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U.K. Hospitals Strained Amid COVID Spike; Afghan Refugee Resettlement in the U.S.; Military Appears to be Surrounding Home of Sudan PM; Afghans Uneasy with Country on Brink of Economic Collapse; Gang Kidnaps Haitian Girl, Family Forced to Pay Ransom; Colombia to Extradite Alleged Drug Lord "Otoniel" to U.S.; Home of Sudan's PM Appears Surrounded by Military. Aired 1-1:45a ET
Aired October 25, 2021 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, welcome to CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow, live in Atlanta. So, coming up on the show, with COVID cases on the rise in the U.K., ambulances are lining up outside hospitals full of sick people waiting to get treatment. Also, a shift in America's Afghan resettlement program, how U.S. veterans are being tapped to help their Afghan allies make a smoother transition.
Plus, wild and possibly history making weather is causing all kinds of problems in the western United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN Newsroom with Robyn Curnow.
CURNOW: Europe is struggling to control a dramatic rise in COVID infections and deaths. Cases are climbing in many countries as restrictions are lifted and falling temperatures drive more people indoors.
I want you to take a look at this map. It shows cases rising in almost every country over the last week except for Finland. Eastern Europe is battling its worst outbreak of the entire pandemic amid dwindling vaccination rates. And the number of new COVID deaths in Russia, Ukraine and Romania are now among the highest in the world. And then in Western Europe, new infections in Germany have soared to their highest level since mid-May and France reported more than 6000 cases in the past 24 hours. Then in the U.K., experts are warning that the latest surge could push the healthcare system to a breaking point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. KATHERINE HENDERSON, PRESIDENT, ROYAL COLLEGE OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE: Terrible place where we have got large queues of ambulances with vulnerable people waiting in those ambulances to be offloaded into departments and other patients at home waiting to be picked up by the ambulance. That's the thing that really worries me that these are patients who have not yet received treatment that we don't necessarily know what's wrong with them, that we're really struggling to get into our healthcare facilities to then work out what we need to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Fred Pleitgen has more from London, Fred?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the coronavirus infections here in this country are continuing to surge. In fact, the United Kingdom has been over 40,000 new daily infections for more than the past week running. And in fact, the U.K. health Secretary he came out this past week and he said that he fears that the infections could reach up to 100,000 per day, as the winter gets closer than of course as the winter progresses as well. Nevertheless, the British government is saying that they don't want to implement what's called a plan B here in this country, which would obviously mean more strict measures. In fact, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he also came out late this week. And he said that yes, the infections have been on the rise. But at the same time, he also believes that all of this is still well within the parameters that had been predicted.
Now, the way the British government seems to want to get out of this is by vaccinating its way out of it. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, on Saturday, he issued what he called a call to arms, which means obviously people putting out their arms to get their jabs. And it really is three pillars that all this rests on.
On the one hand booster jabs for people who are over 50 and those who are at severe risk of COVID, then also getting the people vaccinated. We have not yet been fully vaccinated. He said there are certainly people who may have not gotten their second jab yet. And then it's also children as young as the age of 12 who can get single jab vaccinations. So, it's those three pillars.
Now all this comes the same time that folks who represent the medical profession here in this country are indeed sounding alarm bells. In fact, senior members of the National Health Service and also of the British Medical Association, they came out and they said yes, this country needs the plan B as fast as possible. They are calling for mask mandates. They are calling for physical distancing. And in certain areas, also vaccine passports as well. Also, because they say if this country doesn't act fast, it could face what they call a winter of crisis. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, London.
CURNOW: And China is postponing the Beijing marathon as the country faces a new COVID outbreak ahead of the Winter Olympic Games, a raft of new restrictions on gatherings and travel has also been put in place.
Meantime, New Zealand is reporting its second highest daily case counter the pandemic. Many of them are an Auckland which remains in a strict lockdown until more people get vaccinated. And Singapore reported more than 3000 new daily cases on Sunday compared to very few cases during the zero COVID efforts. Despite some outbreaks, some places are counting down the days until they can welcome back visitors. Paula Newton reports on the businesses and workers getting ready.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Time for a wash and a once over, before Qantas plane start flying again on international routes carrying eligible passengers November 1.
