Pakistani politician arrested in London amid probe of speeches

Founder of Pakistan's MQM party, Altaf Hussain, reacts during an interview at the party's offices in London. (Reuters/File)
Updated 11 June 2019
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Pakistani politician arrested in London amid probe of speeches

  • When security forces cracked down on the party in the 1990s, Hussain sought asylum in the United Kingdom

LAHORE: British police arrested Pakistani politician Altaf Hussain in London on Tuesday as part of an investigation into speeches he gave as founder of a political party that ruled the megacity of Karachi for decades, media in Pakistan reported.
London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement a man in his sixties had been arrested after a joint investigation with Pakistani authorities.
It did not identify the person but said the arrest was "in connection with an investigation into a number of speeches made by an individual associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Pakistan".
Hussain's representatives could not be reached for comment.
MQM has dominated the sweltering metropolis of Karachi, Pakistan's largest and wealthiest city, since the 1980s. When security forces cracked down on the party in the 1990s, Hussain sought asylum in the United Kingdom.
Even from exile in London, Hussain controlled the city through a powerful network. Karachi police and his opponents have accused him of exhorting his supporters to violence, charges he has denied.
Prime Minister Imran Khan came to power last year vowing to attack rampant political corruption in Pakistan and there have been a string of high profile cases.
Opposition parties say the government is using corruption as a pretext to silence its opponents while it also cracks down on groups such the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), an ethnic Pashtun rights group.
Hussain's arrest in London followed other detentions of opposition politicians in Pakistan.
On Monday, former president Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on corruption charges.
Zardari spent 11 years in jail on corruption and murder charges before becoming president in 2008. But he was never convicted and denies wrongdoing.
Zardari could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, but the PPP said the cases are politically motivated.
On Tuesday, Hamza Shahbaz, nephew of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was taken into custody on charges of money laundering and possessing assets beyond his means. He later told reporters he was not guilty.
Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party said the arrest was politically motivated and part of a campaign to target opposition parties.


Nigeria death toll rises in Boko Haram triple suicide bombing

Updated 8 min 6 sec ago
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Nigeria death toll rises in Boko Haram triple suicide bombing

  • Three bombers detonated their explosives outside a hall in Konduga

Thirty people were killed late Sunday in a triple suicide bombing in northeast Nigeria, emergency services reported, in an attack bearing the hallmarks of the Boko Haram militant group.

Three bombers detonated their explosives outside a hall in Konduga, 38 kilometers from the Borno state capital Maiduguri, where football fans were watching a match on TV.

“The death toll from the attack has so far increased to 30. We have over 40 people injured,” Usman Kachalla, head of operations at the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), said on Monday.

An earlier toll from the blasts, the bloodiest in months, gave 17 dead and 17 wounded.

The attack happened around 9:00 P.M., Ali Hassan, the leader of a self-defense group in the town, said.

The owner of hall prevented one of the bombers from entering the packed venue.

“There was a heated argument between the operator and the bomber who blew himself up,” Hassan said by phone.

Two other bombers who had mingled among the crowd at a tea stall nearby also detonated their suicide vests.

Hassan said most of the victims were from outside the soccer viewing center.

“Nine people died on the spot, including the operator, and 48 were injured,” Hassan said.

Kachala said the high number of fatalities was because emergency responders had been unable to reach the site of the blast quickly.

Nor were they equipped to deal with large numbers of wounded.

“Lack of an appropriate health facility to handle such huge emergency situation and the delay in obtaining security clearance to enable us deploy from Maiduguri in good time led to the high death toll,” he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack bore the imprint of Boko Haram, which has led a decade-long campaign to establish a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria.

The last suicide attack was in April this year when two female suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the garrison town of Monguno, killing a soldier and a vigilante and injuring another soldier.

Konduga has been repeatedly targeted by suicide bombers from a Boko Haram faction loyal to longtime leader Abubakar Shekau.

The faction typically carries out suicide attacks against soft civilian targets such as mosques, markets and bus stations, often using young women and girls as bombers.

The militants are believed to sneak into the town from the group’s haven in nearby Sambisa forest.

Eight worshippers were killed when a suicide bomber attacked a mosque in the town last July.

Boko Haram insurgency has claimed 27,000 lives and forced some two million to flee their homes.

The violence has spilled into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting the formation of a regional military coalition to battle the insurgents.