Suicide bomber kills at least 50 in Nigeria mosque

Boko Haram militants exhibit their weapons in this screengrab taken on July 13, 2014 from a video released by the Nigerian extremist group. (AFP file photo)
Updated 22 November 2017
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Suicide bomber kills at least 50 in Nigeria mosque

KANO, Nigeria: At least 50 people were killed on Tuesday when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque in northeast Nigeria, police said, in an attack blamed on Boko Haram militants.
The blast happened during early morning prayers at the Madina mosque in the Unguwar Shuwa area of Mubi, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) by road from the Adamawa state capital Yola.
It was the biggest attack in Adamawa since December 2016, when two female suicide bombers killed 45 people at a crowded market in the town of Madagali.
Security analysts said Tuesday’s bombing again underlined the threat posed by Boko Haram, despite an overall decline in deaths from attacks by the group last year.
Adamawa state police spokesman Othman Abubakar told AFP that at least 50 were killed in the Mubi attack.
“It was a (suicide) bomber who mingled with worshippers. He entered the mosque along with other worshippers for the morning prayers.
“It was when the prayers were on that he set off his explosives.”
Asked who was responsible, Abubakar said: “We all know the trend. We don’t suspect anyone specifically but we know those behind such kind of attacks.”
The attack bore all the hallmarks of Boko Haram, the militants whose insurgency has left at least 20,000 people dead and more than 2.6 million others homeless since 2009.
Haruna Furo, head of the Adamawa state emergency management agency, and Musa Hamad Bello, chairman of the Mubi north local government area, both confirmed the attack.
They gave lower death tolls but both said the number killed was likely to rise.


Another emergency services official described the blast as “devastating” and said there were “high casualties.”
Abubakar Sule, who lives near the mosque, said he was present during the rescue operation and that 40 people died on the spot while several others were taken to hospital with severe and life-threatening injuries.
“The roof was blown off. People near the mosque said the prayer was mid-way when the bomber, who was obviously in the congregation, detonated his explosives.
“This is obviously the work of Boko Haram.”
Yan St-Pierre, a counter-terrorism specialist at the Modern Security Consulting Group in Berlin, said the bombing fitted a pattern of previous attacks.
“It fits with the increasing lethality and potency of suicide attacks of the organization’s current ‘hot streak’, which started approximately four weeks ago,” he said.
The latest Global Terrorism Index, published last week, said that deaths attributed to Boko Haram in 2016 fell by 80 percent.
But St-Pierre said despite this “Boko Haram remains an extremely potent and dangerous organization” which was far from being “on the back foot,” as the military has claimed.
In October 2012, at least 40 people were killed in an attack on student housing in Mubi that was widely blamed on Boko Haram.
In June 2014, at least 40 football supporters, including women and children, died in a bomb attack after a match in the Kabang area of the town.
Boko Haram briefly overran Mubi in late 2014 as its fighters rampaged across northeastern Nigeria, seizing towns and villages in its quest to establish a hard-line Islamic state.
The town’s name was changed temporarily to Madinatul Islam, or “City of Islam” in Arabic, during the Boko Haram occupation.
But it has been peaceful since the military and the civilian militia ousted them from the town, which is a commercial hub and home to the Adamawa State University.
Yet in recent months, Boko Haram activity has been concentrated around Madagali, in the far north of Adamawa near the border with neighboring Borno state.
There have been repeated raids and suicide bombings, blamed on Boko Haram remnants pushed out of their camps in the Sambisa Forest area of Borno.
Boko Haram fighters are also said to be hiding in the Mandara mountains, which forms the border of Adamawa and Nigeria with neighboring Cameroon, where there has also been more attacks.
Ryan Cummings, from security analysts Signal Risk, said the attack suggests Boko Haram “has an active operational presence in Adamawa” and retained the capacity to hit hard.
“It appears that despite open calls for Boko Haram to desist in such acts of mass violence against Muslim civilian interests, that these have not been heeded,” he added.


Death toll from anti-Vedanta protests in south India rises to 13

Updated 24 May 2018
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Death toll from anti-Vedanta protests in south India rises to 13

TUTICORIN, India: A protester shot during demonstrations against a copper plant in southern India died of his injuries Thursday, officials said, the 13th victim killed by police fire.
A curfew remained in pockets of Tuticorin city in Tamil Nadu state where police used live ammunition to disperse protesters this week, provoking international outrage and demands for an immediate investigation.
Calls for the copper smelting plant owned by British mining giant Vedanta Resources to be closed had been building in recent months, with residents complaining it was polluting their city.
The resistance came to a head Tuesday when police stopped a crowd of thousands from protesting outside the factory.
Cars and buildings were set ablaze and rocks hurled at police, who responded with live fire. Eleven demonstrators were shot dead and many people injured in the melee, including 20 police.
Another protester died Wednesday when he was struck by rubber bullets in a second day of protests.
The latest victim died in hospital Thursday, two days after being injured, doctors said.
“He was brought in a critical condition with bullet injuries and died today,” a doctor at the local hospital said.
The chief minister of Tamil Nadu has ordered an inquiry but defended the actions of police, which the state’s opposition leader called “mass murder.”
“The police have a duty during protests to maintain law and order, but lethal force can only be used if there is an imminent threat to life,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.
“Tamil Nadu authorities need to carry out a prompt and credible investigation to determine if police used excessive force.”
Internet services have been blocked across the city for five days. Police justified the blackout to stop the spread of information that could incite further violence as they search for those behind Tuesday’s arson attacks.
Environmentalists and locals say the factory contaminates water and air, claims its owners deny.
The company has sought to renew the license of the temporarily non-operational plant and hopes to double its production capacity.
But a state court Wednesday ordered that it cease any further construction at the new site.
The ruling came just hours after Tamil Nadu’s pollution board ordered the existing plant be shut and its power supply cut until a verdict is made on its licensing application.