Maintenance crews are preparing for the return of flights between Sydney and cities like Los Angeles and London in just a week with flights from Melbourne opening soon afterward. A chance to get back in the skies for these aircraft which operated only on limited cargo and repatriation runs during the pandemic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, we've been doing one day a week instead of seven days a week. So, there's quite a bit there's things like making sure the tires, the brakes are ready, doing some lubrication.
NEWTON: Qantas cancelled regular international flights in March of last year after Australia applied strict COVID restrictions, stopping citizens from exiting without special permission and requiring two weeks of quarantine to re-enter the country. But Sydney and Melbourne are lifting those requirements after reaching their vaccination goals and will finally allow fully vaccinated Australian citizens, residents and their families to travel again with no quarantine period. Officials say the return of tourists will be announced at a later date.
SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Australia is ready for takeoff. You can see it all around us. You can see the staff readying themselves. The ground crew have been doing the work they've needed to do. The maintenance teams and we're ready for takeoff.
NEWTON: A cautious reopening that many countries in the Asia Pacific region are testing out. Singapore recently expanded its travel lanes allowing more vaccinated passengers from designated nations to come and go without quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19.
ANDREA MULLENS, PASSENGER FROM AMSTERDAM: Yeah, that's perfect. Is it? Yeah. It's really convenient, she can go to school right away after we have the results, of course.
NEWTON: At the beginning of the month, Thailand will open its doors to visitors from 46 countries and territories from a previous plan of just 10. If they arrive by air have been fully vaccinated and have a document to show they are virus free before departure and after a rival.
Malaysia is also considering opening a travel bubble in parts of the country for vaccinated international visitors in the coming weeks. But in Bali, a grand reopening for some foreign tourists hasn't gone so smoothly. So far, there haven't been many takers. Government rules still require people to quarantine at a hotel for five days. And international flights aren't picking up like the locals who depend on tourism had hoped.
This taxi driver says we're really destitute when it comes to our money. There's no income, he says, we're hoping tourists can come here, but not one has.
China so far is sticking to its zero COVID policy, its borders are still close to most foreigners with mandated quarantines enforce strict rules remain in place. When the country hosts the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, it has already said most international spectators will not be allowed to attend. Paula Newton, CNN.
CURNOW: Some 28 million U.S. children could be eligible for a COVID vaccine within the next few weeks. FDA advisors will meet on Tuesday to discuss whether to greenlight Pfizer's vaccine for kids ages five to 11. Then CDC advisors are scheduled to weigh in a week later, Dr. Anthony Fauci laid out the expected timeline on Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: So, if all goes well, and we get the regulatory approval and the recommendation for the CDC, it's entirely possible if not very likely, that vaccines will be available for children from five to 11 within the first week or two of November.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Jacqueline Howard has a closer look at the decision-making process.
JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: The meeting of FDA vaccine advisors is a critical first step toward having an authorized COVID-19 shot for younger kids. So, what will happen, the advisors will discuss whether the FDA should amend its emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to include children ages five to 11. That recommendation is then sent to the FDA and the FDA decides whether to follow the recommendation or not.
Now if the FDA authorizes the vaccine, then we can expect to hear from the CDC on whether it recommends the vaccine for this younger age group. And ahead of Tuesday's meeting, the company Pfizer released new data on its coronavirus vaccine and a briefing document, the company says that its vaccine is found to be safe and has an efficacy of 90.7% against symptomatic COVID-19 in children ages five to 11. And that's just some of the data that the FDA advisors will review this upcoming Tuesday. Back to you.
CURNOW: Music superstar Ed Sheeran says he's self-isolating after testing positive for COVID. And the news comes just days before the British singers fourth album is released, Sheeran says he's doing as many interviews and performances from home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CORDEN, LATE NIGHT HOST: Moderna or Pfizer will do.
ED SHEERAN, MUSIC SUPERSTAR: You'll be good after jab number two.
CORDEN: But wait two weeks for it to take effect.
SHEERAN: It doesn't fit the song but it's important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Late Night host James Corden there and Sharon teamed up in July to change the lyrics of his hit, shape of you, two phrases about getting the vaccine. Sheeran has not said if he's been vaccinated.
