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  • At Least 39 Killed, 65 Injured in 'Cowardly Terror Attack' at Istanbul Nightclub, Gunman at Large

    An intense manhunt is underway in Turkey for a gunman who fired at a crowded Istanbul nightclub during its New Year's Eve celebrations early Sunday morning, killing at least 39 people and injuring at least another 65, said interior minister Suleyman Soylu.

    Of the 39 deceased victims, five Turkish nationals have been identified so far. At least 15 foreigners were killed, but their nationalities have not yet been revealed.

    Of the 69 people hospitalized, four are in critical condition and one is in very critical condition, Soylu said.

    At a press conference Sunday, Soylu said the attack was carried out by only one individual. Soylu said the assailant arrived wearing a jacket and pants, and is believed to have left wearing different clothing. There were local reports that he wore a Santa Claus costume, but that has not been confirmed.
    The attacker walked into Reina nightclub -- a see-and-be-seen hotspot popular with foreigners -- after midnight with a long-barreled weapon after killing a policeman and a civilian outside the venue and began spraying bullets, said Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin.

    There were between 400 and 500 party-goers inside the nightclub at the time of the attack.

    "Unfortunately [he] rained bullets in a very cruel and merciless way on innocent people who were there to celebrate New Year's and have fun," Sahin told reporters.

    And Soylu described the attack as "as a cowardly terror attack that targeted civilians. It happened when people were renewing their hopes for the New Year. This terror attack targeted unprotected people.”

    Soylu said authorities are aggressively searching for the gunman. "Our security forces have started the necessary operations. God willing he will be caught in a short period of time."

    At a press conference Sunday, Soylu said the attack was carried out by only one individual. Soylu said the assailant arrived wearing a jacket and pants, and is believed to have left wearing different clothing. There were local reports that he wore a Santa Claus costume, but that has not been confirmed.
    The attacker walked into Reina nightclub -- a see-and-be-seen hotspot popular with foreigners -- after midnight with a long-barreled weapon after killing a policeman and a civilian outside the venue and began spraying bullets, said Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin.

    There were between 400 and 500 party-goers inside the nightclub at the time of the attack.

    "Unfortunately [he] rained bullets in a very cruel and merciless way on innocent people who were there to celebrate New Year's and have fun," Sahin told reporters.

    And Soylu described the attack as "as a cowardly terror attack that targeted civilians. It happened when people were renewing their hopes for the New Year. This terror attack targeted unprotected people.”

    Soylu said authorities are aggressively searching for the gunman. "Our security forces have started the necessary operations. God willing he will be caught in a short period of time."

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement Sunday, "I vehemently condemn the terror attack ... Turkey continues its combat against terror and is absolutely determined to do whatever is necessary in the region to ensure its citizens safety and peace."

    The US was quick to condemn the attack.

    "The President was briefed by his National Security Team on the attack in Istanbul," President Barack Obama's principal deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said in a statement. "The President expressed condolences for the innocent lives lost, directed his team to offer appropriate assistance to the Turkish authorities, as necessary, and keep him updated as warranted."

    And Mark Toner, the US State Department's deputy spokesman said in a statement, "The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack on a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey ... We will remain in close touch with Turkish authorities throughout the investigation ... We stand in solidarity with our NATO Ally Turkey in combating the ongoing threat of terrorism."

    Russian president Vladimir Putin sent Erdogan a telegram of condolences, according to the Kremlin, writing, "It is hard to imagine a more cynical crime than killing innocent people during New Year celebrations. However, terrorists don't share moral values. Our common duty is to combat terrorists' aggression," Putin said.

    ABC News' Darren Reynolds, Devin Villacis and Engin Bas contributed to this report.

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  • Soft Drinks Lose Fizz as Gov’t Shuts Down Factories

    In an unprecedented move, a government agency has ordered the shutting down of two soft drink bottling plants and ordered the recall of the products.

    The Ministry of Trade has shutdown the MOHA Soft Drinks plant in Hawassa and the East Africa Bottling plant in Dire Dawa over substandard qualities. The companies are known for their flagship products, Pepsi and Coca Cola, respectively.

    Sources from the Ministry of Trade confirmed the closure. However they declined to comment on the current status of the investigations.

    The plant in Hawassa, called the Hawassa Millennium Pepsi Cola plant was opened in 2007 and employs over 500 people.

    “We have been informed of the process but it is too early to comment,” Tekie Berhan, communication director Ethiopian Conformity Assessment Enterprise told Fortune.

    The office is responsible for conducting inspections on the two factories regarding the quality of the products.

    In a letter written by the enterprise regarding MOHA’s products, the reason behind the closure was revealed as the substandard quality of the soft drinks processed by the plant.

    The letter reads that samples taken on October 17, 2016 from the plants from Hawassa failed to fulfil PH Standards set by Ethiopian Standard Agency. In general, the allegation states that MOHA failed to meet the compulsory standards in soft drinks that were approved by the Agency in 2013.

    The test results of Pepsi soft drinks manufactured in the Hawassa plant show that it failed the PH limit standards. The requirements state that PH values for soft drinks (aside from citrus juices) have to be 2.5. Pepsi’s samples showed 2.43.

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  • Addis Ababa awaits response to request that Cairo end 'Ethiopian opposition activity' in Egypt: Ethiopia FM

    The Ethiopian foreign minister did say, however, that his government is positively cooperating with Egyptian counterparts to maintain friendly relations

    Ethiopian foreign minister Workenh Gebeyehu said in an interview published on Monday on the Saudi Arabian Middle East news website that his government is positively cooperating with Egyptian counterparts to maintain friendly relations, though it awaits an official response from Egypt to a request by Ethiopia that Cairo stop the activity of Ethiopian opposition groups within Egypt.

     

    "We informed our Egyptian friends about the activities of some hostile groups that are working against the Ethiopian government in Cairo, and we requested that Egypt stop the activities of these hostile groups", Gebeyehu stated.

    Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn said on Thursday in an interview with the Qatari Al-Jazeera news channel that his country demanded that the Egyptian government take clear action against "terrorist organisations" that are receiving support from "some Egyptian bodies" in Cairo.

    In October, Ethiopia's communication minister Getachew Reda accused Egypt of financing and training "armed groups" operating in Ethiopia.

    Reda's claims came amid demonstrations against an Ethiopian government plan to expand the boundaries of the capital Addis Ababa into the territory of the Oromo ethnic group. 

    Egypt's foreign ministry said at the time that Cairo completely respects Ethiopian sovereignty and non-interference in the country's internal affairs. 

    Ethiopian Right groups say that 500 civilians were killed during the demonstrations, with the Ethiopian government declaring a six-month state of emergency.  

    In 2015, Egypt dismissed Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome's accusations that Egyptian “elements” are supporting armed opposition groups in his country with the aim of preventing Ethiopia from building the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam, which Cairo fears could reduce its share of Nile water.

    In March 2015, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed a trilateral declaration of principles that guarantees that all parties will take steps to ensure the dam will not harm the interests of all parties concerned.

     

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