18 Daesh fighters killed in joint operation with US in Niger

Nigerien soldiers in Diffa city. Niger is one of a number of poor, fragile countries in the Sahel region that have been hit by an extremist revolt. (Reuters)
Updated 20 June 2019

18 Daesh fighters killed in joint operation with US in Niger

  • The June 8-18 operation took place in the northern border region of Tongo Tongo targeting a gang of Daesh terrorists implicated in an ambush on May 14, in which 28 Nigerien soldiers were killed
  • In October 2017, Daesh claimed responsibility for a raid which killed four US soldiers and five Nigerien troops in the same region

NIAMEY: Eighteen members of Daesh in the Greater Sahara were killed in a joint operation by US, French and Niger troops near Niger’s border with Mali, the defense ministry said Tuesday.
The June 8-18 operation took place in the northern border region of Tongo Tongo “targeting a gang of Daesh terrorists implicated in an ambush on May 14,” in which 28 Nigerien soldiers were killed, it said.
“The toll on the enemy side is: 18 terrorists neutralized, five terrorists, of whom three are Nigerien, taken prisoner.”
There were “no human or material losses” during the operation, which was codenamed ACONIT, it said.
“Important materiel was recovered including equipment belonging to the Niger armed forces which were taken by the attackers after the ambush,” the statement said.
In October 2017, Daesh claimed responsibility for a raid which killed four US soldiers and five Nigerien troops in the same region, a mere 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Malian border.
That ambush claimed the largest number of American lives in combat anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa since the “Black Hawk Down” incident in Somalia in 1993
On June 8, a US army vehicle hit a land mine near the town of Ouallam, about 100 kilometers north of the capital Niamey, but there were no casualties.
The area is near a major training camp where Nigerien soldiers are trained to serve in a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.
Late Tuesday, gunmen attacked a police station on the northern edge of the Niger capital Niamey, killing two policemen.
Niger is one of a number of poor, fragile countries in the Sahel region that have been hit by an extremist revolt.
The United States has a big base for drones in the northern city of Agadez and Niger recently gave the Americans permission to arm their drones.
The French also have a military base near Niamey airport and another at Madama in the north.
Various insurgent groups operate in the country’s west and north, and Nigeria’s Boko Haram is present in its southeast.
The country is part of the so-called G5 Sahel group set up to manage a coordinated response to the extremist insurgency.


Bollywood superstar Padukone summoned by police in drugs probe

Updated 23 September 2020

Bollywood superstar Padukone summoned by police in drugs probe

  • The 34-year-old’s suicide initially triggered a debate over mental health in the multi-billion-dollar industry
  • But his family disputed reports that he suffered from depression and accused Chakraborty of stealing his money

MUMBAI: Bollywood superstar Deepika Padukone has been summoned for questioning as part of an escalating drugs probe into the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, Indian police said late Wednesday.
The investigation has already seen actress Rhea Chakraborty arrested for allegedly buying drugs for her former boyfriend Rajput, who was found dead in June in his Mumbai apartment — with police saying he took his own life.
A star with many hit movies to his name, the 34-year-old’s suicide initially triggered a debate over mental health in the multi-billion-dollar industry.
But his family disputed reports that he suffered from depression and accused Chakraborty, 28, of stealing his money and harassing him. She has strongly denied the allegations.
Rajput’s death has sparked a media storm in India, where calls have mounted for a wider probe into Bollywood’s so-called “drugs mafia,” with television channels speculating that Chakraborty supposedly drove Rajput to suicide by purchasing cannabis for him.
India’s top anti-crime agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, has been probing his death since last month. The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) was looking into his consumption of cannabis.
Earlier this week, TV channel TimesNow broadcast sections of a WhatsApp conversation about procuring hash, alleging that the two people chatting were Padukone and her manager.
K.P.S. Malhotra, deputy director of the NCB, told AFP the agency had summoned Padukone as well as actresses Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh for questioning.
The police have already detained others in connection with the case including Chakraborty’s brother and a member of Rajput’s house staff.
The investigation has grabbed headlines for months, and some celebrities including actresses Vidya Balan and Sonam Kapoor have accused TV channels of carrying out a “witch hunt” against Chakraborty.
Born in the eastern state of Bihar, Rajput quit his engineering studies to pursue a career in acting.
He got his big break in 2013 with “Kai Po Che,” a film about cricket, love, and politics that won acclaim at the Berlin film festival.
He was also lauded for his portrayal of Indian cricket hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni in a hit 2016 biopic.
In an interview with AFP that year, Rajput spoke of the emotional rollercoaster he experienced while filming the movie, which portrayed the heartbreak suffered by Dhoni when his girlfriend died.
“After we did the preparation, in my head I was him and everything that was happening was actually affecting me,” he said.