Suicide bombers target mobile phone companies in Nigeria

Updated 22 December 2012
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Suicide bombers target mobile phone companies in Nigeria

KANO, Nigeria: Two suicide car bombers attacked the offices of two mobile phone operators yesterday in Nigeria’s northern city of Kano, killing themselves but no civilians, police said.
India’s Airtel and South Africa’s MTN were the targets.
The militant sect Boko Haram has previously blown up telephone masts and offices of phone companies, saying they help the security forces catch its members.
“The one who hit the Airtel office was shot by military men before the bomb exploded ... at the MTN office the car rammed into the fence but no civilians were killed,” Ibrahim Idris, the chief of police in Kano, told Reuters. Both bombs went off.
A military source said one security guard was injured and has been taken to hospital.
MTN and Airtel Nigeria’s parent company Bharti Airtel, India’s top cellphone operator, gave no immediate comment.
The national emergency agency confirmed the bombings and said it was not aware of any civilian casualties. The security forces have played down the death toll in previous bombings.
At least 2,800 people have died in fighting in the largely Muslim north since Boko Haram launched an uprising against the government in 2009, watchdog Human Rights Watch says.
The sect wants to impose strict interpretation of Shariah law on a country of 160 million people split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims.
The group has previously targeted churches on Christmas Day and security has been increased in all the major northern cities, although security experts say given the scale of Christian worship in Nigeria they cannot protect everyone.
Kano, Nigeria’s second-largest city after the southern commercial hub Lagos, was the site of Boko Haram’s deadliest attack which killed at least 186 people in January in coordinated bombings and shootings.
Armed police have been guarding major churches in Kano this week and additional police checkpoints have been set up around the majority-Muslim city, a Reuters witness said.
Police in Kano said this week that their anti-terrorism squads have been searching houses and buildings they suspect to be hideouts of criminals and “terrorists.”
Security experts say they believe Boko Haram is seeking to spark a religious conflict by targeting Christians in a country where ethnic violence has flared up periodically in recent years, in some cases killing hundreds in the space of hours.
Meanwhile, four South Koreans and a Nigerian who were abducted earlier this week in the oil-producing Niger Delta have been released, police said yesterday.
The four foreign hostages were handed over to South Korean officials in the West African country late on Friday after police arrested suspects in the case.
“The victims were picked up from Azikoro village by men of the special security outfit at about 9 p.m. (2000 GMT),” Bayelsa Police Commissioner Kings Omire told Reuters.
Police spokesman Fidelis Odunna said: “They were released voluntarily because we had suspects in our custody and owing to a hit on their camp, they had to let the men go.”
Omire said another Nigerian taken had already been released, meaning all six who were abducted were now free. The two arrested suspects were being interrogated, he said.
There was no immediate comment from either the South Korean government or Hyundai Heavy Industries, the conglomerate that employs the abducted workers.


With 10-year visa, UAE could be new land of opportunity for Indians

Routine day at Dubai International Airport. AN photo
Updated 23 May 2018
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With 10-year visa, UAE could be new land of opportunity for Indians

  • The ruler of Dubai changed rules to allow foreign investors to fully own companies
  • The Indian banking sector is far more developed in terms of product, technology and the caliber of professionals

NEW DELHI: Indians are likely to “flood” the UAE once its recently announced residency visa rules for students and highly qualified professionals come into place, experts said Tuesday.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and the prime minister of the UAE, announced on Sunday a 10-year visa for investors, scientists, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as their families.
 As part of the changes, students will get five-year visas and “exceptional” graduates will be eligible for a 10-year visa.  Students currently have to apply to renew their visa each year.
The ruler of Dubai also changed rules to allow foreign investors to fully own companies. So far companies have been required to have a local partner who would hold the majority stake.
 The changes are expected to kick in during the third quarter of this year.
 “The UAE has always welcomed, and always will, innovators and business leaders,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted as he announced the new rules.
 The UAE, with its proximity to India, high salaries and low taxes, has always been a magnet for Indians. It is home to about 2.6 million Indians who make up roughly 30 percent of the country’s population, according to the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi. These numbers are expected to shoot up once the new rules apply.
 “Indians are always looking at new work opportunities anywhere in the world,” said Aradhana Mahna, managing director of Manya Education, a study abroad solutions provider in Delhi.  While the US and the UK have historically been avenues for Indian students looking to study abroad, the number of students applying to those countries have undergone a “sharp decline” since the election of US President Donald Trump — who made protectionist comments during his campaign days and since taking office — and since the UK decided to split with the European Union, Mahna said.
 “Dubai is close to home and that has always made it a preferred destination for Indians. Especially now with the US going down, it will be flooded by Indians,” she added.
Mukesh Bhasin, partner at Career Connect, an executive search firm that focuses on banking, financial services and the insurance sector (BFSI), agreed that the new rules would go a long way in attracting Indian talent.
 “The Indian banking sector is far more developed in terms of product, technology and the caliber of professionals,” he said. “The encouraging visa regime will lead to a lot of interest from Indian BFSI professionals toward Middle East opportunities given the already-existing tax benefits and international-quality lifestyle.”
 Since the collapse in 2008 of Lehman Brothers, most developed markets, including neighboring Singapore and Hong Kong, have cut back on the number of people they are hiring from abroad for their domestic operations. This includes a slowdown in foreign transfers for Indian employees of multinational banks, said Bhasin.