45 dead in attack by armed bandits in northern Nigeria: civilian militia

45 dead in attack by armed bandits in northern Nigeria: civilian militia
Military and police are overstretched in Nigeria, which, along with fighting Boko Haram militants in the north, is battling militants and pirates in the oil-rich south. (AFP)
Updated 06 May 2018

45 dead in attack by armed bandits in northern Nigeria: civilian militia

45 dead in attack by armed bandits in northern Nigeria: civilian militia

KANO, Nigeria: 45 people died in an attack by armed bandits in northern Nigeria, civilian militia members said on Sunday, amid growing levels of rural violence often involving cattle theft, robbery and kidnappings for ransom.
“The 45 bodies were found scattered in the bush. The bandits pursued residents who mobilized to defend the village after overpowering them,” said a vigilante who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.
“The dead included children abandoned by their parents during the attack.
“The attackers were obviously armed bandits from neighboring Zamfara state who have been terrorizing Birnin Gwari area...,” he added.
The vigilante said the bandits struck Gwaska village in Kaduna state at about 2:30pm (1330 GMT) Saturday and stayed for three hours before retreating to their base in the forest in Zamfara.
“They burnt down many homes,” he said.
A spokesman for the Kaduna state police, Mukhtar Aliyu, confirmed the attack by “armed bandits” but said they were unable to give further details.
The killings follow the death of at least 25 people in separate attacks in northern Nigeria last week.
Thirteen people were killed in prolonged clashes between cattle thieves and local civilian militia in Zamfara.
In Adamawa, in the northeast, meanwhile, at least 12 people were killed in an attack on several villages.
The attacks underlined the diversity of Nigeria’s security threats that persist in the absence of a robust police force and efficient judicial system.
Nigeria is in the grip of a security crisis as nomadic herders and sedentary farmers fight over land in an increasingly bloody battle for resources.
Rural communities in Zamfara have been under siege for several years from cattle rustlers and kidnapping gangs, who have raided herding communities, killing, looting and burning homes.
To defend themselves, villages and herdsmen form vigilante groups, but they too are often accused of extra-judicial killings, provoking a bloody cycle of retaliatory attacks.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been criticized for failing to curb the violence, which is becoming a key election issue ahead of the upcoming presidential polls in 2018.
Military and police are overstretched in Nigeria, which, along with fighting Boko Haram militants in the north, is battling militants and pirates in the oil-rich south, a simmering separatist movement in the east and a bloody battle between herdsmen and farmers spanning the vast central region.


Iran deal architect among veterans named for Biden State Department

Iran deal architect among veterans named for Biden State Department
Updated 16 January 2021

Iran deal architect among veterans named for Biden State Department

Iran deal architect among veterans named for Biden State Department

WASHINGTON: The lead US negotiator of the Iran nuclear accord and a battle-tested hawk on Russia were named Saturday to top posts at President-elect Joe Biden’s State Department, signaling a return to normal after Donald Trump’s chaotic presidency.
Wendy Sherman, who brokered the Iran accord under Barack Obama and negotiated a nuclear deal with North Korea under Bill Clinton, was named as deputy secretary of state.
Victoria Nuland, a former career diplomat best known for her robust support for Ukrainian protesters in the ouster of a Russian-aligned president, was nominated under secretary for political affairs — the State Department’s third-ranking post in charge of day-to-day US diplomacy.
Biden said that the State Department nominees “have secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory.”
“I am confident that they will use their diplomatic experience and skill to restore America’s global and moral leadership. America is back,” Biden said in a statement.
The State Department team will work under secretary of state-designate Antony Blinken, whose confirmation hearing will take place on Tuesday on the eve of Biden’s inauguration.
Blinken said that the State Department team, with women and ethnic minorities in prominent positions, “looks like America.”
“America at its best still has a greater capacity than any other country on earth to mobilize others to meet the challenges of our time,” Blinken said.
The optimism comes amid rising doubts about US leadership in Trump’s waning days after his supporters ransacked the Capitol on January 6 to try to stop the ceremonial certification of Biden’s victory.
Under outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a staunch defender of Trump, the United States has aggressively challenged Iran and China, robustly backed Israel and toyed with improving ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, while also imposing sanctions on Moscow.
Sherman’s nomination marks another clear sign that Biden wants to return to the accord under which Iran drastically slashed its nuclear program in exchange for promises of sanctions relief.
Trump exited the deal in 2018 and imposed sweeping sanctions in what many observers saw as an unsuccessful attempt to topple the Shiite clerical regime.