Meanwhile, new details are emerging about the accidental fatal shooting on the set of the Alec Baldwin film, "Rust." The film's director told authorities Baldwin was practicing drawing his gun for a scene when the weapon discharged killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
The actor unknowingly fired a live round from what was supposed to be a prop gun. Well, the director said the camera wasn't rolling when last week's tragedy occurred in New Mexico. And as the investigation into her death continues mourners are honoring her life. This was a vigil in Burbank, California on Sunday paying tribute to the slain cinematographer. And Another vigil was held on Saturday in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
And ahead on CNN, African refugees in limbo read U.S. military bases. Details are the new program which is designed to get them into permanent homes as quickly as possible.
CURNOW: We are following this breaking news out of Sudan where demonstrators have taken to the streets after images appear to show the home of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok surrounded by the military. And they report the top government officials have been arrested. According to witnesses and media on the ground.
I want to go straight to Larry Madowo, he's standing by in Nairobi. I mean obviously details are sketchy at the moment. We're not getting a lot of detail. But what do we know about the situation there on the ground right now?
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know Robyn that there are protesters on the streets of Khartoum right now because they have been told by the Sudan professionals association to go out on the streets to protect against what they're calling a military coup.
Now, I need to be very clear, we don't know a whole lot of information. We know that the home of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok appears to be surrounded by the military. It is not clear if they are protecting him or if he is under house arrest. We also hear that several government ministers including members of the sovereignty Council have been arrested according to eyewitnesses. According to some local media reports. We're working to confirm the details here. Because what we know is that a month ago there was an attempted coup in Sudan which was thwarted and other time Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok blamed it on forces loyal to the ousted President Omar al- Bashir, and he told me the Prime Minister at the time that because of the successes they're making in Sudan, there are some of the old forces are nervous because they dream of coming back.
So, this morning people on the streets of Khartoum trying to understand what's happening because the Internet has been blocked in, Robyn, has been blocked there, Robyn. We're hearing from NetBlocks. This is the organization that tracks internet blockages around the world, they say they're only having 34% of people who are online. And that tracks with some of the reporting, we've been hearing from eyewitnesses telling CNN that they cannot go on WhatsApp or just access the internet regularly.
CURNOW: Yeah, just talk us through this power sharing agreement that we've been seeing for the last two years. And how tightly knit it's been, or perhaps how much it has frayed?
MADOWO: It's frayed a lot more than tightly knit, Robyn. This is a very power sharing agreement that's on very much, on tenterhooks, because there's some mistrust between the civilian element and the military. And what happened is in 2019, when Omar al-Bashir was ousted after months of protests, and then this transitional agreement came into effect, what is supposed to happen is there supposed to be steps until I've returned to full civilian rule, for instance, there should have been a legislative body of some kind of Parliament which should have been in place by now that does not happen, and should all be working to an election by the end of 2023. It appears not to be working. There's also some disquiet within Sudan about some of the economic reforms that have been carried out by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in this transitional government, which have really crippled some people and they don't like it. But what Sudan is trying to do is to get some kind of debt relief from the International Monetary Fund.
So, the Prime Minister sees this as a necessary evil. And he understands this because he's -- he used to be a prominent economist before this moment. But now with these tensions between the military and the civilian elements, this is what appears to be leading to this moment where people are on the streets trying to protect what they're calling a military coup. According to the Sudan Professionals Association. This organization was behind the popular protests in 2019 that led to the ouster of Omar al-Bashir, the very important to the democratic transition in Sudan.
CURNOW: Yeah. And made up of middle-class professionals and the youth and certainly have charted this this very shaky two years since Bashir was overturned. Just talk us through this information again, various top government officials, CNN is hearing have reportedly been arrested and taken to prison by men wearing military police uniforms. This is according to eyewitnesses. Just talk us through what that might mean? And do we know who these government officials are? Which -- are they on the civilian side or the military side of the government? Do we know that?
