Categories
World News

The motorcycle bandits terrorising northern Nigeria

Motorcycle-riding armed bandits operating out of abandoned forest reserves are ransacking communities in Nigeria’s north-west.

The groups are the latest to join Nigeria’s lucrative kidnap for ransom industry, and are quite brazen in their operations.

In the last decade more than 8,000 people have been killed in the states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Niger and Zamfara, according to the International Crisis Group.

But recent attacks in the president’s home state of Katsina, where more than 100 people were killed in attacks between April and June, have led to protests and calls for his resignation.

On two separate occasions the bandits targeted villagers who had received food handouts from the government during the coronavirus lockdown.

“They were about 200 on motorbikes, each bike rider carried a passenger and they all carried AK47 guns,” Bashir Kadisau, an eyewitness, told the BBC.

He said he climbed to the top of a tree when he saw the large number of motorcycle riders coming into Kadisau village, and saw the attackers loot shops, steal cattle and grain, and shoot people who were fleeing.

Climate change fuels conflict

The attacks are rooted in decades-long competition over resources between ethnic Fulani herders and farming communities.

The herders are mostly nomadic and can be found on major highways and streets across the country herding their cattle, but they have become involved in deadly clashes with farmers in Nigeria’s north-western and central states.

This is because these areas have suffered massive deforestation, due to the impact of the Sahara Desert spreading south, causing arable farming land to disappear and water to become scarce.

Militant Islamistsin the north-east

Armed banditsin the north-west and centre

Farmers and herdersin the north-west and centre

Street gangsin the south-west

Biafra separatistsin the south-east

Oil militantsin the Niger Delta

“The persistent clashes led to the formation of armed self-help groups, called vigilantes, by both sides for protection,” security analyst Kabiru Adamu told the BBC.

‘Kidnapping more lucrative than herding cows’

Armed groups within Fulani communities are being accused of resorting to criminality.

“The herders now see kidnapping and pillaging as more lucrative than the herding.

“The biggest cow would go for 200,000 naira but one kidnapping would fetch millions,” Dr Adamu said.

Nigeria’s Fulani herders deny the accusation.

The main Fulani cattle-breeders association, Miyetti Allah (Hausa for Thank You God), said they are the ones mostly affected by the activities of the bandits and that hundreds of their members have been kidnapped.

“Our cows have been rustled. The bandits are a bunch of criminals comprising all sorts of groups. We have lost 30% of cattle in Nigeria to different types of crises,” Miyetti Allah’s national secretary Baba Othman Ngelzarma told the BBC.

He said the attackers in Nigeria’s north-west were “foreign herders from neighbouring countries”.

Nigeria’s north-west, an area almost the size of the UK, borders Niger and criminal gangs criss-cross between the two countries, evading security.

‘Herders seek revenge’

The borders are porous and the vast forest reserves in the border regions have been turned into operational bases for the bandits.

Police say the attacks in the north-west are being carried out by criminal gangs, as well as Fulani herdsmen.

“The Fulani herders suddenly realised that they now have arms to protect themselves. But they are not just protecting themselves, they are also going after those who wronged them in the past,” Isah Gambo, police spokesman in Katsina state, told the BBC.

Kidnapping for ransom is widespread in Nigeria, with victims forced to pay between $20 and $200,000 for their freedom.

At its height in 2017 and 2018, the major road connecting the capital Abuja in central Nigeria to Kaduna in the north-west had 10 kidnappings per day with 20 different groups operating on the route, the police head of a special unit fighting kidnappers, Abba Kyari, told the BBC.

Peace deal with bandits

The governor of Katsina state, Aminu Bello Masari, went into the forest hideout of the bandits last year, negotiating a deal that would see them escape prosecution in exchange for stopping the attacks.

But he caused shock among many Nigerians when he appeared in a photo standing next to a bandit wielding an AK-47 rifle.

Businessman Nasif Ahmad, who had been kidnapped in Katsina only days before, condemned the governor for making the deal.

