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Thursday:  July 24, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in Boko Haram (3)

Friday
Jan272012

Nigeria's Boko Haram vows to fight until country establishes sharia law

A spokesman for Boko Haram tells the Guardian exclusively that the Islamist group says it will not stop deadly attacks until country is ruled according to dictates of Allah.

The Islamist group Boko Haram, which has killed almost 1,000 people in Nigeria, will continue its campaign of violence until the country is ruled by sharia law, a senior member has told the Guardian.

"We will consider negotiation only when we have brought the government to their knees," the spokesman, Abu Qaqa, said in the group's first major interview with a western newspaper. "Once we see that things are being done according to the dictates of Allah, and our members are released [from prison], we will only put aside our arms – but we will not lay them down. You don't put down your arms in Islam, you only put them aside."

Qaqa, whose name is a pseudonym, said the group's members were spiritual followers of al-Qaida, and claimed they had met senior figures in the network founded by Osama bin Laden during visits to Saudi Arabia.

The interview comes a week after Boko Haram claimed responsibility for Nigeria's single deadliest terrorist attack, which killed 186 people in the northern city of Kano.

In an audio message posted on YouTube on Friday, the group's current leader, Abubakar Shekau, threatened to bomb schools and kidnap family members of government officials.

"If [security forces] are going to places of worship and destroying them, like mosques and Quranic schools, you have primary schools as well, you have secondary schools and universities, and we will start bombing them."

Shekau rejected calls for a negotiated peace from President Goodluck Jonathan, who on Thursday called for the shadowy sect to step out of the shadows and engage in dialogue.

Nigerian officials have voiced hopes for a negotiated settlement with "moderate elements" of the group. "Under the circumstances, if you look hard enough, you can find moderate elements you can communicate with," General Andrew Azazi, the national security adviser to the president, told the Wall Street Journal on Friday.

Western diplomats say Boko Haram has splintered and the hardliners leading the factions responsible for the wave of violence that has killed some 250 people this year appear to have rejected any suggestion of dialogue.

The Guardian was able to contact Abu Qaqa through an intermediary from the group's home state. The go-between has been in contact with the group since its inception, and met with its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, several times before he was killed in 2009. For most of the interview he used a voice modulator, but local journalists confirmed that his undisguised voice matched recordings of previous interviews.

Qaqa said Shekau and others had travelled to Saudi Arabia for training and funding. "Al-Qaida are our elder brothers. During the lesser Hajj [last August], our leader travelled to Saudi Arabia and met al-Qaida there. We enjoy financial and technical support from them. Anything we want from them we ask them."

He said recruits from neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger had joined the group. A recent UN report said weapons from Libya may have been smuggled to Boko Haram and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghre via Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

Security officials and diplomats in Abuja said they had no evidence of a link with al-Qaida in Saudi Arabia, but an official confirmed that "elements of Boko Haram have made contact with external groups". The extent and frequency of that contact was unknown, the official said.

In the decade since it first appeared, Boko Haram has graduated from crude driveby attacks on beer parlours to bombing security buildings in the northern Muslim heartland. Its most audacious attack targeted the United Nations building in the capital, Abuja, killing 25 in August. In recent weeks, Christians institutions have increasingly come under fire. A Christmas Day bomb attack on a packed church just outside the capital claimed almost 40 lives.

But Qaqa said the rights of the country's 70 million Christians, who represent half of Nigeria's population, "would be protected" under the group's envisioned Islamic state. "Even the prophet Mohammed lived with non-Muslims and he gave them their dues." But he said everyone must abide by sharia law: "There are no exceptions. Even if you are a Muslim and you don't abide by sharia, we will kill you. Even if you are my own father, we will kill you."

Speaking fluent but non-native Hausa, the lingua franca across the Sahelian belt on the cusp of the Sahara desert, he said: "It's the secular state that is responsible for the woes we are seeing today. People should understand that we are not saying we have to rule Nigeria, but we have been motivated by the stark injustice in the land. People underrate us but we have our sights set on [bringing sharia to] the whole world, not just Nigeria."

