Kenya, Mar 1 (AP/UNB) — Police say the death toll from a car bombing near a hotel in Somalia's capital and ongoing clashes between security forces and gunmen has risen to 18.
Capt. Mohamed Hussein said at least 40 others were injured in the attack Thursday near a hotel and a judge's residence on a busy street in Mogadishu.
He said early Friday that security forces were still fighting to neutralize some militants holed up inside a building close to Maka Almukarramah hotel, which the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab said had been the target.
He said the death toll could rise as many of the wounded are being treated in hospitals.
Al-Shabab has targeted the Maka Almukarramah hotel, which is frequently patronized by government officials, multiple times in the past.
Dhaka, Feb 28 (UNB/AP) - Pakistan's prime minister pledged on Thursday his country would release a captured Indian jetfighter pilot the following day, a move that could help defuse the most-serious confrontation in two decades between the nuclear-armed neighbors over the disputed region of Kashmir.
Prime Minister Imran Khan made the announcement in an address to both houses of Parliament, saying he tried to reach his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Wednesday with a message that he wants to de-escalate tension.
There was no immediate reaction from India, though Modi earlier in the day warned that "India's enemies are conspiring to create instability in the country through terror attacks."
"We are releasing the Indian pilot as a goodwill gesture tomorrow," Khan told lawmakers. He did not say whether the release was conditional.
The Pakistani premier also said that he had feared Wednesday night that India might launch a missile attack, but the situation was later defused. He did not elaborate.
World powers have called on the nations to de-escalate the tensions gripping the contested region since a Feb. 14 suicide bombing killed over 40 Indian paramilitary troops in Kashmir in territory it controls. India responded with a pre-dawn airstrike on Tuesday inside Pakistan, the first such raid since the two nations' 1971 war over territory that later became Bangladesh.
The situation then escalated further with Wednesday's aerial skirmish, which saw Pakistan say it shot down two Indian aircraft, one of which crashed in Pakistan-held part of Kashmir and the other in India-controlled Kashmir. Pakistan later aired a video of a man it identified as the Indian pilot.
India acknowledged one of its MiG-21s, a Soviet-era fighter jet, was "lost" in skirmishes with Pakistan. India's Ministry of External Affairs said late Wednesday that it "strongly objected to Pakistan's vulgar display of an injured personnel of the Indian Air Force," and that it expects his immediate and safe return.
India also said it shot down a Pakistani warplane, something Islamabad denied.
Kashmir has been divided but claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan since almost immediately after the two countries' creation in 1947. They have fought three wars against each other, two directly dealing with the disputed region.
Both Indian and Pakistani officials reported small-arms fire and shelling along the Kashmir region into Thursday morning. There were no reported casualties.
Bangkok, Feb 28 (AP/UNB) — A temporary closure of air space over Pakistan snarled air traffic Thursday, especially between Asia and Europe, though some airlines adjusted by rerouting their flights.
In Bangkok, an important and busy hub for transcontinental flights, thousands of travelers were stranded.
Bangkok airport officials said over 4,000 travelers were affected. Those needing help were getting access to accommodations and alternative travel arrangements, they said, though some of those stranded complained they were getting no help at all.
The terminal was so crowded that the chief of Thailand's immigration police, Surachate Hakparn, tweeted a warning to "Please spare your time for your trip!"
The disruptions marked an unhappy end to a month-long tropical holiday for a group of 25 Danish students unable to board a connecting flight in Bangkok.
"The guard over there just said we have to go down to the basement to sleep. So we can't get any help or information," said Sara Bjerregaard Larsen, 21.
Thai Airways says it had rerouted flights to Europe outside Pakistani air space. Malaysia Airlines also said in a travel advisory on its web site that it was avoiding air space over Pakistan and northern India "until further notice."
The first available flight to London on Thai Airways, according to its booking website, was Thursday, March 7.
Pakistan aviation authorities said the country's air space would reopen as of midnight Thursday (1900 GMT). The government closed it Wednesday after Pakistan said its military had shot down two Indian warplanes and captured a pilot, escalating tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.
India also suspended flights though some of its northern airports on Wednesday. Those facilities were back to normal on Thursday, but flights both to the U.S. and Europe out of New Delhi were affected.
A United flight from Newark, New Jersey, to New Delhi was rerouted through London and later canceled, and Air Canada canceled flights from Toronto and Vancouver to the Indian capital.