“How can a state government go into a deal with bandits who have no education, have no sympathy or faith and behave like animals,” he said.

Mr Ahmad said he fought off the bandits after they abducted him, and spent the night in the forest.

“I felt very, very bad when I heard about the governor going into a deal with them,” he told the BBC.

Buhari targeted

The governor said at the time that the talks were aimed at ending the “incessant wanton destruction of lives and property”, and were yielding positive results.

But last month, Mr Masari told journalists that the peace deal was off because of continuing attacks.

“These bandits come to town, spray bullets, kill indiscriminately for no purpose and no reason whatsoever. How can a human being behave the way an animal cannot behave?” he asked.

You may also be interested in:

Last month’s street protests in Katsina saw angry protesters burn down an old campaign billboard of President Muhammadu Buhari, the clearest indication yet that people in his home state had run out of patience.

Mr Buhari, a retired army general, was elected in 2015 on promises of solving Nigeria’s various security challenges.

But in his time, a deadly Islamic insurgency has continued to rage in the north-east, while criminal activities, along with the farmer-herder clashes, appear to have escalated in the north-west and central states.

Nigeria’s military is currently carrying out an operation on the orders of the president to “sweep bandits and kidnappers” out of his home state.

Mr Buhari has also attempted to solve the underlying reasons for the conflict by proposing grazing reserves for the herders.

But in a country divided along ethnic lines, many powerful state governors refused to buy into the project, accusing the president, a Fulani, of hatching a plan to seize land for his ethnic group.

It is increasingly clear that the lines between the farmer-herder clashes and banditry are becoming more blurred in the north-west, and as the Katsina state governor learned, bandits do not keep their word.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

Ghana's president self-isolates after close person tests positive for coronavirus

ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo will self-isolate for 14 days on the advice of doctors after a person in his close circle tested positive for coronavirus, the government said in a statement late on Saturday.

“He has, as at today, tested negative, but has elected to take this measure out of the abundance of caution,” the statement said, adding that the president will continue to work during the period, in compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols.

The statement did not say if the close person was a staff or family member.

Ghana has recorded 19,388 coronavirus cases, one of the highest number of cases in sub-Saharan Africa, with 117 deaths.

The West African nation’s deputy trade and industry minister Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah resigned on Friday for violating coronavirus self-isolation measures after he tested positive for the virus.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

Catalonia locks down 200,000 over coronavirus outbreak

People will not be allowed to enter or exit Segria zone, which includes Lleida city, after a sharp rise in infections.

Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region on Saturday locked down an area with about 200,000 residents following a surge in cases of the new coronavirus.

Catalonia’s regional president Quim Torra said there had been a “sharp rise” in infections in Segria, a zone that includes the city of Lleida some 150 kilometres (90 miles) west of Barcelona.

“We’ve decided to confine Segria due to data that confirm too significant a growth in the number of COVID-19 infections,” Torra told a news conference.

People would not be allowed to enter or leave the area, gatherings of more than 10 people would be banned and visits to retirement homes halted, officials said.

The restrictions do not apply to seasonal harvest workers, and movement is not restricted within the zone, however.

Regional health ministry data showed there were 3,706 cases in the Lleida region on Friday, up from 3,551 the previous day.

Catalonia is one of the hardest-hit parts of Spain, with a total of 72,860 coronavirus cases, according to regional health ministry data released on Friday.

The move came as the summer holiday started in Spain and the country began re-admitting visitors from 12 countries outside the European Union, two weeks after allowing people from the EU’s visa-free Schengen zone and Britain to return.

“It is a surprise,” said Josep Raluy, a 63-year-old retiree who returned to the area from a second home as a precaution. “It’s another step backwards, it’s not good.”

Spain has been one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic with at least 28,385 deaths, Europe’s fourth-highest toll after Britain, Italy and France.

Madrid imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus and only recently began to open up.

