DUBAI: Four Emirati soldiers and a Bahraini officer were killed following an attack in Somalia, where they were training the Somali national army, the United Arab Emirates announced. The soldiers were “exposed to a terrorist act” while “performing their work duties in training and qualifying the Somali Armed Forces”, the UAE’s defense ministry said in a statement on Saturday, adding that three Emirati soldiers and a Bahraini officer were killed. A fourth Emirati soldier, who was among two injured in the attack, “passed away upon arrival” in the UAE on Sunday, the official WAM news agency said, raising the overall death toll.
Kuwait on Sunday strongly condemned the attack, describing the incident as an act of “terrorism”. Kuwait stands in solidarity with Abu Dhabi and Manama in the wake of this “horrific attack”, according to a foreign ministry statement, emphasizing it is imperative to ramp up global cooperation to fight the “scourge” of terrorism, and extending its “deepest” condolences to the families of the soldiers who died.
HH the Amir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent cables of condolences Sunday to UAE President Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Bahrain King Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa, expressing condolences over the “terrorist” attack. HH the Amir prayed to Allah Almighty to bless the victims’ souls, wishing the wounded speedy recovery. HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Dr Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah sent similar cables of condolences to the Gulf leaders.
The corpses arrived in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi on board a military aircraft, according to WAM, which carried footage of three coffins draped in Emirati flags being carried on a red carpet across the tarmac during a military ceremony. The UAE “continues to coordinate and cooperate with the Somali government in investigating the sinful terrorist act”, the defense ministry statement said.
A Somali military source told AFP that the gunman was a member of the Somali army who opened fire inside a training camp in the capital Mogadishu, killing and injuring an unknown number of people including soldiers from the UAE. “The shooting was carried out by a member of the army who stayed in the camp. He was killed in the shooting,” said a senior Somali army official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security matters.
The attack was claimed by Al-Shabaab, a militant group aligned with Al-Qaeda that has waged a violent insurgency against Somalia’s central government and its foreign backers for over 15 years.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud sent his condolences “to the government and the people of the United Arab Emirates over the death of the military officers in Mogadishu who came to assist in rebuilding the Somali army”.
“We condemn in our strongest terms this heinous act in which these officers were killed. I have instructed an urgent investigation on the matter,” he said in a post on X. The United Arab Emirates and Somalia signed a military and security cooperation agreement in January 2023. – Agencies
GAZA: Hamas warned the Zionist entity on Sunday that a ground offensive into Gaza’s far-southern city of Rafah, crowded with displaced Palestinians, would imperil the release of captives held by fighters in the besieged territory. Foreign governments, including the Zionist entity’s key ally the United States, and aid groups have voiced deep concern over Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow to extend operations.
Rafah, on the border with Egypt, has remained the last refuge for Palestinians fleeing the Zionist entity’s relentless bombardment elsewhere in the Gaza Strip in its war against Hamas. “Any attack by the occupation army on the city of Rafah would torpedo the exchange negotiations,” a Hamas leader told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The Zionist premier has told troops to prepare to go into the city which now hosts more than half of Gaza’s total population, spurring concern about the impact on displaced civilians. Netanyahu told US broadcaster ABC News that those who urged the Zionist entity not to go into Rafah were effectively giving Hamas a license to remain.
In an interview aired Sunday, Netanyahu insisted the Rafah operation would go ahead “while providing safe passage for the civilian population so they can leave”. When pressed about where the population was supposed to go, Netanyahu said: “You know, the areas that we’ve cleared north of Rafah, plenty of areas there. But, we are working out a detailed plan.”
Some 1.4 million people have crowded into Rafah, with many living in tents amid increasingly scarce supplies of food, water and medicine. Mediators have held new talks in Cairo for a pause in the fighting and the release of at least some of the 132 captives the Zionist entity says are still in Gaza, including 29 thought to be dead. Hamas’ military wing on Sunday said two hostages had been killed and eight others seriously wounded in Zionist bombardment in recent days.
Zionist strikes have long hit targets in Rafah, and combat on Sunday seemed intense several kilometers to the north in Khan Yunis city, where AFP correspondents heard regular explosions and saw plumes of black smoke. Gaza’s health ministry on Sunday reported 112 deaths over the previous 24 hours, and Hamas authorities added there had been dozens of air strikes, including on Rafah.
The Zionist entity’s relentless offensive in Gaza has killed at least 28,176 people, mostly women and children. US President Joe Biden, in his strongest criticism of the Zionist entity yet, described the Zionist response on Thursday as “over the top”. Netanyahu told ABC News he appreciated Biden’s “support for (the Zionist entity) since the beginning of the war,” but that he did not “know exactly what he meant by that”. Netanyahu also claimed Zionist forces have “killed and wounded... about 12,000 fighters” of Hamas.
The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) were some of the latest to raise the alarm over the plan for Rafah, Gaza’s last major population center that Zionist troops have yet to enter. “The OIC strongly warned that the continuation and expansion of the (Zionist) military aggression is part of rejected attempts to forcibly expel the Palestinian people from their land,” the 57-nation Jeddah-based bloc said on social media. It stressed “that such acts fall under genocide and would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe and collective massacre”.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also rejected “forced” displacement of people from Rafah, evoking the trauma of Palestinians’ mass exodus and forced displacement around the time of the Zionist entity’s creation in 1948. Denouncing a “genocide” in Gaza, thousands rallied Sunday in Morocco’s capital Rabat and called on their government to undo a 2020 normalization pact with the Zionist entity.
A French foreign ministry spokesman said “a large-scale (Zionist) offensive in Rafah would create a catastrophic humanitarian situation” and could lead to “disaster”. Earlier in the Gaza war the Zionist military called on residents to evacuate areas “for their safety”. But Gazans, driven further and further south, have repeatedly said they can find no safe refuge from the fighting and bombing.
Farah Muhammad, 39, a mother of five displaced from northern Gaza, was at a loss to know what to do if troops move in to Rafah. “There is no place to escape,” she said. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on social media platform X that “the people in Gaza cannot disappear into thin air”.
Saudi Arabia called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting, while Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron said the priority “must be an immediate pause in the fighting to get aid in and hostages out”. Netanyahu, whose coalition government includes far-right politicians, faces calls for early elections and mounting protests over his failure to bring home the hostages. “It’s clear Netanyahu is dragging out the war. He has no idea what to do on the day after,” one protester, Gil Gordon, said in Tel Aviv. Efrat Machikwa, a niece of captive Gadi Mozes, said Zionists “are with us, but we don’t feel the government is”. – AFP