Sharia law is already in place across 12 states in the Muslim-majority north. Few believe the group's radical ideology has traction in Nigeria's mainly Christian south, which is also home to millions of Muslims and has so far been out of the group's reach.

Raising his voice for the only time during the interview, Qaqa denied reports that some governors in northern Nigeria paid the group monthly allowances in exchange for immunity from attacks. "May God punish anyone that said so," he said, before adding that the group has popular support in the north.

"Poor people are tired of the injustice, people are crying for saviours and they know the messiahs are Boko Haram.   "People were singing songs in [northern cities] Kano and Kaduna saying: 'We want Boko Haram'," Qaqa said, describing how the group can blend into the communities in which it operates. "If the masses don't like us they would have exposed us by now. When Islam comes everyone would be happy," he said.

Diplomats say Nigeria's security services are belatedly attempting to gain control of the situation, which was previously dismissed as an internal, northern squabble often fuelled by politicians with personal grievances.

"There is an ongoing review of all security agencies," the presidential aide Ken Wiwa said. "This is a relatively new phenomenon in Nigeria and the administration is working hard to improve its capacity to respond. There are various other initiatives which will be implemented but this is as much a political as a security issue."

An official said Nigeria's central bank was involved in measures aimed at strangling the group's external funding sources, including speeding up a cashless economy.

(By the Guardian’s Monica Mark in Abuja, Nigeria.  READ MORE HERE)

Sunday
Jan222012

Non Natives Flee as Nigeria’s President Visits bombed City of Kano 

(PHOTO: Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan meets the Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero on Sunday/PM News) By Maduabuchi NMeribeh/ Kano

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan today visited the city of Kano, the scene of the most deadly offensive, so far, by the Islamic militant group, the Boko Haram.

As it is the practice, Jonathan vowed to identify and deal with sponsors and foot-soldiers of the sect and also announced on BBC later that some arrests have been made. He was in the state to assess the extent of havoc wrought by the Islamic fundamentalists in last Friday’s coordinated attacks on the ancient city.

The Nigerian President told the BBC that some arrests have been made over the attacks which according to some sources have so far claimed over 160 lives.

“Some arrests have been made. Some died in the process. Some were suicide bombers,” Jonathan said. It is not clear whether the President was talking of fresh arrests or a couple of Boko Boko Haram members Police claimed to have arrested during the attack.

“There must be people who are sponsoring them. Terrorists all over the world have their source of income. We are also looking into those areas to make sure that the so-called Boko Haram… those who are encouraging them, those who are sponsoring them, shall be brought to book,” said Jonathan who added that the perpetrators of the dastard act will be made to face the full wrath of the law added.

While commiserating with the Emir of Kano, President Jonathan again promised that his administration will ensure that terrorism becomes a thing of the past in the country.

“Our coming today is to express our condolence to the good people of Kano over the dastardly acts. Those causing havoc will never succeed … The federal government will not rest until the perpetrators are brought to book. We will not rest until these terrorists are wiped out,” said the President.

“A terrorist attack on one person is an attack on all of us,” Jonathan said as he inspected sites targeted in the violence, and met the city’s top Muslim traditional leader, Emir Ado Bayero, pledging to boost security”, he added.

The attacks have been described the biggest single attack so far since about five years of the sect’s insurgency.

Last Friday, Boko Haram held Kano hostage bombing and shooting in about 10 locations.  In the aftermath, about 200 people died, many were injured. Government and church properties were burnt.

Since the attack that sent fear and panic into the ancient city, security has been beefed up with soldiers taking over the streets.

Non-natives from the South were left with no choice than to embark on panic travelling.  Many Southerners today turned up at the New Road Park in Sabon Gari, to board luxury buses to the Eastern parts of Nigeria, as government eased the 24-hour curfew into a dusk to dawn curfew.

President Jonathan at Emir Ado Bayero’s palace, commiserated with the Emir and the people of Kano just as he regretted the multiple bomb attacks on security formations and Saint Louis Catholic Church at Bompai.

“The people doing this are not spirit. They are among us. I seek the cooperation of all towards getting those involved in the havoc arrested. I assure Nigerians that the government will intensify its security in Kano and all over the country to unravel the misery behind this act.