Cultural site reopens

Barcelona celebrated another milestone in its bid to reopen on Saturday, with visitors allowed back into the Sagrada Familia – an imposing modernist basilica that is among Spain’s most visited buildings.

In the first phase of its reopening, health workers were the first to be admitted as a tribute to their work battling the pandemic.

Matilde Fuentes, a 49-year-old doctor, was particularly touched.

“We went through very difficult times, we tried to be there whenever we were needed, and now that they thank us it gives me goosebumps.”

Speaking during a trip Saturday to Galicia in the country’s northwest – the first region to exit the lockdown last month – Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned: “Do not let your guard down, but do not let yourself be overcome by fear.”

“We must take to the streets, take advantage of the new normality, revive the economy,” the socialist leader said, adding that “the state is better prepared to fight” against the resurgence of the epidemic.

On Friday, Spain registered 17 virus deaths within 24 hours, its highest daily toll since June 19. There have been more than 50 reported outbreaks throughout nearly all of the country’s regions.

The total number of cases now stands at 250,545 in a country of 47 million.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

WW3 fears: Kim Jong-Un rejects talks with Trump over North Korea’s nuclear programme

We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

North Korean vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui has warned the US Kim Jong-Un has no intention of changing policy and surrendering its nuclear weapons. Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump have met three times during the US President’s first term.

In their second meeting in 2019, talks broke down after chairman Kim failed to offer enough nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles in exchange for lifting international sanctions.

In a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency, Mr Hui questioned the motive of the US and accused Washington of using the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DRPK) for political reasons.

Mr Hui said: “We do not feel any need to sit face to face with the US as it does not consider the DPRK-US dialogue as nothing more than a tool for grappling its political crisis.”

He added: “There will never be any adjustment and change in our policy, conditional on external parameters like internal political schedule of someone.”

The refusal to engage with Washington comes as US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who led previous working-level negotiations with North Korea, is due to visit neighbouring South Korea to discuss relations.

The North Korean vice foreign minister also accused Washington of having a “hostile policy” towards Pyongyang and going back on previous agreements.

Mr Hui added any potential negotiations would be a waste of time and insisted the US is “mistaken” for thinking talks could achieve anything.

He said: “Is it possible to hold dialogue or have any dealings with the US which persists in the hostile policy toward the DPRK in disregard of the agreements already made at the past summit.

“It is clear to us, even without meeting, as to what shallow trick the US will approach us with, as it has neither intention nor will to go back to the drawing board.

“The US is mistaken if it thinks things like negotiations would still work on us.”

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un met for the first time in 2018 in Singapore, they met again in Vietnam in 2019 before nuclear talks broke down.

A third surprise meeting took place on in June 2019 at the demilitarised zone separating the North and South Korea – Mr Trump made history by becoming the first US president to set foot in North Korea.

Ahead of his visit to South Korea next week, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said there is time for both sides to re-engage and “make substantial progress”.

DON’T MISS

China FINALLY admits coronavirus failure as it announces crackdown [INSIGHT]
London panic as coronavirus R rate spikes in the capital – figure up [ANALYSIS]
Sadiq Khan squirms after his record as Mayor is savaged in on-air row [VIDEO]

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said Mr Trump and Kim Jong Un should meet again before the crucial US election in November.

President Moon Jae-in said: “I believe there’s a need for North Korea and the US to try dialogue one more time before the US presidential election.

“The issues of nuclear programs and sanctions will ultimately have to be resolved through North Korea-US talks.”

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

At least four killed in Somalia bomb attacks

Blast targets restaurant in Baidoa killing four as suicide bomber injures five in Mogadishu, officials say.

Explosions rocked two of Somalia’s largest cities on Saturday as officials said a suicide car bomber detonated near the port in Mogadishu and a landmine in a restaurant on the outskirts of Baidoa killed four people.

Al-Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow the country’s UN-recognised government, claimed responsibility for both attacks. 

