Kenya arrests governor over attacks that killed 65

admin   •   June 27, 2014   •   1787

Kaingu Ngoa 29, receives treatment at the Mpeketoni hospital after he was injured following an overnight attack near the town of Witu in the Kenyan coast, June 25, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/STRINGER

(Reuters) – Kenyan police on Wednesday arrested an opposition politician who is a county governor in connection with gun attacks in his area that killed about 65 people, the government and police said.

“Lamu (County) Governor Issa Timamy arrested over recent violence and deaths in the Mpeketoni area to appear in court tomorrow, Thursday,” the presidential State House said on Twitter.

“It’s true. We have him with us,” Mombasa County police chief Robert Kitur told Reuters.

Lamu County is north of Mombasa County, home to the country’s main port.

Timamy is a member of a party which is part of the opposition CORD coalition, a group led by Raila Odinga, who has demanded a dialogue with the government by July 7, when he has promised to hold nationwide rallies.

Somalia’s al Shabaab Islamist group claimed responsibility for the attacks this month around Mpeketoni in Lamu County, but President Uhuru Kenyatta has dismissed that and accused local political networks and local politicians of being behind them.

Ethnic violence has erupted in the past, notably after a contested 2007 election when about 1,200 people were killed in tribal clashes. Lamu is an area where ethnic-fuelled disputes over land and other issues have festered for decades.

Odinga, a former prime minister who was Kenyatta’s main challenger in last year’s presidential vote, has said talks are needed to discuss security failings and other problems.

The government has dismissed the demand, saying Odinga is trying to manufacture a crisis to claw his way back to office.

POLICE ARREST 13 SEPARATISTS

Police also arrested 13 members of the outlawed separatist movement, the Mombasa Republican Council, on Wednesday and accused them of planning ethnically-motivated attacks similar to the Mpeketoni killings.

The Council denies any role in the Mpeketoni attacks and there was no immediate comment from the group after the detentions.

“The 13 arrested by police are suspected to be planning to attack four areas – Witu, Kipini, Marereni and Garsen – all in the coastal region,” the ministry said, saying they had planned an “ethnic cleansing attack similar to Mpeketoni”.

Officials said security forces killed five of the suspected Mpeketoni attackers last week. Police said they had not established their identities and no one had collected the bodies.

Many Kenyans accuse the government of doing too little to prevent violence.

Rights groups say the police often use heavy-handed tactics, such as mass roundups of Somalis or Kenyans with Somali links, only to free most of them, an approach they say breeds more resentment.

(Additional reporting by Humphrey Malalo in Nairobi; Writing by Edmund Blair ; Editing by Andrew Roche )

Balloon internet service flying high over Kenya

UNTV News   •   July 9, 2020

Alphabet Inc began offering the world’s first commercial high-speed internet using balloons to villagers in remote regions of Kenya’s Rift Valley on Wednesday (July 8).

The technology has been used before, but not commercially. U.S. telecom operators used balloons to connect more than 250,000 people in Puerto Rico after a 2017 hurricane.

The project aims to provide affordable fourth generation (4G) internet to under-covered or uncovered rural communities and has been more than a decade in development.

The service is run by Loon, a unit of Google’s parent Alphabet, and Telkom Kenya, the East African nation’s third largest telecoms operator.

“Kenya is the first country… to have base stations high up in the sky. Now we will be able to cover the whole country in a very short span of time,” said Information Minister Joe Mucheru after launching the service.

According to Loon, the airborne base stations have a much wider coverage, about a hundred times the area of a traditional cell phone tower. The large balloons carry a solar panel and battery, and float in the upper atmosphere, high above planes and weather.

They are launched from facilities in California and Puerto Rico and controlled via computers in Loon’s flight station in Silicon Valley, using helium and pressure to steer.

They also have software equipped with artificial intelligence to navigate flight paths without much human intervention.

During the launch of the service in the vast, semi-arid county of Baringo in the heart of the Rift Valley, Mucheru placed a video call to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Locals used to travel more than 60 km (40 miles) to the nearest towns for an internet connection.

Details of the commercial agreement between Loon and Telkom Kenya have not been made public. (Reuters)

(Jackson Njehia, Duncan Mriri)

Trump urges U.S. to halt most social activity in virus fight, warns of recession

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2020

President Donald Trump urged Americans on Monday (March 16) to halt most social activities for 15 days and not congregate in groups larger than 10 people in a newly aggressive effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

Announcing new guidelines from his coronavirus task force, the president said people should avoid discretionary travel and not go to bars, restaurants, food courts or gyms.

As stocks tumbled, Trump warned that a recession was possible, a development that could affect his chances of re-election in November. The Republican president said he was focused on addressing the health crisis and that the economy would get better once that was in line.

The task force implored young people to follow the new guidelines even though they were at lesser risk of suffering if they contract the virus. Older people, especially those with underlying health problems, are at the greatest risk if they develop the respiratory disease.

Reporters staggered their seating, sitting in every other seat in the White House briefing room, to follow social distancing measures.

Trump said the worst of the virus could be over by July, August or later. He called it an invisible enemy.

The president has taken criticism for playing down the seriousness of the virus in the early days of its U.S. spread. On Monday, when asked, he gave himself a good grade for his response.

“I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job,” he said.

Trump said a nationwide curfew was not under consideration at this point.

Normally a cheerleader for the U.S. economy, he acknowledged the possibility of a recession while brushing off another dramatic decline on stock markets as investors worried about the virus.

“We’re not thinking in terms of recession, we’re thinking in terms of the virus. Once we stop, I think there’s a tremendous pent up demand, both in terms of the stock market and in terms of the economy,” Trump said. The president has long considered soaring stock markets to be a sign of his administration’s success.

Trump said the administration had talked regularly about domestic travel restrictions but hoped not to have to put such measures in place.

He said he thought it would still be possible for G7 leaders to meet at the Camp David retreat in Maryland in June. Trump upset European countries, which make up a large part of the G7, by instituting travel restrictions from European countries without consulting with them first. (Reuters)

(Production: Katharine Jackson)

Streets deserted in Milan during coronavirus lockdown

UNTV News   •   March 11, 2020

A handful of people were seen on the streets of Milan on Wednesday morning (March 12) following stringent measures imposed to contain the coronavirus.

Shops and restaurants closed, hundreds of flights were cancelled and streets emptied across Italy on Tuesday (March 10), the first day of an unprecedented, nationwide lockdown imposed to slow Europe’s worst outbreak of coronavirus.

Just hours after the dramatic new restrictions came into force, health authorities announced the death toll had jumped by 168 to 631, the largest rise in absolute numbers since the contagion came to light on Feb. 21.

The total number of confirmed cases rose at a much slower rate than recently seen, hitting 10,149 against a previous 9,172, but officials warned that the region at the epicentre, Lombardy, had provided incomplete data.

The government has told all Italians to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel until April 3, radically widening steps already taken in much of the wealthy north, which is the epicentre of the spreading contagion. (Reuters)

(Production: Marissa Davison)

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