Today In the News

Libya, Nigeria, Mexico, and Hurricane Irene

Libya
The focus of fighting in Libya appears to be shifting to the hometown of Moammar Gaddafi, where forces loyal to him are expected to make a stand. The forces trying to defeat Gaddafi have taken Bin Jiwad, on the road to Sirte, three times only to be driven back each time. They hope to hold it this time to begin the march to Sirte, BBC correspondent Paul Wood said. NATO airstrikes have also focused on Sirte. The military alliance said its warplanes targeted 29 armoured vehicles near the town, which is about 400 kilometres east of Tripoli. In the Libyan capital, sporadic fighting continued, and the water was reported to have gone off across the city. Gunfire was reported near the Tripoli neighbourhood of Abu Salim, where rebels had battled Gaddafi’s fighters holed up in residential buildings for most of Thursday.

Nigeria
At least 18 people were killed Friday in a bombing at a U.N. building in the Nigerian capital, police spokesman said. Police commissioner Michael Zuokumo told reporters eight people had been injured. Rescue officials at the scene in Abuja helped to pull the dead and injured from the rubble. Bomb squad officers and other security teams were also sent to the scene, deputy police spokesman Yemi Ajayi said. A representative for the National Hospital said there was a shortage of blood to use in surgery. Hospital staff and relatives of the injured have been going to the blood bank to donate. The attack targeted a building that housed 26 U.N. humanitarian and development agencies. The building is home to the main U.N. missions operating in Nigeria and may have had as many as 400 people inside. It is not clear who was responsible for the attack, though the Nigerian capital has experienced a series of bombings recently.

Mexico
Calling a deadly fire at a casino “an act of terrorism,” Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his top law enforcement officials vowed Friday to capture gangsters responsible for the deaths of 52 people who perished in a fire set by gunmen at the Casino Royale in Monterrey. Security cameras captured images of a dozen assailants pulling up in four vehicles to the front doors of the casino, spilling out of their trucks in mid-afternoon and entering the entertainment complex, which offers bingo and betting on sports and horse racing. As casino customers are seen quickly rushing from the front doors, some of the gunmen stand watching by their cars. They did not appear to be wearing masks, and with computer enhancements, the license plate numbers of their vehicles would be likely readable. Within two minutes and 30 seconds of their arrival, black smoke and flames appear in the security video and the gunmen are seen rapidly leaving and driving away.The Casino Royale is the third such establishment targeted this month in northern Mexico.

Hurricane Irene
President Barack Obama has warned Hurricane Irene, currently looming off the east coast of the U.S., could be a “historic” storm. Seven states from North Carolina to Connecticut have declared emergencies ahead of Irene’s arrival. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in parts of four states. The storm has weakened slightly to category two, with winds up to 150 mph (169 km/h), a strength at which it is expected to make landfall. Irene, which has already caused havoc in the Caribbean, is expected to hit the coast of North Carolina on Saturday before barreling northwards to Washington and New York City a day later.

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