MADOWO: Many of the names we're seeing appear to be on the civilian side. There are some of them are members of the sovereignty council. So that's what we know at this stage. And again, we're hearing that the Prime Minister's home has been surrounded with, don't know if they're protecting him or his under house arrest. But they several ministers who are well known in Sudan, who are allegedly arrested as we speak right now speak to what people see as the growing tensions between the military and the civilian government and the civilians that are -- that form part of the transitional administration in Sudan. So, it's hard for us to exactly make out what is going on with it, because we haven't had the statement yet from the rulers in Sudan, from the Prime Minister, from al-Burhan, the general who is sort of the figurehead of the military. So, we're waiting to see if there will be any kind of statement usually, when some of these things happen, Robyn, you and I have covered many of these things. You might see many military fatigues, go up on TV and make an announcement, nothing of that sort has happened.
CURNOW: OK, you'll monitor for us there on the ground in Nairobi, I appreciate it, Larry Madowo, thank you.
So according to the founder of the Afghan Women's Network, the mood in Afghanistan is one of widespread discontent with billions of dollars in international funds frozen, the country is now hovering on the brink of economic collapse, and people are looking to escape.
MAHBOUBA SERAJ, FOUNDER, AFGHAN WOMEN'S NETWORK: A lot of the people and their families are trying to get out of Afghanistan, because if this thing continues, then their girls are really going to lose and their education. So, there is a very uneasy feel in the air altogether. And not a whole lot of trust. And we are kind of waiting for the Taliban to take the first step and do something, but there will be extremely slow and they're not doing it. Taliban kept on saying for the people of Afghanistan, that that OK, we are talking to the world and we are asking the world to release the money because that's what is going to change a whole lot of things for us, but in reality, what is really happening and the way they can read get their money is not by asking the world to give them and owe them money, but is by doing the right thing by the women of Afghanistan and by the people of Afghanistan.
Once they start doing that, especially by the women of Afghanistan, the money will be coming to them. But they just -- this is something that they don't want to admit. So, we are on the -- on square one, where we were with not much change to say about, you know, life here.
CURNOW: For more than the 55,000 Afghans who didn't want to stay in the country and are currently on U.S. military bases, the White House is clearing the way for them to move to permanent homes. A resettlement program will allow private citizens and military veterans with ties to the Afghans to sponsor them and bring them to their cities.
The last time the U.S. resettled close to this number of refugees. This quickly was after the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam.
Matt Zeller is a major in the U.S. Army Reserve and a former Officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. He joins me now from Washington, D.C.
Matt, hi, great to see you. What's your reaction at the news of the White House's planning this pretty revolutionary move when it comes to resettlement?
MAJOR MATT ZELLER, U.S. ARMY RESERVE: I'm thrilled. This is exactly what is needed. I've been asking the White House personally to do this now for several weeks. I've learned through my years of experience in resettling these Afghans and Iraqis that come to the United States under the special immigration visa program, that the key to that success, the key to them not ending up in endemic poverty is being paired with a U.S. military veteran as early in their resettlement process as we possibly can. This is absolutely what is needed at this time.
CURNOW: And what's your thinking behind that? Is this just because of the relationships that veterans like you have built with these men and then of course, their families? Or is this broadly about how you understand resettlement in the U.S. to be, it's not necessarily a happy process for some?
ZELLER: Yeah, no. So, this -- let's be clear, this is all about the shared experience that men and women of the United States military have had with the men and women of Afghanistan and Iraq, right? There's nothing more powerful than that bond of having shared in particular combat, and that -- it's not just our military, it's our frontline civilians, the aid workers, the diplomats, you know, who also were out there working shoulder to shoulder with these people facing the same dangers. These are the people now that are going to be best suited to help them resettle here, for a couple of reasons.
In that shared experience, we learned firsthand how they welcomed us into their culture and their country, when we were complete strangers. Well, the process is now completely flipped, right? It's our turn to welcome them to our country where they're going to be complete strangers. And because we have that shared experience, we have a level of trust that no one else in the country is going to be able to have with these people, which means we can have some of the more difficult conversations that need to be had, such as telling the men, hey, I know culturally, you might not educate your women over there. But here you're going to have to, you shouldn't limit your household's earning potential, just 50% of the adults in the household. And more importantly, if, God forbid, something happens to you, you need your spouse to be able to call 911 and be able to communicate with the world around her to take care of your family if you can't yourself. These people also are going to look to us just from their cultural standpoint, as ambassadors of our culture, and they're going to be more apt to listen to us as a result of that. So, there's a lot of reasons why we should be at the forefront of this. I'm really glad that the White House has listened and I'm eager to get started.
