Boko Haram expands own 'caliphate' in Nigeria

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Updated 27 August 2014
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Boko Haram expands own 'caliphate' in Nigeria

YAOUNDE, Cameroon: Boko Haram militants have seized control of a Nigerian town after soldiers deployed there fled to take refuge across the border in nearby Cameroon, police and locals said on Tuesday.
“Boko Haram fighters moved into Ashigashya” unchallenged by law enforcement overnight Monday, where they slaughtered three people in front of a church, a Cameroon police source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Boko Haram has in recent weeks switched tactics from hit-and-run attacks to attempting to seize and hold territory and have proclaimed one captured town, Gwoza, as part of an “Islamic caliphate.”
Assessing how much territory the militants now hold is impossible but residents have said the Islamists now control at least one town in Yobe state — Buni Yadi — as well as Gwoza and Gamboru Ngala in neighboring Borno.
Nigeria’s military dismissed reports that almost 500 Nigerian soldiers fled the border cities of Ashigashyia and Kerawa over the weekend to take refuge from Boko Haram militants on Cameroonian territory. It claimed that the troops were “charging through the borders in a tactical maneuver” when they found themselves on Cameroonian soil.
But a Cameroonian police officer said security was “deteriorating day by day in the border towns” as even those charged with keeping the peace flee attacks by Boko Haram.
Straddling the border between Cameroon and Nigeria, Ashigashya is bisected by a small river which marks the border between the two countries.
The police source said Boko Haram is now trying to take the Cameroonian side of the city.
“Cameroonian gendarmes fled the brigade to sleep at school in the city. When they tried to return to the police this morning, they were greeted by fire from Boko Haram” from the Nigerian side, said the police officer.
A Cameroon police officer stationed in the far north town of Fotokol told AFP that the militants tried to destroy a bridge on the Nigerian border with Cameroon, which serves as the border crossing with Gamboru Ngala in Nigeria.
The militants stormed Gamboru Ngala early on Monday and by evening had taken over the police station, a military barracks and vocational training center, where they had based themselves, locals said.
Three children were reportedly injured by flying shrapnel when explosives were detonated, possibly by firing from the Cameroon side of the border, they added.
In Adamawa, which has also been under a state of emergency since May last year, a local government official said scores of gunmen stormed the town of Madagali on Saturday, forcing out soldiers and taking over government buildings.
Local government chairman Maina Ularamu said the insurgents advanced from Gwoza, some 23 kilometers (14 miles) away, and took several villages in between.
“Boko Haram are now in control of Madagali and many villages in the area which have been deserted by residents for fear of attack by the insurgents,” he added.
Troops were chased out of the town of Gulak, the administrative headquarters for the region some 20 kilometers away from Madagali.
The Islamists arrived from Gwoza via Liman Kara, where they took over a police training college last week, Ularamu said.
“For now they are not killing residents but people are living in fear considering the carnage they carried out in Gwoza, despite giving assurances to residents they were not going to harm them,” he said.
On Monday, six people were killed in the village of Kafin Hausa while a church was burnt down in Sabon Garin Hyanbula on Sunday.
“People have been sneaking out from Madagali to avoid possible attack by the Boko Haram gunmen,” Ularamu said.


Pakistan prime minister calls for peace talks with India

Updated 53 min 3 sec ago
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Pakistan prime minister calls for peace talks with India

  • India has long accused Pakistan of backing militants in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two countries
  • 500,000 Delhi soldiers are positioned in the portion of Kashmir India controls

RIYADH: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday vowed to hold peace talks with arch-rival India following elections in the neighboring country, after a similar offer from the former cricketer was “rebuffed.”

Khan made the announcement during a speech at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh. The leader launched a charm offensive targeting potential investors as Pakistan seeks to secure funds amid a yawning balance of payments crisis.

“When I won the elections and came to power, the first thing I tried to do was extend a hand of peace to India,” Khan told the audience, saying the overture was later “rebuffed” by Delhi.

“Now what we are hoping is that we wait until the elections then again we will resume our peace talks with India,” he added, referring to nationwide polls scheduled to take place by mid-May.

In September India pulled the plug on a rare meeting between its foreign minister and its Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of a UN summit — a move that was termed “arrogant” by Khan and unleashed a barrage of insults from both sides.

India has long accused Pakistan of backing militants in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two countries but claimed in full by both since independence in 1947.

Delhi has stationed about 500,000 soldiers in the portion of Kashmir it controls, where separatist groups demand independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Khan also told the FII event that his country looks forward to a strong investment partnership with Saudi Arabia, including on energy projects.

Pakistan needs two oil refineries to meet demand, Khan said, and talks are underway with Saudi investors about the projects.

During the panel discussion Khan discussed investment, a corrupt-free Pakistan and “Naya Pakistan.” Naya Pakistan refers to a return to the principles of the country’s founding fathers: Truth, justice, meritocracy, the welfare state and, above all, the education of its people. He said it was particularly important to raise female literacy in Pakistan. 

Khan has been in power for 60 days but has inherited a massive debt. “We need to increase our exports because we have a shortage of foreign reserves,” he said.

Khan is looking for mix of loans from the International Monetary Fund IMF and “friendly governments” to address the shortfall. 

Key priorities were fighting corruption and creating jobs, Khan added, saying clamping down on money laundering was a major priority for the government. 

“Corruption is what makes a country poor,” he said. “It’s the difference between the developing world and an underdeveloped country. Corruption does two things; it destroys institution and diverts money from human development.”

With 100 million people below the age of 35, Khan said unemployment and housing were big pressures on the government but that Pakistan has embarked on an ambitious program to build five million homes in the next five years. He said the information technology sector could be an area where Pakistan could improve its exports and provide new jobs. 

“Pakistan is a country with potential. We have lost our way since the 60s but now Pakistan is ready and our biggest resource is the youth. And today is the best time to invest,” he said. 

Minerals, gold, copper reserves, zinc, gas, unexplored gas and tourism were areas that investors would be interested in, Khan said. 

“There is a vast amount of mineral wealth in Pakistan. We have some of the largest gold reserves in the world, as well as reserves of copper and zinc. Tourism is also a vital sector and has flourished in recent years.”

Khan said that Pakistan had now “controlled terrorism.”

“We need peace and stability and when Afghanistan’s situation settles, terrorism will end and the investments will grow to the central Asia region.” 

Khan said he admired China for tackling two problems that were the main issues facing Pakistan — poverty and corruption. 

In the past China had a large population that was on the brink of starvation but it had now brought 7 million people out of poverty and clamped down on corruption. Khan said that he was traveling to China next month for help in these two areas.