Kashmir border violence kills nine

A demonstrator hurls a stone amidst smoke from tear gas fired by Indian policemen during a protest in Kashmir, in Srinagar, January 13, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 15 January 2018
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Kashmir border violence kills nine

SRINAGAR, India: At least nine people including four Pakistani soldiers were killed in fighting in disputed Kashmir on Monday, India and Pakistan said.
The Pakistani army said four of its soldiers and three Indian troops had been killed in an exchange of fire across the heavily militarised de-facto border known as the Line of Control (LoC).
India denied it suffered any casualties, but said its soldiers had killed five “militants” who attempted to cross the LoC in a separate incident in Uri, 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of the main city of Srinagar.
India frequently accuses Pakistan of sending fighters across the LoC to launch attacks on its soldiers in Kashmir, which has been divided between the two nuclear-armed neighbors since partition in 1947.
“During the night a group of infiltrating militants were challenged by the army, triggering a fierce exchange of fire in which five militants were killed,” superintendent of Indian police Imtiyaz Hussain told AFP.
Hussain said the militants appeared to be from Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), a Pakistan-based militant group that police say has recently stepped up its activities in the volatile territory.
It has been blamed for a series of audacious attacks inside Indian-administered Kashmir in recent weeks including one on New Year’s Eve in which four paramilitary troops were killed.
The latest violence comes in the wake of the deadliest year in a decade in Indian Kashmir, where the army killed at least 200 militants, decimating the rebel leadership.
Scores of civilians were also killed in last year’s violence.
India has about 500,000 troops in the Himalayan territory, which is claimed in full by both India and Pakistan.
On Monday India’s army chief Bipin Rawat warned the force would react strongly to any aggression from Pakistan.
“Pakistan Army has been continuously trying to help terrorists sneak into India along LoC,” he told soldiers in a speech.
“We are using our might to teach them a lesson.”
Islamabad denies allegations that it arms and trains militants to launch attacks on Indian forces, saying it only provides diplomatic support to the Kashmiri struggle for right to self-determination.
Opposition to Indian rule intensified in the mainly Muslim territory in 2016 after the slaying of popular rebel leader Burhan Wani.
More than 100 civilians died in clashes with government forces that year during months of protests against India.


Nigeria’s president and main rival confident as polls close

Voters gather to vote in Maiduguri on February 23, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 5 min 27 sec ago
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Nigeria’s president and main rival confident as polls close

  • Suspected militants attacked Geidam town in northeastern Yobe state on Saturday forcing people to flee

ABUJA/MAIDUGURI, Nigeria: Nigeria began counting votes in Saturday’s closely-fought presidential election although the electoral commission extended voting in some places where polling stations opened late or ballot machines malfunctioned.
President Muhammadu Buhari and his main challenger, businessman Atiku Abubakar, both said they were confident of victory when casting their ballots in an election which was already delayed by a week due to logistical problems.
The vote in Africa’s biggest economic power is too close to call, with the outcome hinging on which man voters trust most to revamp an economy still struggling from a 2016 recession.
Buhari, a former military ruler who is seeking a second elected term faces Atiku, a former vice president who has pledged to expand the role of the private sector in Africa’s most populous nation and top oil producer.
They lead a field of more than 70 candidates in an election which was postponed last Saturday just hours before it was due to begin.
On Saturday, voting had been completed in some areas and the counting of ballots was taking place, Reuters witnesses said.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission is generally satisfied with the process and the procedures for the conduct of these present elections,” INEC official Festus Okoye told reporters in the capital, Abuja.
But he said there had been challenges related to the delayed start of voting in some polling stations and INEC had extended hours in the places affected.
Voting officially began at 8 a.m. (0700 GMT) and was due to close at 2 p.m. Okoye said 68 percent of polling units had opened by 10 a.m.
Okoye said INEC was investigating reports of attempts to steal electoral material in Lagos state and the southeastern state of Anambra, as well as violence in the oil-rich southern state of Rivers.
Problems related to malfunctioning voter card machines were mostly resolved, he added.

TERRORIST ATTACK
In the northeast, where radical insurgents have waged a decade-long war, blasts were heard in Maiduguri, state capital of Borno state, shortly before polls were due to open. In neighboring Yobe state, residents in the town of Geidam fled an attack around the same time.
A group called Daesh West Africa Province, an off-shoot of Boko Haram, claimed it had carried out an attack in Maiduguri. Boko Haram had warned people not to vote.
Army spokesman Col. Sagir Musa earlier said there had not been any attack on Maiduguri, but there had been an exercise by the military. He called the Geidam attack “futile” and said there were no casualties.
Buhari, who voted in his hometown of Daura in the northern state of Katsina, said: “I will congratulate myself, I’m going to be the winner,” when asked by reporters if he would congratulate his rival, should Atiku win.
Atiku cast his ballot in the eastern Adamawa state.
“I am impressed by the turnout of the people,” he told reporters.
“I look forward to a successful transition.”

DELAYS
Some of the country’s 72.8 million eligible voters were frustrated by delays.
Kingsley Moghalu, a presidential candidate for the Young Progressives Party, said he had only managed to vote at noon in the southeastern state of Anambra. He said polls opened two hours late and machines were not working.
“If as a presidential candidate my polling unit can be treated in this manner, I can imagine what a lot of Nigerians are going through in many parts of the country,” he said.
Other voters echoed his concerns.
“I’ve been to 10 polling units today. I’ve been redirected many times,” said Victor Kanoba, a voter in Lagos.
John Tomaszewski, an observer with the joint US National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute delegation, said delays had been expected given the challenge of getting materials to the polling stations in time.
“Logistics weren’t properly managed despite the postponement of the polls,” said Idayat Hassan, director of Abuja-based think-tank Center for Democracy and Development.
However, in Lagos’ business district Victoria Island, Reginald Anthony, 45, who runs a transport business, said: “We are seeing a transparent election, everything is open for everyone to see.”
After voting in the northern Kano state, Hadisa Hayatu, a 38-year old housewife, said: “I voted for Buhari because he has assured us that he is going to build on what he has done on security and other issues.”
An Atiku supporter in Kano, stylist Laurie Isaac, 27, said: “We need change. I need more work. I need my salary to increase.”