Category Archives: World

President Buhari in plea for Nigerian unity

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has addressed the nation following three months of medical leave in the UK.

In a televised speech, Mr Buhari, 74, said he was “distressed” by calls for the dissolution of Nigeria, urging Nigerians to come together.

But the president failed to disclose his illness. It was his second spell of medical leave this year.

Many Nigerians had called for him to resign during his absence, saying he was unfit to run the country.

Others have called for more transparency over his condition, as speculation grows over whether he will be fit to seek a second term in 2019.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has been in charge during his leave but Mr Buhari has now officially resumed his duties as president.

Speaking two days after his return, Mr Buhari said that comments around the dissolution of Nigeria had “crossed national red lines”.

“Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable,” he said. “We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble.”

The president also made reference to ethnic violence in the country, blaming “political mischief-makers”.

Ethnic tensions – with some calling for a separate state in the south-east known as Biafra – surfaced during his leave, while the war against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram continued in parts of the north.

Back when Mr Buhari first went to London – in June 2016 – his office said it was for a persistent ear infection.

An official statement released in March 2017 – following a longer spell away – said that the president ad been on “vacation, during which he had medical check-ups”.

His main opponents in Nigeria’s 2015 election had claimed he had prostate cancer – which he denied.

Source: BBC

Man shot dead in hunt for suspect in Barcelona attack

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A roadblock near the scene of the shooting

Police hunting the chief suspect in last Thursday’s Barcelona van attack have shot dead a man to the west of the city who appeared to be wearing an explosive belt, Spanish media say.

The shooting is said to have happened on a road in the Subirats area.

Earlier, police confirmed they were hunting for Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, suspected of driving a van into dozens of people on Las Ramblas.

Some Spanish media are reporting Abouyaaqoub is the man killed.

But Spanish police have yet to officially confirm this.

Media reports quoting police sources said the man targeted in Subirats shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Greatest”) when confronted.

The operation took place some 25 miles (40km) from Barcelona, where Thursday’s attack on Las Ramblas killed 13.

An extensive manhunt was under way.

El Mundo says police were alerted to a man fitting the description of Abouyaaqoub near a petrol station.

Bomb disposal officers also attended, police say.

At an earlier news conference, police described how after the attack Abouyaaqoub made his escape on foot to the outskirts of the city where he hijacked a car.

CCTV footage in Spanish media appears to show him walking through a market district shortly after the attack.

Some 90 minutes after mowing down dozens of people on the central Las Ramblas avenue, Abouyaaqoub fled to the city’s university district, police said.

Abouyaaqoub is alleged to have hijacked the car before driving it through a police checkpoint and later abandoning the vehicle. Police say he may have crossed into France.
The male driver of the car, Pau Pérez, 34, from Vila Franca, was found stabbed to death in the back seat, becoming the 15th victim of the Barcelona bloodshed and a   later attack in the resort of Cambrils.

A woman died in Cambrils when a car was driven into pedestrians and five suspected jihadists were killed at the scene by police.

At the earlier news conference on Monday, officials also revealed there were “strong indications” that an imam suspected of radicalising the young men who carried out the attacks had died in an explosion at a house in Alcanar, south of Barcelona, that was being used as a bomb factory.

Source BBC

South Africa grants Grace Mugabe immunity

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Mrs Mugabe (L) failed to show at a summit in Pretoria on Saturday

South Africa has granted diplomatic immunity to Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe, allowing her to leave the country without answering questions about an assault allegation.

President Robert Mugabe and his wife arrived back in Harare early on Sunday.

Mrs Mugabe, 52, is accused of assaulting model Gabriella Engels a week ago at a Johannesburg hotel where her sons were staying.

She has not commented publicly on the case.

A lawyer for Ms Engels told the BBC that they were planning to challenge the immunity decision in court.

Willie Spies said he would argue that the first lady should not have been given special treatment as she had been in South Africa on private business.

The South African government’s decision came in a notice from International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, published in the Government Gazette on Sunday.

“I hereby recognise the immunities and privileges of the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Dr Grace Mugabe,” she said.

On Saturday, Mrs Mugabe had been due to take part in the first ladies’ programme at the Southern African Development Community heads of state summit in Pretoria, which Mr Mugabe, 93, was attending.

However, she failed to show up.

South African police had said they wanted to interview Mrs Mugabe and had set up a “red alert” at the borders to try to ensure she did not leave the country.

