32 pro-Biafra campaigners arrested in Nigeria

In this file photo, Pro-Biafra supporters shout slogans in Aba, southeastern Nigeria, during a protest. (AFP)
Updated 14 September 2017
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32 pro-Biafra campaigners arrested in Nigeria

LAGOS: More than 30 pro-Biafra supporters have been arrested after protests in southern Nigeria that left one police officer dead, police said on Thursday.
Rivers state police spokesman Nnamdi Omoni said 32 suspects were in custody after two days of what he said were “violent protests” in the state capital, Port Harcourt.
“They will be taken to court after investigations,” he told AFP by telephone.
Members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group have in recent days intensified their calls for a separate state for the dominant Igbo ethnic group in southeast Nigeria.
That has sparked clashes with the military and police.
Omoni said a police sergeant attached to the force riot squad was killed in Port Harcourt on Wednesday when IPOB members seized his rifle.
Several other officers were injured and a police patrol van was burnt.
Nine of the 32 were arrested in connection with the incident, while the 23 others were held on Tuesday after an attack on the city’s police training school, he added.
Tensions are running high between IPOB supporters and the military, which this week began operations against rising crime across the south.
In Abia state, next to Rivers, a police station in the commercial hub of Aba was burnt down between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Thursday, said police spokesman Geoffrey Ogbonna.
“We are investigating the incident but no arrest has been made,” he added.
But he denied reports that the commissioner of police’s residence in the state capital Umuahia was attacked.
A three-day dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed in Abia state on Tuesday to prevent clashes after IPOB said troops killed five of its members.
The army has denied the claims.
A video clip has been circulating online purportedly showing soldiers punishing IPOB members by forcing them to drink muddy water while stripped to the waist.
The army said it would look into the claims, vowing that any soldier found guilty of breaching its code of conduct “will face (the) full wrath of the military justice system.”
It also urged close public scrutiny of IPOB claims, warning the group will use “bogus, manipulated and photo-shopped photographs as well as video clips” to back their cause.
IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu has been charged with treasonable felony and is currently on bail pending the resumption of his trial in the capital, Abuja, next month.
A previous unilateral declaration of an independent republic of Biafra in 1967 led to a brutal 30-month civil war that left more than one million dead, most of them Igbos.


Thai cave boys to leave hospital

Updated 18 July 2018
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Thai cave boys to leave hospital

  • The “Wild Boars” football team are being discharged a day earlier than announced
  • Doctors have advised families of the boys, aged 11 to 16, that they should avoid letting them have contact with journalists for at least one month after they are discharged

CHIANG RAI, Thailand: Twelve boys and their football coach rescued from a cave in Thailand will leave hospital Wednesday and speak to the media for the first time, a government spokesman said.
The “Wild Boars” football team are being discharged a day earlier than announced and authorities hope that by holding the question and answer session before they head home it will satisfy the huge interest in their story.
“The reason to hold this evening press conference is so media can ask them questions and after that they can go back to live their normal lives without media bothering them,” Thailand’s chief government spokesman Sunsern Kaewkumnerd said.
But with experts warning of possible long-term distress from the ordeal inside the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand, this will be no ordinary briefing.
The public relations department in Chiang Rai province solicited questions from news outlets ahead of time and they will be forwarded to psychiatrists for screening.
Called “Sending the Wild Boars Home” and broadcast on major television channels, the session will last for about 45 minutes, Sunsern said, adding that it would be conducted in an informal style with a moderator.
“They are likely to return home immediately after the press conference,” he said.
Doctors have advised families of the boys, aged 11 to 16, that they should avoid letting them have contact with journalists for at least one month after they are discharged.
Though they and their coach are all said to be in good mental and physical health, health officials say that additional psychological monitoring will be provided to detect lingering trauma.
The daring Thai-led international effort to rescue the “Wild Boars” captivated the world after they walked into the cave on June 23 and were trapped by rising floodwaters.
After nine days without a steady supply of food or water they were found emaciated and huddled in a group on a muddy ledge by British divers several kilometers inside Tham Luang.
Rescuers debated on the best plan to bring them out but ultimately decided on a risky operation that involved diving them through waterlogged passages while they were sedated to keep them calm and carrying them out in military-grade stretchers.
Not even the foreign cave diving specialists who took part were sure the mission would work and many expressed relief when it was all over after the final five were rescued on July 10.