Ali Abdullahi, an official with the South West regional state, told The Associated Press news agency the mine was detonated by remote control as people were dining during the morning rush. Several others were wounded.

In Mogadishu, thick smoke billowed over the port area after police Colonel Ahmed Ali said the car bomber detonated near the gates of the motor vehicle imports duty authority headquarters.

The bomber sped through the first security checkpoint before police officers opened fire on the vehicle, which exploded outside the gates, said Ismail Mukhtar, spokesman for Somalia’s information ministry. 

Five police officers were wounded, said police spokesman Sadik Aden Ali.

The blast shook the ground, said Mohammed Ali, a shopkeeper in the area. At the city’s Madina hospital, a nurse, Halima Nur, said it received five people injured in the blast.

Al-Shabab controls parts of southern and central Somalia and often targets the capital Mogadishu with suicide bombings.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

Shark kills man spearfishing off Australian coast

A man has died after being attacked by a shark off the east coast of Australia, officials say.

The 36-year-old was bitten on the leg while spearfishing in waters near Queensland’s Fraser Island, north of Brisbane, police said on Saturday.

A doctor and nurse provided first aid treatment on shore, but the man was later pronounced dead at the scene when paramedics arrived.

It is the fourth fatal shark attack in Australian waters so far this year.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Fraser Coast mayor George Seymour said it was a “tremendously sad day for our community”.

He offered his condolences to the victim’s family and friends, adding that the loss of life was “a tragedy beyond words and we share their sadness and grief”.

Police said the victim died about two-and-a-half hours after he was bitten.

His body was transported by helicopter from Indian Head on the eastern side of the island to the coastal city of Hervey Bay in Queensland.

Sharks are common in Australian waters but attacks are relatively rare.

Last month, a 60-year-old man died after he was mauled by a 3m (10ft) great white shark while surfing in northern New South Wales.

In April, a 23-year-old Queensland ranger was killed in an attack on the Great Barrier Reef.

And in January, a 57-year-old diver was killed off Western Australia.

No deaths were recorded last year.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

Turkey says it killed three PKK members in northern Iraq

Defence ministry says two aircraft detected and destroyed ‘terror targets’ with ties to the PKK.

Turkey attacked positions of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq and three PKK members were killed.

Weapons including rocket launchers, hand grenades, and assault rifles were destroyed, the Turkish defence ministry said on Saturday.

Late on Friday, two fighter jets detected and destroyed “terror targets” with ties to the PKK and the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the Avasin and Baysan regions, a statement said.

“Eagles of the skies are always on duty. Mission has been successfully completed,” the ministry added, sharing footage of F-16 jets targeting mountain hideouts.

Turkey recently launched Operation Claw-Tiger and Operation Claw-Eagle, parallel offensives targeting the PKK in northern Iraq.

The PKK is based in the Qandil Mountains in Iraq near the Iranian border and is considered a “terrorist” organisation by Turkey, the European Union, and the United States.

At least 40,000 people have died in the three-decade conflict between the PKK and Turkey. After a peace process collapsed in 2015, ending a two-year ceasefire, the government said it would not return to talks with the group.

Since then, Turkey has regularly targeted the PKK in the predominantly Kurdish southeast and attacked its positions in northern Iraq.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

Video shows fatal shooting of unarmed man by Carlsbad ranger – The Denver Post

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Recently released body camera video shows the final moments before an unarmed Colorado man was shot and killed by a park ranger at Carlsbad Caverns.

KOB-TV in Albuquerque reported Tuesday that video from the March shooting has 26 seconds missing, leaving local prosecutors unsure whether to rule the use of force was justified.

Authorities say National Park Ranger Robert Mitchell stopped Charles “Gage” Lorentz for erratic driving March 21. The video shows Lorentz outside of his vehicle and initially complying. But then when ordered to turn around, Lorentz starts dancing to music from another car.

Mitchell commands Lorentz to take his hands out of his pockets and — without warning — deployed his Taser. The video then resumes 26 second later showing the ranger on top of Lorentz. Mitchell then fires his service weapon twice.