But Zimbabwe’s ZBC state broadcaster reported that President Mugabe and his wife “arrived on board an Air Zimbabwe flight early on Sunday morning”.

It showed pictures of her greeting officials at Harare airport.

Ms Engels’ lawyers have said their client was offered money to drop the case but she refused.

She appeared at a press conference on Thursday with a large plaster on her forehead. She has alleged that Mrs Mugabe beat her with an extension cable at the hotel where the model was staying with Mrs Mugabe’s two sons.

She told the BBC: “She hit me with the plug and the extension cord. And I just remember being curled down on the floor with blood rushing down my face and down my neck.”

The South African Broadcasting Corporation said the Mugabes were scheduled to attend a funeral for a state minister at Harare’s Heroes Acre on Sunday.

Source: BBC

Nigeria’s Buhari returns home

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Some senior government officials recently visited Buhari at his London ‘home’

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari returned home on Saturday after three months of staying in the United Kingdom for medical care.

President Buhari left Abuja on May 7 and has stayed in London since then.

He had assured Nigerians there was no cause to worry when he left, a second time, for London for medical care.

Buhari is expected to address the nation in a live broadcast Monday morning.

Vice President Professor Yemi Osibanjo has acted as president since the departure of Mr Buhari to London.

Buhari, 74, was met on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja by several government dignitaries.

He was whisked away to Aso Rock.

Watch his arrival below:

By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh||Ghana

Congo mine

Congo mudslide death toll ‘to rise to 200’

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In W/Africa, Sierra Leone are yet to recover from a deadly mudslide

The death toll from Wednesday’s landslide in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is expected to rise above 200, officials say.

Most of the dead are from a fishing community on Lake Albert.

Officials say the figure is based on the number of households buried after heavy rains caused parts of a nearby mountain to collapse.

Hopes of finding survivors has faded as rescuers do not have the means to move the large rocks.

“There are many people submerged whom we were unable to save,” Pacifique Keta, the vice governor of Ituri province told Reuters news agency.

Mountains made the area difficult to access, Mr Keta added.

Many parts of west and central Africa are vulnerable to landslides, because land is heavily deforested and communities crowd into steep hillsides.

Eastern Congo is also on a seismic fault line and frequently suffers earthquakes.

More than 400 people have been killed and 600 remain missing after a similar disaster in Sierra Leone.

Source: BBC

New manhunt for Barcelona attack driver

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Police immediately inspected the Fiat van used in the attack

The driver in Thursday’s van attack that killed 13 people in a tourist area of Barcelona may still be alive and on the run, Spanish police say.

They are hunting for Moroccan-born Younes Abouyaaqoub, now named by Spanish media as the suspected driver.

A man previously reported as the key suspect, Moussa Oukabir, 17, was one of five men killed by police after a later attack in Cambrils, west of Barcelona.

Police say the suspects had been planning more sophisticated attacks.

They said blasts on Wednesday at a house in the town of Alcanar deprived plotters of bomb material, so they carried out simpler attacks using vehicles.

Abouyaaqoub, 22, lived in the town of Ripoll to the north of Barcelona. Three people have been arrested in Ripoll and one person in Alcanar.

Oukabir had previously been seen as the main suspect – but late on Friday police chief Josep Trapero told local TV that the theory that he was the driver now “had less weight”.

El Pais newspaper said there was a growing belief that Abouyaaqoub was the main suspect.

Oukabir is suspected of using his brother’s documents to rent the van used in the Barcelona attack and another found hours later in the town of Vic, north of Barcelona, that was intended as a getaway vehicle.

In the early hours of Friday police shot dead five attackers, including Oukabir, in Cambrils after the men drove a car into pedestrians, killing one woman and injuring six other people.

The attackers’ vehicle overturned and when the men got out they were quickly fired upon by police. One was reportedly brandishing a knife.

Police chief Trapero said one officer killed four of the attackers single-handedly.

The men were wearing what appeared to be explosive belts, police said, but these proved to be fake.

On Saturday, police said they were carrying out controlled explosions at the Alcanar site.

El Mundo says that officials believe a cell of at least a dozen people was operating at the house, which was being used as a bomb factory to carry out attacks with even greater devastation than Las Ramblas.

Thursday’s attack occurred when a Fiat van was driven down the pedestrianised Las Ramblas area, killing 13 people and injured scores more.