CURNOW: Is the veteran community behind you on this? Do you think there's going to be a mass opening of doors of homes?
ZELLER: Yeah, no, we've been clamoring for this.
ZELLER: I'm proud to work with the Iraq and Afghan Veterans of America specifically on this issue. We've been now for the last couple of weeks, trying to build a coalition amongst other veterans' organizations to prepare them for this. The feedback that I've had from those meetings with other veterans' organizations has just been overwhelmingly positive. People are eager to assist these people because we don't just see them as emigres, or as refugees. We see them as fellow veterans.
Let's be very clear, when I came home from my one tour of duty, my war ended, the interpreter who saved my life went on to the next unit and the next mission, and he did that over and over and over again. The only difference between him and I that I really know about is where we placed in the birth lottery. The only -- that's the only difference by the way, anyone seems to care about. What I care, that is what he's done with his life. And he served nine tours of duty. You know, I considered him if anything to be the real veteran in this relationship. And I know a lot of other veterans who feel the same way about their and interpreter. We are eager to now take care of them. And again, the way that they took care of us.
CURNOW: What is some of the feedback you having from many of these Afghans who are already on American soil but are on army bases at the moment?
ZELLER: They're eager to get off those army bases. You know, they -- the conditions vary from base to base, most of them are in barracks housing, and they've making to do, a lot of them are very thankful to be receiving their first three hot meals a day ever in their entire life. They're all just overwhelmingly thankful to the American people, and particularly American military for getting them out of Afghanistan and getting them to safety.
But every single person that I've met with in my base visits and now I've been to Fort Dix, Quantico, Fort Lee, Fort Pickett, I'm trying to get to all of them before this is done. The overwhelming sentiment is universal, every single person I talked to, after thanking me, and telling the American people thank you for getting them to safety than want to talk to me about the relatives who are left behind and still in danger. And that is the thing that I fear that, you know, the greater veteran community is going to be working on for the rest of our lives is getting that some 175,000 people that we estimate were left behind in the evacuation and still need our assistance. And that's again, why it's so powerful to start pairing veterans up with this community now, because there's a moral injury that's already been suffered by leaving those people behind. And I've argued very, very -- for a very long time, that the best way to overcome that moral injury to try to treat it and assess it is to assist people in resettling here in the United States. The most healing thing I've ever done from coming home from the war, full stop, has been helping this community come and resettle in my country and become our newest and proudest Americans. And every time I have opened and welcomed other veterans into that opportunity, they share that same sentiment that this is the most healing thing that they've done since they've come home from the war.
I hope that in helping one another, what I've also learned is that the Afghans seem to somewhat heal themselves. And that's what I'm hoping we can help them do. Because while they're very thankful to be here, they're suffering, profound trauma, particularly survivor's guilt, because they've left family members behind. And until we get those family members here and save with them, I honestly can tell you that I don't think they're ever going to truly feel like their war is over.
CURNOW: It's just the beginning of another part of their life. Major Matt Zeller, really appreciate you joining us here at CNN. Also, thanks so much for all the work you've done so far.
ZELLER: Thanks for having me. It's an honor to be here.
CURNOW: Well, the kidnapping of 17 missionaries in Haiti has captured the headlines, but most often it's everyday Haitians facing abduction, and demands for ransom as they cannot pay. We'll hear from one such victim about her harrowing ordeal. That story is just ahead here on CNN.
Plus, Columbia has captured the lead drug lord, but it doesn't want to keep him. What we're learning about the extradition. That's next.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: It's now been nine days since a gang in Haiti, kidnapping 17 missionaries from the U.S. and Canada. Now, the gang leader threatened to kill them if a $17 million ransom wasn't paid.
Family members of the hostages say they've received messages and prayers from all over the world.
Protesters in Haiti have gone strike over fears about the country's security as well as its fuel shortages. UNICEF warns that hundreds of women and children who need emergency care in hospitals could be at risk if those facilities begin losing supplies for electricity.
