In brief: Kenyan troops put squeeze on insurgents
Mogadishu, Somalia – Kenyan troops invaded al-Shabab’s last stronghold in Somalia on Friday, coming ashore in a predawn beach landing at Kismayo that appeared likely to deprive the Islamist insurgents of their last big money-making enterprise.
African Union troops from Kenya, Uganda and Burundi have combined over the last 18 months to kick al-Shabab out of the capital Mogadishu and take a series of smaller towns that the insurgents fled to. By Friday afternoon, Kenyan Defense Forces said its ground troops were also steadily approaching Kismayo from the west.
Al-Shabab, which is allied with al-Qaida, had earned money by collecting taxes on goods arriving at the Indian Ocean port, so the loss of the stronghold would be a double blow to the armed fundamentalist group.
The assault is likely to send al-Shabab fighters underground. Hard-core fighters may unleash suicide bombs and ambushes but less dedicated fighters could melt back into their communities, further reducing al-Shabab’s strength.
China leaders give boot to troubled rising star
Beijing – China’s Communist leadership expelled Bo Xilai from the ruling party Friday and sought to bury him with charges ranging from corruption to sexual affairs, aiming to sweep away their most damaging scandal in decades while finally scheduling their long-awaited leadership transition for November.
A statement from the party’s Politburo amounted to a surprisingly strong and wide-ranging indictment against Bo, effectively ending the public life of the flamboyant 63-year-old populist who was one of China’s best-known politicians and whose ambition was considered a menace to the country’s top leaders.
The former Politburo member and regional party chief is to be charged with crimes dating back more than a decade, including abuse of power, bribe taking and improper relations with several women – banned by the party because they are considered an inducement to corruption. He also is accused of involvement in the cover-up of his wife’s murder of a British businessman, which was instrumental in triggering his downfall.
The scandal was set off when a trusted Bo aide disclosed that his boss’s wife had murdered a British businessman. Bo was sacked as party chief of the city of Chongqing; his wife, Gu Kailai, was given a suspended death sentence after confessing to the murder; and the aide, Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun, received a 15-year prison term for initially covering up the murder and other misdeeds.