Only five of the dead have been named so far:

  • American Jared Tucker, 43
  • Canadian Ian Moore Wilson
  • Spaniard Francisco López Rodríguez, in his 60s
  • Italian Bruno Gulotta, 35
  • Italian Luca Russo, 25

A 74-year-old Portuguese woman, a 40-year-old woman with dual Argentine and Spanish citizenship and a Belgian were also killed, their governments said.

Seven-year-old Julian Cadman, a dual British-Australian national who was separated from his mother during the attack, is missing, ABC Australia reports. His mother was reportedly among the seriously injured.

Catalonia emergency services gave a new breakdown of the injured on Saturday:

  • Barcelona attack: 12 critical, 24 serious, 11 less serious, 3 minor
  • Cambrils attack: 1 serious, 2 less serious, 1 minor

Source: BBC

Russia knife attacker wounds eight

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Europe has suffered deadly knife attacks in the last few days

Eight people have been wounded in a knife attack in the Russian city of Surgut, security sources say.

The man, who apparently stabbed passers-by on the street at random, was shot dead by police.

The injured have been taken to hospital, where two are in a critical condition, the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency reports.

Russia’s Investigations Committee said the attacker had been “liquidated”. No motive has been established yet.

The TASS news agency quoted local police as saying the man may have been suffering from mental illness.

News outlet Russia Today reported the attack happened at about 11:20 local time (06:20 GMT).

Surgut, about 2,100km (1,300 miles) east of Moscow in the Khanty-Mansiysk area of Siberia, has a population of more than 350,000.

Source: BBC

Spanish police stop second attack; kill 5 suspected terrorists

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Police inspect the vehicle used in the Cambrils attack in Spain

Spanish police say they have killed five people in the town of Cambrils to stop a second attempted van attack after an earlier one in Barcelona.

The attackers were wearing explosive belts, police said.

Thirteen people died and dozens were injured when a van ploughed into crowds in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas area on Thursday afternoon. The driver of the van fled and is still at large.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said it was a “jihadist attack”.

The authorities are now linking the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils with an explosion at a house on Wednesday evening in the town of Alcanar that left one person dead.

Earlier, police chief Josep Lluis Trapero said it appeared the residents at the Alcanar house had been “preparing an explosive device”.

In Cambrils seven people including a police officer were wounded when a car was driven into a group early on Friday, Catalan emergency services said. One is in critical condition.

Spanish media reported that the attackers’ vehicle overturned and when the men got out they were quickly fired upon by police.

A series of controlled explosions was then carried out.

Police say the situation in Cambrils – a popular seaside resort to the south-west of Barcelona – is now under control.

Meanwhile police are continuing to search for the driver of the van used in the Barcelona attack, who fled on foot.

Tourists and locals fled when the rented vehicle sped down Las Ramblas in the centre of the city, mowing down people.

Witnesses said the van deliberately targeted people, weaving from side to side as it drove down the boulevard.

Two people have been arrested, but police say neither was the driver.

Police have released a photo of a man named as Driss Oubakir, whose documents were used to rent the van involved in the attack.

Local media say he is in his 20s, and was born in Morocco. However, latest reports suggest he has told police he was not involved, and that his documents were stolen.

So-called Islamic State has said it was behind the Las Ramblas attack, saying in a brief statement carried by its Amaq news agency that it was carried out by “Islamic State soldiers”. The group gave no further evidence or details to back this claim.

Vehicles have been used to ram into crowds in a series of attacks across Europe since July last year.

In another incident, police shot dead a man who drove into officers at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Barcelona, but the authorities said there was no evidence that he was connected to the attack in Las Ramblas.

What did people see in Barcelona?

A businessman from New Orleans, who was just arriving in a taxi in Las Ramblas, said: “I heard a crowd screaming. It sounded like they were screaming for a movie star.

“I saw the van. It had already been busted on the front. It was weaving left and right, trying to hit people as fast as possible. There were people lying on the ground.”

Aamer Anwar said he was walking down Las Ramblas, which was “jam-packed” with tourists.

“All of a sudden, I just sort of heard a crashing noise and the whole street just started to run, screaming. I saw a woman right next to me screaming for her kids,” he told Sky News.

“Police were very, very quickly there, police officers with guns, batons, everywhere. Then the whole street started getting pushed back.

“Police officers who got there just started screaming at people to move back, move back.”

Kevin Kwast, who is on holiday in Barcelona with his family, said: “I was eating with my family in La Boqueria market very near where the crash occurred.

“Hundreds of people started stampeding through the market… we started running with them going outside right into where casualties were already on the ground.

“Police pushed us into a money transfer shop and we’ve been sheltering there for over an hour.”