“What is good for us as a nation is to look at our neighbours, to know what they do to enable us fish out these miscreants because if we don’t, one day, it may be against us. We will not rest until these terrorists are wiped out,” the President stated.

He charged Nigerians to be watchful of bad elements in the society who continue to distract peace and stability, adding that, “Nigerians should do everything possible to make sure that miscreants in our midst are immediately reported to security agents. It is the responsibility of all Nigerians to fight militancy.”

The President also promised to order the deployment of more security agents in the state in addition to providing them with modern security equipment and logistics.

“Any dangerous attack on any community is an attack to Nigerians. In some years back, none of us will believe that Nigeria will be involved in suicide bombing mission,” he stated.

He therefore appealed to traditional rulers and patriotic Nigerians to educate their people on the inherent danger of terrorism.  While receiving the President in his palace, Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero, in an emotional-laden tune condemned the perpetrators of the attack on Innocent citizens in the state, adding that Kano is now plunged into fears and apprehension which he urged the Federal Government to do everything to tackle the menace of insecurity in the country.

The Emir reiterated the fact that Kano being the most populous state in the country with a number of border communities should have adequate security personnel.

The President later visited the affected areas of the bomb blasts including the badly torched Zone 1 headquarters of the Police to access the damage. He promised that the Federal and state governments were ready to assist the injured and relatives of the dead during the attack.

--- Reporters Maduabuchi NMeribeh in Kano with Ayorinde Oluokun in Abuja contributed to this report which first ran in PM News Nigeria. 

Friday
Jan202012

Nigeria Under Attack (NEWS BRIEF)

(UPDATED JAN 21 1900GMT) - A series of coordinated bomb attacks on Friday aimed at key government installations in the northern Nigerian city of Kano has killed more than 150 people, with death tolls still rising.An eyewitness photo of one of the attacks in Kano. CREDIT: Vanguard Newspaper

Eyewitness reports said among the installations hit were the police headquarters for the north and the passport office.

Channels Television, an independent broadcaster based in Lagos, said in a Twitter message that its Kano correspondent, Enenche Akogwu, 31, was shot dead in the mayhem by suspected members of Boko Haram.

The apparently coordinated attacks represent one of the worst and most brazen assaults on the country, and follows a Christmas Day bomb attack on a Catholic church near Abuja and another on the UN headquarters in the capital in August, which killed more than 20 people.

"The nature of these attacks has sickened people around the world...There is no place in today's world for such barbaric acts," said UK Foreign Secretary William J. Hague.

A BBC correspondent in Kano said he would be surprised if the death toll was anything less than 100. A mortuary official quoted by the BBC said exact casualty figures were hard to come by as many people were likely still buried under rubble.

Al Arabiya, quoting a hospital source, said 162 bodies were brought to area morgues.

In the Kano attack, at least six explosions could be heard. Eyewitnesses writing on Twitter said security forces moved in as firefighters struggle to bring some blazes under control. An immediate 24-hour curfew has been imposed.

And, in an unprecedented move, Nigeria closed its borders Saturday with Cameroon and Niger, ostensibly because militants move freely from those countries into Nigeria.

With more than 9-million people, Kano is the most populated city in Nigeria after Lagos and is the capital of the predominantly Muslim north. The BBC, which has a correspondent in nearby Kaduna, said the radical Islamic sect, Boko Haram, has taken responsibility.

The attacks come on the tail end of labour disruptions that virtually paralyzed the nation for several days.

As news of the Kano attack spread, the exasperation of ordinary Nigerians came through on many tweets. Wrote a Twitter subscriber named Isha72 in Zaria, Nigeria: "Lord we may never have it as clueless as this again in Nigeria. How much can we take?"

Tweeted another user named Matt: "Where we are headed is not pretty."

One reader writing on the Vanguard Newspaper website said the violence shows it is time for the North and South - respectively predominantly Muslim and Christian - to go their own, separate ways: "When will the Southern leadership stand up and say: 'Enough with this marriage with the core North?'"

Several foreign governments, including Canada, have re-issued advisories against travel to Nigeria.

- HUMNEWS staff