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NightWatch 20141202

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NightWatch

For the night of 2 December 2014

North Korea: North Korea refused to deny responsibility for a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures. California-based Sony Pictures' computer system went down last week and hackers published a number of as-yet unreleased films on online download sites.

Sony is investigating after its computers were attacked and unreleased films made available on the internet. When asked if it was involved in the attack a spokesman for the North Korean government replied: "Wait and see."

In June, North Korea complained to the United Nations and the US about the comedy film The Interview. In the movie, two reporters are granted an audience with Kim Jong-un. The CIA then enlists the pair to assassinate him.

North Korea described the film as an act of war and an "undisguised sponsoring of terrorism." It called on the US and the UN to block it.

Comment: The public domain contains no information that confirms North Korean culpability, but the trailer for the film is so juvenile and insulting that a North Korean cyber-attack would be plausible. North Korea is known to have invested heavily in cyber warfare as a force multiplier.

.Ukraine: The Ukrainian military says pro-Russian rebels attacked its forces at Donetsk airport, despite a ceasefire deal earlier in the day. The statement on Facebook said rebel shelling shattered the calm soon after both sides had ended their meeting.

"There was a lull at Donetsk airport during the day," a Ukrainian military statement said, but after the ceasefire talks "the terrorists resumed attacks on the airport terminals."

Fighting at the airport has been taking place for three days. The rebels hold the city of Donetsk, but not the airport.

Earlier the rebels reported a truce at the airport. Plus negotiators, including Europeans and a Russian general announced a new ceasefire agreement in Luhansk region.

Under the new deal for Luhansk, the sides agreed to a ceasefire starting on Friday. A withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of confrontation was agreed, to begin on Saturday, 6 December, but the width of the demilitarized zone was not specified.

Comment: The battle lines have changed little. However some political shift seems to be taking place. The presence of a Russian general in the ceasefire talks signifies an admission and escalation of Russia's overt involvement in trying to shape the political endgame.

Kenya: Al-Shaba'ab terrorists from Somalia killed at least 36 miners in an attack on a stone quarry in Mandera, northern Kenya.

About 20 gunmen, described by the Kenyan government as "heavily armed bandits" executed all non-Muslim men working at the mine. Several people were beheaded, while the others were shot in the back of the head.

Al-Shaba'ab claimed responsibility for the attack. "This latest attack was part of a series of attacks planned and executed by the Mujahideen to serve as a response to Kenya's occupation of Muslim lands and their ongoing atrocities therein, such as the recent air strikes on Muslims in Somalia," al-Shaba'ab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage said in a statement emailed to journalists.

Comment: The latest attack is about 30km from the 22 November attack on a bus in which 28 non-Muslims were separated from the Muslim passengers before being executed. This attack seems to have served no purpose except terror and possibly local tribal interests.

On Monday, al-Shaba'ab fighters reportedly attacked a night club in the Kenyan town of Wajir. One person was killed and at least 12 injured as gunmen hurled grenades and sprayed bullets at the building, the government said.

Comment: The increase in attacks in Kenya means that the African Union forces are having some success in driving al-Shaba'ab fighters from Somalia. The downside is that the Kenyans, who have combat forces in Somalia, failed to secure the border and to prepare to intercept al-Shaba'ab groups who fled to Kenya seeking refuge and revenge.

End of NightWatch for 2 December.

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