And UNICEF says at least 71 women and 30 children have been kidnapped just this year alone in Haiti. The organization is helping a young Haitian girl with counseling after a street gang kidnapped her and held her for a week.
The family had to come up with a ransom of roughly $300 to get her free -- a huge amount of money in an impoverished country where most people live on just a few dollars a day.
Here's Joe Johns with their story.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's as common as the tire fires burning here in the streets of Port-au-Prince. Haiti is one of the kidnapping capitals of the world. The entire country has falling victim in some way.
Commerce and the economy are suffering. Children fear walking to school, even to church. It's a parent's worst nightmare. Everywhere we go, people are worried they could be next.
The human toll sinks in, talking with the victims. This 15-year-old school girl was abducted in early September and released seven days later after an unimaginable ordeal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About three men were holding my hands and feet. They raped me.
JOHNS (on camera): Did they threaten you while you were there? Or make you afraid to try to escape?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. They just closed my eyes and they took me somewhere, and I entered inside of the house. They tore of my clothes. They blindfolded my eyes and just left enough for me to see.
JOHNS: She was kidnapped in Croix Des Bouquet, the same neighborhood outside Port-au-Prince where the American hostages were taken. Her mother says they initially demanded $50,000 ransom -- an unheard of sum for a family living in the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.
(voice over): Her mother says the family banded together and sold everything they owned to get her back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They told me if I didn't come to get her, they would kill her. I did not have the money. I called my family from the countryside to help out. I negotiated with them for 20,000 Haitian dollars, but they rejected the offer.
I then called my family. They sold what they had and we settled on 30,000 Haitian dollars, and they me they would release her.
JOHNS (on camera): Though the current ongoing case involving 16 Americans and one Canadian has generated intense international interest, Haitians are much more likely to be the victims of kidnappings in this country and their families much less likely to be able to come up with the cash initially demanded.
(voice over): And it's women and children who are increasingly being targeted. More than 100 abducted so far this year, according to UNICEF, which has been providing victims counseling and relocation for this girl and her mom. They have been working with a local NGO that caters to women in distress. Before she came here, the girl couldn't even speak about her harrowing days as a captive to one of Haiti's ruthless gangs.
LAMERCE CHARLES PIERRE, ORGANIZATION OF COURAGEOUS WOMEN IN ACTION (through translator): Because we have received so many cases of kidnappings, the space has been reserved for 25 women. Now we have exceeded that number.
That's why we have land. We will build a bigger center to welcome more woman, more victims.
JOHNS: Now, UNICEF is warning about yet another danger to women and children resulting directly from the kidnapping trends and general lawlessness in Haiti. A fuel crisis motivated in part by the danger in the streets, jeopardizing patients and hospitals, and health care delivery with no end in sight.
Joe Johns, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
CURNOW: Thanks to Joe for that story.
An alleged drug lord captured by Colombian forces shouldn't get too comfortable in local prisons. That is because officials in Bogota say they are already looking to extradite him to the U.S.
Rafael Romo has the latest on a major law enforcement operation.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was Colombia's most wanted criminal, the DEA had offered a reward of up to $5 million and the Colombian government was offering another $800,000 for information leading to his capture.
And now Dairo Antonio Usuga, better known as Otoniel, is a man behind bars. He was captured Saturday during an operation that included members of the Colombian army, national police and attorney general's office. Colombia's defense ministry told CNN he will be extradited to the United States.
The operation was carried out in a rural area in Antioquia Province in northwestern Colombia, near the border with Panama. And announcing the capture in a televised national address, President Ivan Duque, called it the hardest blow the drug trafficking has suffered in this century.
He added that capturing of Otoniel is comparable to the fall Pablo Escobar, the drug lord that terrorized most of Colombia in the eighties and early nineties.
Dairo Antonio Usuga was the leader of the Clan del Golfo, a criminal organization involved not only in drug trafficking, but also extortion. Some of its members are drug traffickers that belong to other criminal groups.
Paramilitaries also belong to the Clan, including many who at one point were members of the AUC, an extreme right wing paramilitary group, that demobilized in 2006.