Air China canceled its flight Thursday from Beijing to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. According to an employee of the airline's publicity office in Beijing, the status of other flights would be decided later.
The closing of Pakistan's airspace saw Gulf Arab airlines, which serve as a link between East and West in global travel, rapidly reshuffle their flights.
In the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, civil aviation authorities immediately halted their flights to Pakistan. Airlines in those countries include the long-haul carriers Etihad, Emirates and Gulf Air.
Saudi Arabian Airlines and Oman Air similarly cancelled flights to Pakistan. Pakistanis work in a variety of blue- and white-collar jobs across the Gulf Arab states.
Hanoi, Feb 28 (AP/UNB) — The nuclear summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un collapsed Thursday after the two sides failed to reach a deal due to a standoff over U.S. sanctions on the reclusive nation, a dispiriting end to high-stakes meetings meant to disarm a global threat.
Trump, in a news conference after the summit abruptly shut down early, blamed the breakdown on North Korea's insistence that all punishing sanctions that the U.S. has imposed on Pyongyang be lifted without the country committing to eliminate its nuclear arsenal.
"Sometimes you have to walk," Trump explained, adding that he had a proposed agreement that was "ready to be signed."
"I'd much rather do it right than do it fast," the president said. "We're in position to do something very special."
Mere hours after both nations seemed hopeful of a deal, Trump's and Kim's motorcades roared away from the downtown Hanoi summit site within minutes of each other, the leaders' lunch canceled and a signing ceremony scuttled. The president's closing news conference was hurriedly moved up and he departed for Washington more than two hours ahead of schedule.
The disintegration of talks came after Trump and Kim had appeared to be ready to inch toward normalizing relations between their still technically-warring nations and as the American leader tamped down expectations that their negotiations would yield an agreement by North Korea to take concrete steps toward ending its nuclear program.
In something of a role reversal, Trump had deliberately ratcheted down some of the pressure on Pyongyang, abandoning his fiery rhetoric and declaring he wanted the "right deal" over a rushed agreement. For his part, Kim, when asked whether he was ready to denuclearize, said "If I'm not willing to do that I won't be here right now."
The breakdown denied Trump a much-needed victory amid growing domestic turmoil back home, including congressional testimony this week by his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who called Trump a "racist" and "conman" and claimed prior knowledge of foreign powers' efforts to help Trump win in 2016.
Trump insisted his relations with Kim remained warm, but did not commit to having a third summit with the North Korean leader, saying a possible next meeting "may not be for a long time." Though both he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said significant progress had been made in Hanoi, the two sides appeared to be galaxies apart on an agreement that would live up to the U.S.' stated goals.
"Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn't do that," Trump told reporters. Kim, he explained, appeared willing to close his country's main nuclear facility, the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, if the sanctions were lifted. But that would leave him with missiles, warheads and weapon systems, Pompeo said. There are also suspected hidden nuclear fuel production sites around the country.
"We couldn't quite get there today," Pompeo said, minimizing what seemed to be a chasm between the two sides.
Longstanding U.S. policy has insisted that U.S. sanctions on North Korea would not be lifted until that country committed to, if not concluded, complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. Trump declined to restate that goal Thursday, insisting he wanted flexibility in talks with Kim. "I don't want to put myself in that position from the standpoint of negotiation," he said.
White House aides stressed that Trump stood strong and some observers evoked the 1987 Reykjavík summit between Ronald Reagan and the Soviet Union's Mikhail Gorbachev, a meeting over nuclear weapons that ended without a deal but laid the groundwork for a future agreement.
But the failure in Hanoi also laid bare a risk in Trump's negotiating style: Preferring one-on-one meetings with his foreign counterparts, his administration often eschews the staff-level work done in advance to assure a deal and makes summits more of a victory lap than a hardline negotiation.
The collapse was a dramatic turnaround from the optimism that surrounded the talks after the leaders' dinner Wednesday and that had prompted the White House to list a signing ceremony on Trump's official schedule for Thursday.
The two leaders had seemed to find a point of agreement when Kim, who fielded questions from American journalists for the first time, was asked if the U.S. may open a liaison office in North Korea. Trump declared it "not a bad idea" and Kim called it "welcomable." Such an office would mark the first U.S. presence in North Korea.
