the world.”

Police Bust Up Anti-Walmart Protest

Outside the recently opened Walmart in the Chinatown district of Los Angeles, police arrested more than a quarter of the approximately 200 workers protesting the company’s treatment of employees. While the gathering remained peaceful throughout, police declared the demonstration unlawful when a number of protesters sat in the street and then refused to disperse. Richard Reynoso, who works as an overnight stocker at the Walmart store in Duarte, California, was among the handful of Walmart employees arrested with the protestors. “I got arrested today because I believe that taking this step will encourage others to be brave and step forward and stand up to the world’s largest retailer,” said Reynoso, who has worked for the company for more than a year. “Walmart can’t silence me.”

Court Indicts 15 Former KLA Members for War Crimes

As a part of EULEX, the EU’s rule of law mission, Kosovo’s Mitrovica Basic Court has filed charges against 15 former members of the Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës (KLA) suspected of torturing and murdering civilians during the 1998-99 war against Serbia. A number of the indicted, like Sami Lushtaku, the mayor of Srbica, and Sylejman Selimi, Kosovo’s ambassador to Albania, are members of the ruling Democratic Party of Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi. Thaçi led the KLA in their separatist war against Yugoslavia and Serbia.

Today’s case represents just the third high-profile case since the court’s establishment as EULEX has experienced significant pushback from the Kosovar government and populace. Many of those facing war crimes charges are celebrated as heroes of the Kosovar revolution. This summer, three former KLA commanders were convicted for abusing civilian detainees in a rebel-run prison. But two months ago, the former top KLA commander and now senior Democratic Party member, Fatmir Limaj, alongside nine others, was acquitted after a EULEX indictment accused him of abusing civilians at a detention centre.

Saudi Nuclear Weapons

Reporting by the BBC suggests Saudi Arabia has at least one nuclear weapon ‘on order’ from Pakistan. While suspicions that the kingdom might be preparing for a nuclear future have been swirling for decades and despite being a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, various Saudi diplomats have recently made it clear, should Iran develop nuclear weapons capacity, Saudi Arabia will not hesitate to acquire such weapons of its own.

When contacted, the Pakistani and Saudi governments both cast aspersions on the mounting allegations. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry told the BBC that Pakistan “is a responsible nuclear weapon state with robust command and control structures and comprehensive export controls.”
While the Saudi embassy in the U.K. pointed out that it was a member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, officials there also suggested the UN’s “failure to make the Middle East a nuclear free zone is one of the reasons the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia rejected the offer of a seat on the UN Security Council”.

Weekend Read: The A-Team Killings

Last spring, corpses belonging to 10 villagers were unearthed outside a U.S. Special Forces base in Wardak, Afghanistan. Matthieu Aikins explores this grisly scene in an essay for Rolling Stone.

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