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Kenyan court jails men over 2013 Westgate mall attack | Kenya

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Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hassan Hussein Mustafa found guilty of supporting gunmen behind the attack in Nairobi that killed 67 people.

A court in Kenya sentenced two men to 18 years in prison for helping al-Shabab gunmen in a 2013 attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall that killed 67 people.

Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hussein Hassan Mustafa were sentenced to 18 years each for providing support to the assailants. Abdi was given an additional 15-year jail sentence for possession of materials promoting “terrorism”.

“This court has to pass a sentence … commensurate with the offence,” Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi told the two on Friday as they stood in a Nairobi courtroom.

He said the seven years the men spent on remand would be deducted from their sentences.

The attack on the upscale mall, a favourite of Kenya’s growing middle class and foreign workers, happened two years after the East African nation sent troops into Somalia following a series of kidnappings and raids on Kenyan soil by the armed group al-Shabab.

Al-Shabab has promised retribution for Kenya for sending troops to fight the group in Somalia since 2011.

Although there was no specific evidence the convicted pair had provided material help, the court was satisfied their communication with the attackers amounted to supporting the armed rampage, and justified the guilty verdict for conspiracy.

A third defendant, Liban Abdullah Omar, was acquitted in the trial, which concluded on October 7. He was abducted by a group of gunmen a day after being released from custody and his whereabouts is still unknown.

Kenyan authorities’ disorganised response to the Westgate attack deeply damaged the country’s reputation.

Soldiers and police fired at each other during a chaotic four days and footage emerged of soldiers looting the complex as bodies lay sprawled on the bloodstained floors.

‘Peripheral responsibility’

Defence lawyer Mbugua Mureithi pleaded for leniency for his client, saying Abdi has accepted the court’s findings and was remorseful, though he maintains his innocence.

Mureithi urged a custodial sentence for Abdi, allowing him to report to a police station from time to time, because he was a first offender.

“His responsibility is peripheral other than the communication interlinks between him and the actual men who killed our people,” Mureithi said. “There is no evidence that he provided them with the logistics or finances or any other form of tangible support to execute our people.”

Abdi asked the court to consider his family situation as well: “My father is suffering from cancer and I’m the oldest,” he said.

Mustafah also asked for leniency, saying he needed to look after his elderly parents.



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US says it has jabbed 82 million people, topping the world | Coronavirus pandemic News

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But coronavirus rates have plateaued over the past week, raising concern over yet another surge in cases and deaths.

The United States has administered 82 million coronavirus vaccine shots, White House officials announced on Friday, more than any other country in the world.

During a coronavirus task force news conference, health officials said 55 percent of Americans aged 65 and older have now received at least one shot, up from 8 percent just six weeks ago.

“Altogether we’ve administered more than 82 million shots, more than any country in the world,” said Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for the COVID-19 response team.

But the US has also suffered more deaths than any other country in the world – more than 518,000 Americans have lost their lives to the disease.

President Joe Biden has set a goal of 100 million vaccines administered during his first 100 days in office [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

US President Joe Biden who took office in January has promised to make tackling the pandemic a top priority for his administration and has set a target to vaccinate 100 million Americans by early May – to coincide with his 100 days in office. He has said the country is well under way to meeting that goal.

Officials say 450 vaccination sites have been set up around the country which has sped up the effort and they have plans to open up more sites as vaccine supplies increase over the next weeks.

In an effort to further boost the campaign, last week the US gave emergency approval to use a third vaccine produced by drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. Biden has also announced that the US will manufacture the J&J vaccine, a shot that requires only one dose, further speeding up the effort.

But even with the vaccination campaign well under way, officials said deaths and infection rates have plateaued in recent days, indicating that the nation could be at risk of yet another surge.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said amid the rapid spread of new variants across the country, Americans need to ‘double down’ on protection measures of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and frequent hand washing [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, said over the past week, there have been daily 60,000-70,000 new coronavirus cases, and 1,900 Americans have been dying every day.

“The current numbers remain concerning,” Walensky said, “cases and deaths are still too high, and have now plateaued for more than week.”

Amid the rapid spread of new variants, which have been detected in 48 US states, she urged Americans need to “double down” on protection measures of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and frequent hand washing.

“I know that the idea of relaxing mask wearing and getting back to every day activities is appealing,” she said, “but we’re not there yet.”

Several states have in recent days announced the easing of coronavirus restrictions on businesses and have lifted statewide mandates to wear masks. Health officials have responded with concern and urged Americans to continue to wear masks and follow precautions set under federal guidelines.

Biden blasted the decisions by state governors on Thursday, calling it “a big mistake” and “the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking.”

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor said the current numbers are an indication of a likely fourth surge in cases.

“When you have that much viral activity in a plateau it almost invariably means that you are at risk for another spike,” he said.

During the briefing on Friday, officials also announced that the CDC is working on publishing guidance for fully vaccinated individuals, indicating which activities they may or may not be able to resume.



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