But questions persisted throughout the summit, including whether Kim was willing to make valuable concessions, what Trump would demand in the face of rising domestic turmoil and whether the meeting could yield far more concrete results than the leaders' first summit, a meeting in Singapore less than a year ago that was long on dramatic imagery but short on tangible results.
There had long been skepticism that Kim would be willing to give away the weapons his nation had spent decades developing and Pyongyang felt ensured its survival. But even after the summit ended, Trump praised Kim's commitment to continue a moratorium on missile testing.
Trump also said he believed the autocrat's claim that he had nothing to do with the 2017 death of Otto Warmbier, a American college student who died after being held in a North Korean prison.
"I don't believe that he would have allowed that to happen," Trump said. "He felt badly about it."
The declaration immediately called to mind other moments when Trump chose to believe autocrats over his own intelligence agencies, including siding with the Saudi royal family regarding the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and supporting Russia's Vladimir Putin's denials that he interfered with the 2016 election.
If the first Trump-Kim summit gave the reclusive nation's leader entree onto the international stage, the second appeared to grant him the legitimacy his family has long desired.
Kim, for the first time, affably parried with the international press without having to account for his government's long history of oppression. He secured Trump's support for the opening of a liaison office in Pyongyang, without offering any concessions of his own. Even without an agreement, Trump's backing for the step toward normalization provided the sort of recognition the international community has long denied Kim's government.
Experts worried that the darker side of Kim's leadership was being brushed aside in the rush to address the North's nuclear weapons program: the charges of massive human rights abuses; the prison camps filled with dissidents; a near complete absence of media, religious and speech freedoms; the famine in the 1990s that killed hundreds of thousands; and the executions of a slew of government and military officials, including his uncle and the alleged assassination order of his half-brother in a Malaysian airport.
Trump also has a history of cutting short foreign trips and walking out of meetings when he feels no progress is being made. That includes a notable episode this year when he walked out of a White House meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer over a government shutdown, calling the negotiation "a total waste of time."
Islamabad, Feb 28 (AP/UNB) — India's prime minister says his country's enemies are conspiring to create instability through terror attacks.
The remarks by Prime Minister Narendra Modi come amid tensions with Pakistan following the areal skirmish between the two countries in disputed Kashmir. Pakistan said it shot down two Indian warplanes and captured a pilot on Wednesday.
Modi spoke to tens of thousands of Hindu nationalist party workers on Thursday in a video conference from New Delhi.
He didn't mention archrival Pakistan but said a united India would "fight, live, work and win."
The videoconference was meant to galvanize his party workers ahead of elections due by May. Opposition leaders are criticizing Modi for the campaign event during the tense standoff with Pakistan.
Members of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party have called for more military action against Pakistan as tensions dramatically escalated this week between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.
Modi is to address tens of thousands of workers and volunteers from his Bharitiya Janata Party across the country on Thursday afternoon, rallying support ahead elections this spring in an event being billed as the "world's largest videoconference."
Opposition leaders demanded on Twitter that he cancel the event amid the tensions with Pakistan.
Twenty-one opposition party leaders met in New Delhi on Wednesday, releasing a statement praising the "valor" of India's armed forces and condemning the ruling party's "blatant politicization" of the events.
Authorities in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir have closed all schools and educational institutions in the region and are urging parents to keep their children at home amid mounting tension with neighboring India.
Pakistan's foreign ministry said on Thursday that a key train service linking the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore with India has been suspended until "the security situation improves."
Pakistan's airspace remained closed for a second day Thursday, snarling air traffic.
There was a complete power blackout overnight in Muzafarabad, the main city on the Pakistani-held side of the disputed Himalayan region because of concerns India could to retaliate after Pakistan said it shot down two Indian warplanes and captured a pilot the day before.
Pakistani police say troops deployed in the disputed region of Kashmir continued trading fire with India overnight, forcing villagers living near the contested frontier to move to safer places even as the two nuclear-armed nations appear to be stepping back from the brink.
Police official Mohammad Tahir says cross-border fire continued into Thursday but there were no casualties. Government buildings in Muzafarabad, the capital of the Pakistan-controlled section of Kashmir, are being used to provide shelter to those who fled from border towns.
This comes a day after Pakistan's military said it shot down two Indian warplanes in Kashmir and captured a pilot, answering an airstrike the previous day by Indian fighter jets inside Pakistan.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan offered peace talks and India's external affairs minister promised restraint.