Lorentz had been traveling from Texas back to his home in Colorado. Authorities say he had stopped in Carlsbad to meet a friend.

Shannon Kennedy, an attorney representing Lorentz’s family, said they intend to sue the U.S. Interior Department and the National Park Service.

The National Park Service, through an email, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Mexico is investigating.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

Prayers for the dead as Myanmar's young jade miners mourned

(Reuters) – University student Saw Myint Tun travelled hundreds of miles from home in February to work the jade mines of northern Myanmar in search of gems that might transform his family’s modest fortunes.

Instead, they offered funeral prayers for him there on Saturday, lighting candles on a plywood coffin and chanting Buddhist sutras for the 21-year-old, one of more than 170 people killed in a landslide on Thursday.

The miners were hunting for precious stones in Hpakant – the centre of Myanmar’s secretive billion-dollar jade industry – when a wave of mud and water crashed onto them, entombing them under a layer of mud.

More than a dozen miners were cremated in Hpakant on Saturday, while 41 were buried in a mass grave. Seventy-seven were buried on Friday.

Thursday’s disaster, the worst in memory, highlights the perils of the trade, which draws impoverished migrants from across the country seeking to make their fortune.

It is not uncommon for university students to work in the mines gathering pocket money for the next semester. Officials said the victims were freelance jade pickers who scoured tailings, the residue from mining, for stones missed by larger operators.

Myanmar supplies 90% of the world’s jade, the vast majority exported to neighbouring China. Rights groups say the industry is riddled with abuses. Scores are killed every year.

Like many others who died, Saw Myint Tun was from Rakhine state, his brother-in-law, Hla Shwe Win, told Reuters.

Rakhine, one of Myanmar’s poorest regions, is the state from which more than 730,000 Rohingya were forced to flee for neighbouring Bangladesh after a military crackdown in 2017 that the U.N. has said was executed with genocidal intent. Myanmar denies committing genocide.

Now it is the site of an escalating war between Arakan Army rebels, who seek greater autonomy for the region, and government troops.

Hla Shwe Win said one of his brothers had died in the disaster, while another was wounded.

They had followed him to Hpakant to work in the mines, he said, as women wept over the coffin before it was burned in line with Buddhist traditions.

“They came here, counting on me,” he told Reuters, saying there were no words to describe how he felt.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
World News

Coronavirus: Spain puts 200,000 people in Catalonia back into lockdown as cases rise

More than 200,000 people in northeast Spain have been put back into an enforced lockdown following several new outbreaks of coronavirus.

Residents in the county of Segria, which includes the city of Lleida, in the Catalonia region, were told by authorities not to leave the area from midday (11am in the UK) on Saturday, and were given until 4pm local time (3pm in the UK) to enter the area if outside.

However, people will not be confined to their homes as was the case in Spain‘s original strict lockdown, which came into force on 14 March as cases of coronavirus were rising around the world.

“We have decided to confine Segria due to data that confirms too significant a growth in the number of COVID-19 infections,” Catalan regional president Quim Torra told a news briefing.

Regional health ministry data showed there were 3,706 cases in the Lleida region on Friday, up from 3,551 the previous day.

The new outbreaks have been linked to agricultural workers in the rural area.

Spain has registered 205,545 coronavirus cases and 28,385 deaths, making it one of the worst affected countries in Europe.

After imposing a strict lockdown in March, the Spanish government has been gradually easing restrictions since early May.

However, like Leicester in the UK, Segria faces a localised lockdown.

Movement for work will be permitted, but from Tuesday workers entering or leaving the area will have to present a certificate from their employer.

Germany has also seen a local lockdown, with Guetersloh county, the country’s most populous state, reintroducing restrictions in June after a coronavirus outbreak at a slaughterhouse.

More than 1,500 people from the Toennies plant tested positive for COVID-19.

Source: Read Full Article