News in Brief

Suicide bomber kills 16 in Somalia cafe attack

A suicide bomber killed at least 16 people Saturday in an attack on a cafe in a Somali town close to the Ethiopian border frequented by local and foreign soldiers fighting al Qaeda-linked rebels. Al Shabaab said it had carried out the bombing, in the town of Baladweyne, targeting troops participating in an African Union peacekeeping force fighting the Somali Islamist group. “A man with an explosives jacket entered unexpectedly in the tea shop where soldiers and civilians sat ... and blew himself up,” said local elder Ahmed Nur, speaking from the scene of the blast. At least 16 people were killed and 33 wounded, local politician Dahir Amin Jesow told Reuters by telephone from Baladweyne. “The death toll may rise.” Somali and African forces pushed Al Shabaab out of Baladweyne, about 210 miles north of Mogadishu, more than a year ago. (Reuters)

Mali boat accident toll more than triples, to 72

The death toll from a boat accident in Mali last week has more than tripled to 72 after more bodies were found, the government said Saturday. The accident took place on the Niger River on October 11 when a boat overloaded with passengers and goods capsized near the town of Konna, as it was heading for the northern town of Timbuktu. “The latest toll is 72 dead, 11 slightly injured and 210 rescued,” government spokesman Sounkalo Togola said after three ministers travelled to the scene of the accident. Authorities had given an initial figure of 20 dead. Togola said no more passengers were missing. Abdoulaye Koumare, Mali’s transport minister who was among those who visited the scene, criticised the lack of security procedures and said emergency measures such as limiting the weight of cargo and numbers of passengers would be put in place. (Reuters)

Egyptian TV: Mubarak trial resuming

A retrial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resumed Saturday in a closed-door session in which top security officials gave testimony, state television said. Mubarak, 85, was sentenced to life in prison last year for complicity in the killing of demonstrators in the uprising that toppled him in 2011, but an appeals court ordered a retrial. Mubarak was released from jail but is kept under house arrest in a military hospital in Maadi, a Cairo suburb. State television said that former intelligence chief Mourad Mowafy and the head of the national security authority, General Mostafa Abdel Naby, testified in Saturday’s hearing. Last month the presiding judge imposed a media gag on the sessions’ proceedings for reasons of national security. (Reuters)

Milan court sets 2-year Berlusconi political ban

A Milan appeals court Saturday set Silvio Berlusconi’s political ban in his tax fraud conviction at two years, setting the stage for more wrangling over the future of the embattled politician who continues to wield political influence. The appellate court was ordered by Italy’s highest court to determine the length of the political ban accompanying his tax fraud conviction and four-year jail term after prosecutors conceded sentencing errors in the original five-year ban. It is one of two political ban processes set in motion when Berlusconi lost his final appeal in August over his tax fraud conviction and a four-year jail sentence. Both political bans need to be approved by Parliament, prolonging the process. Berlusconi already is facing the loss of his Senate seat due to the conviction under a 2012 law stipulating that anyone convicted to more than two years in prison cannot hold or run for office for six years. A Senate committee has approved yanking his seat, but a vote by the whole chamber is pending and could come in the coming weeks. (AP)