There were 122 arrest warrants against Otoniel in Colombia, in addition to two extradition requests made by the U.S. government. He faces multiple charges including homicide, extortion, terrorism, drug trafficking, kidnapping and recruiting minors.
Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.
CURNOW: Well, California is dealing with the effects of a massive storm. And the danger isn't all over. The latest from CNN Weather Center. That is just ahead.
CURNOW: More now on our breaking news out of Sudan where demonstrators have taken to the streets, after images appear to show the home of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok surrounded by the military.
There are also reports that top government officials have been arrested, according to witnesses and media on the ground.
CNN has not been able to independently verify those arrests. We are still gathering details on the exact nature of what is happening, and the reasons for these military movements.
But all of this certainly comes amid heightened tensions, following a failed coup attempt last month
Well, joining us now is Jonas Horner, deputy director for the Horn of Africa International Crisis Group. Jonas, good to have you on the ground.
And just to reiterate, we still don't know a lot about what is happening in Khartoum at the moment. But certainly, looking like here, there is a lot of concern about a number of government officials and also the country's leader?
JONAS HORNER, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, HORN OF AFRICA INTERNATIONAL CRISI GROUP: Yes, that all appears to be true. I've spoken with several people familiar with the situation. They seem to indicate that indeed the prime minister is under house arrest, that several key civilian members of the hybrid military-civilian transitional government, have also been taken under arrest.
And that the military has appeared to now seek to -- has sought to assume control of the country.
The country is in a transitional phase, and you know, this is a particular evocative moment. I think we also are perhaps likely to see civil disobedience. And there has been a lot of burning of tires on the streets already, so there has been some backlash to this. It is not a popular move.
CURNOW: And Jonas, just to reach iterate, because the Internet is down or has been cutoff, it's unclear what's happening in terms of communications.
CNN hasn't independently verified whether or not the prime minister is under house or he's just there being protected by military, although we all know -- we do have these images that his house has been surrounded by the military.
You recently left Khartoum, I understand. What was the mood like?
HORNER: Yes. No, I just came up two days ago. And quite timely fashion. This has been brewing, to be honest. And there has been significant rising tension between the military and civilian sides of this transitional government for sometime. So this has really been on the cards.
And this is perhaps natural combination of a newly-emboldened military, which has been emboldened by several key regional actors. In the past, it really was -- the civilians in the ascendancy because of a street protest that delivered Sudan's revolution in 2018 - 19 that then precipitated this hybrid transitional government.
But this was all meant to culminate in elections. It was all meant to be guided through to those elections in 2024 by civilians. Unfortunately, this has taken a rather unfortunate turn, and it is unclear exactly which direction Sudan goes from here.
CURNOW: So what should -- what should people watch out for next? What are some key signs that we should monitor?
HORNER: Well -- sure, I think there will be a significant backlash from the street. Sudanese civilians, en masse, much prefer to see a civilian dispensation come in -- they hope the civilians will guide the country through to these 2024 elections and really we want to see civilians move the country on from the 30 years autocracy under President Omar Al-Bashir.
And that is really what this entire last two or three years in Sudan has been about, moving from autocracy to democracy. So a backlash is certainly expected, both from Sudanese and from the international community.
CURNOW: Jonas Horner, really appreciate you giving us this perspective there from east Africa. Thanks so much for joining us.
And of course, CNN will continue to monitor the story, and news gather on the ground. As soon as we get any more details we will bring them to you. And a massive storm is also wreaking havoc in parts of California.
There are areas under flash flood warning which has triggered debris flows as you can see from these dramatic images.
A large landslide shut down a major highway and officials expect it to stay shut now for several days or more.
You're also watching the raw power of mother nature now on Spain's Canary Islands. More than a month after it began erupting, parts of the La Palma volcano main cone have collapsed, as powerful bursts of red hot lava are lighting up the sky.
Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate. Spain's prime minister has promised to speed up aid to the hard-hit fishing and farming industries.
Well, that wraps up our show. It's been a busy news hour.
Thanks for joining us here on CNN.
I'm Robyn Curnow, live in Atlanta.
I'm going to hand you over to "INSIDE AFRICA".