Prime Minister Rajoy has travelled to Barcelona and declared three days of national mourning.

Source BBC

Akufo-Addo to send relief items to support Sierra Leone

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President Akufo-Addo and Sierra Leone President, Ernest Bai Koroma in May 2017

Ghana government has resolved to support Sierra Leone with relief items to help the people who have been devastated by flooding and mudslide that has left scores of people dead and 600 more missing.

At least 400 lives have been lost and 3,000 people rendered homeless in the disaster that has left part of Freetown in devastation. The country’s president, Ernest Bai Koroma, has declared seven days of mourning while pleading for “urgent support,” the BBC reported.

African countries and their leaders have since the incident not shown much support to Sierra Leone, something that was on Wednesday condemned by Ghana’s Economic Fighters League, a political movement.

The League expressed surprise at African governments for their deafening silence on the disaster, stating “So far, African countries have said nothing let alone sent anything to comfort our fellow Africans in Sierra Leone and to alleviate their suffering.”

But Ghana’s president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Thursday morning tweeted his government was in the process of sending relief items to support the people of Sierra Leone who are struggling in their recovery process.

“Government is in the process of sending relief items to Sierra Leone to aid in the recovery process,” Akufo-Addo tweeted.

Nana Akufo-Addo said on Tuesday he called his Sierra Leonean counterpart, President Ernest Bai Koroma, to express his condolences and that of Ghanaians to the people of Sierra Leone.

He tweeted: “I called President Ernest Bai Koroma on Tuesday to express my and the condolences of Ghanaians on the tragic loss of lives and property following Monday’s mudslide in Sierra Leone”.

The BBC reported Thursday that dozens of volunteers like Jibrila Sesay are playing a central role in the gruesome clear-up operation after Monday morning’s disaster.

“We have been collecting corpses and pieces of corpses and bringing them to the mortuary. It does not stop,” says Mr Sesay in a break outside the Connaught Hospital mortuary.

The volunteers are shuttled at high speed in police trucks and Red Cross vehicles to and from the devastated Regent area, the BBC reported

The operation aims to prevent a health emergency – caused by rotting human remains on the hillside – from compounding the impact of the deadly landslide and floods, the report added.

Inside the rundown city centre mortuary, chief pathologist Simeon Owis Koroma is writing his 350th death certificate since Monday.

“There will be more bodies, in smaller numbers in the coming weeks. That’s how it is with disasters in Sierra Leone. But we cope. We are lucky because we are prepared,” he says, paying tribute to the volunteers like Mr Sesay who were trained in safe burials during the 2014 Ebola epidemic.


Australian leader stuns parliament with burka

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Pauline Hanson took her usual seat in the Senate chamber wearing burka

The leader of Australia’s far-right One Nation party has worn a burka on the floor of the nation’s Senate. Pauline Hanson’s entrance drew audible shock from other senators ahead of a bid by her party to ban the garment in Australia.

Government minister George Brandis condemned Ms Hanson’s stunt and “counselled and cautioned” her against causing offence to religious groups.

Mr Brandis received a standing applause from opposition parties.

In an emotional speech, Mr Brandis said Ms Hanson’s actions risked alienating approximately 500,000 Australians who adhered to the Islamic faith.

“To ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments, is an appalling thing to do and I would ask you reflect on what you have done,” said Ms Brandis, who is Australia’s attorney-general.

He added: “No, Senator Hanson, we will not ban the burka.”

The Australian Broadcasting Corp reported Ms Hanson had elicited gasps during her entrance and one senator was heard to to say “oh, what on earth”.

Senate president Stephen Parry confirmed she had been identified before entering the chamber. Ms Hanson later removed the burka.

Her motion to ban the garment will be debated in the Senate later on Thursday.

In a statement online, she said “the need to ban full face coverings in public [is] an important issue facing modern Australia”.

Mr Brandis’s speech drew a rare overt display of support from the Labor and Greens parties, who stood and congratulated him.

“It is one thing to wear religious dress as a sincere act of faith, there is another to wear it as a stunt here in the chamber,” said Labor Senator Penny Wong.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said Mr Brandis had made a “strong, impassioned, and personal response”.

Ms Hanson has repeatedly generated controversy since first being elected to parliament in 1996.

In 2016, she gave a heavily criticised speech saying Australia was being “swamped by Muslims”. She also faced calls to apologise two months ago after suggesting students with autism should be removed from classrooms.

Source BBC