In brief | Nation & World | 9-3-14


US airstrikes may have killed leader of Somali extremist group

MOGADISHU, Somalia — U.S. airstrikes in Somalia may have killed the leader of the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, with a militant commander saying Tuesday that he was in a car that was struck and that six people died.

The leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, has no heir apparent. If he has been killed, it would be a “significant blow” to al-Shabab’s organization and abilities, said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, who confirmed the strikes targeting Godane.

But Godane’s death could also lead the group to ditch its association with al-Qaida and align itself with the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, analysts said. Al-Shabab gained international notoriety a year ago this month when it attacked the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least 67 people.

Godane was in one of two vehicles hit by the U.S. military strikes Monday night, said Abu Mohammed, an al-Shabab commander and spokesman. He said six militants were killed, but would not say if Godane was among them. The two vehicles were heading toward the coastal town of Barawe, al-Shabab’s main base, Mohammed told The Associated Press.

The U.S. strikes hit Godane after he left a meeting of the group’s top leaders, said a senior Somali intelligence official. Intelligence indicated Godane “might have been killed along with other militants,” said the Somali official, who spoke on condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Airline passengers fighting over legroom

NEW YORK — Squeezed into tighter and tighter spaces, airline passengers appear to be rebelling, taking their frustrations out on other fliers.

Three U.S. flights made unscheduled landings in the past eight days after passengers got into fights over the ability to recline their seats. Disputes over a tiny bit of personal space might seem petty, but for passengers whose knees are already banging into tray tables, every inch counts.

“Seats are getting closer together,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents 60,000 flight attendants at 19 airlines. “We have to de-escalate conflict all the time.”

There are fights over overhead bin space, legroom and where to put winter coats.

“We haven’t hit the end of it,” Nelson said. “The conditions continue to march in a direction that will lead to more and more conflict.”

Family of girl with Uzi who accidentally killed instructor is devastated by tragedy

PHOENIX — An attorney for the parents of a 9-year-old girl who accidentally killed an Arizona shooting range instructor with an Uzi said Tuesday the family is devastated by the tragedy that occurred on a brief excursion during a vacation.

The statement came as investigators released police reports and 911 recordings involving the Aug. 25 shooting of instructor Charles Vacca at the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona. The shooting range is located about 60 miles south of Las Vegas.

The police reports name the child’s parents as Alex Gen and Alison MacLachlan and don’t list the couple’s hometown.

New Jersey-based lawyer Kevin Walsh said the family “prayed day and night that (Vacca) would survive his injury, and they continue to pray for his family during this terribly difficult time.”

The police reports say that immediately after the shooting, the girl said she felt the gun was too much for her and had hurt her shoulder.

By wire sources