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.


Afghans ignore Ghani’s appeals on poll vote

Updated 14 min 48 sec ago
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Afghans ignore Ghani’s appeals on poll vote

  • A week after the voter registration process began, public turnout remains low.
  • Between 10 and 13 million Afghans out of the country’s estimated 30 million population are eligible to vote in the parliamentary and provincial council elections.

KABUL: Afghans appear to be ignoring President Ashraf Ghani’s pleas for people to register to vote in long-delayed elections set for Oct. 20.
A week after the voter registration process began, public turnout remains low.
Between 10 and 13 million Afghans out of the country’s estimated 30 million population are eligible to vote in the parliamentary and provincial council elections.
But so far the turnout in Kabul and other major cities may be as low as 113,000, officials believe.
Anyone failing to register before the government’s deadline in two weeks will be unable to vote. Mosques and schools have been turned into voting registration centers.
“We have had only a handful of people in this center since morning,” said Inamaullah, an official in the north of the capital.
Poor security and a lack of trust in the election process are being blamed for the poor turnout.
Many people have also expressed disappointment in the government for failing to deliver on basic election promises.
The slow pace of registration forced Ghani to appeal to officials and the country’s population to register.
“Today I spoke with the governors of 34 provinces and commanders of the armed forces … to speed up the voter registration process,” the leader of the joint National Unity Government said in a statement on Thursday.
“I asked the governors to direct civil servants and their family members who are eligible to vote to take part in this critical process.”
Ghani also told the Minister of Hajj Awqaf to ensure that prayer leaders encouraged people to take part in the voter registration process.
“I have directed the relevant officials to provide women with the necessary facilities to participate in voter registration, and I instructed security forces to safeguard polling stations,” the president said.
The British ambassador to Kabul was among foreign diplomats who urged Afghans to register and vote.
“I encourage all Afghans to take this opportunity to use their democratic right to perform their civic duty,” Nick Kay said in a video message posted on social media.
Ghani and his wife, Rula Ghani, were among the first to register.
The Afghan leader even urged Taliban militants to register and campaign for the elections — a call that was rejected.