287 students abducted by gunmen in the latest school attack in Nigeria, headteacher says

Update 287 students abducted by gunmen in the latest school attack in Nigeria, headteacher says
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People gather around an area were gunmen kidnapped school children in Chikun, Nigeria, on March 7, 2024. (AP Photo)
Update 287 students abducted by gunmen in the latest school attack in Nigeria, headteacher says
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Nigerian army trucks are park in an area were gunmen kidnapped school children in Chikun, Nigeria, on March 7, 2024. (AP Photo)
Update 287 students abducted by gunmen in the latest school attack in Nigeria, headteacher says
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People gather around an area were gunmen kidnapped school children in Chikun, Nigeria, on March 7, 2024. (AP Photo)
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Updated 08 March 2024
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287 students abducted by gunmen in the latest school attack in Nigeria, headteacher says

287 students abducted by gunmen in the latest school attack in Nigeria, headteacher says
  • The attack occurred days after more than 200 people were abducted by extremists in the northeastern state of Borno
  • Abductions of students from schools in northern Nigeria are common and have become a source of concern since 2014

ABUJA, Nigeria: Gunmen attacked a school in Nigeria’s northwest region Thursday and abducted at least 287 students, the headteacher told authorities, marking the second mass abduction in the West African nation in less than a week.
Abductions of students from schools in northern Nigeria are common and have become a source of concern since 2014 when Islamic extremists kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls in Borno state’s Chibok village. In recent years, the abductions have been concentrated in northwestern and central regions, where dozens of armed groups often target villagers and travelers for huge ransoms.
Locals told The Associated Press the assailants on Thursday surrounded the government-owned school in Kaduna State’s Kuriga town just as the pupils and students were about to start the school day at around 8 a.m.
Authorities had said earlier that more than 100 students were taken hostage in the attack. Sani Abdullahi, the headteacher, however, told Kaduna Gov. Uba Sani when he visited the town that the total number of those missing after a headcount was 287.
“We will ensure that every child will come back. We are working with the security agencies,” the governor told villagers in the area located 55 miles (89 kilometers) from the capital.No group claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack though blame fell on armed groups that mostly constitute herders who have been accused of carrying out violent attacks and kidnappings for ransom following decades-long pastoral conflict with host communities.
Security forces arrived with the governor several hours later as a search operation widened, while community members and parents gathered to wait for news.

The attack occurred days after more than 200 people, mostly women and children, were abducted by extremists in northeastern Nigeria.

Anti-militant militia leaders have blamed Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) for last week’s attack in Borno state, the heart of a militant insurgency which has left more than 40,000 people dead and two million displaced since 2009.

Several details about the attack in rural Ngala are still unclear and officials have given conflicting accounts. The number of people reported missing does not necessarily reflect the number held in captivity.

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the attack took place on Thursday last week and estimated over 200 people from camps for displaced people had been abducted.

It said armed attackers took the women while they were out collecting firewood.

“The United Nations strongly condemns the reported abduction of internally displaced persons (IDPs), many of them women, boys and girls,” it said.

OCHA said the figure came from initial estimates from community leaders, and said headcounts were being carried out in four displacement camps to verify the number.

It said the camps house almost 104,000 people, mostly women and children.

Anti-militant militia leader Shehu Mada had said that women from displacement camps were “rounded up by ISWAP insurgents” on Friday.

“Some of the women were able to escape and returned,” said Mada, who helped conduct a headcount which found “47 women from the wood-collecting mission could not be accounted for.”

Usman Hamza, another anti-militant militia leader, confirmed the account.

Kidnapping is a major problem across Nigeria, which is also grappling with criminal militias in the northwest and a flareup of intercommunal violence in central states.

Women, children and students are often targeted in the mass abductions in the conflict-hit northern region and many victims are released only after paying huge ransoms.

Last month kidnappers seized at least 35 women returning from a wedding in northwestern Katsina state.

Observers say both attacks are a reminder of Nigeria’s worsening security crisis which resulted in the deaths of several hundred people in 2023, according to an AP analysis.

Bola Tinubu was elected president of Nigeria last year after promising to end the violence. But there has been “no tangible improvement in security situation yet” under Tinubu, said Oluwole Ojewale, West and Central Africa researcher with the Africa-focused Institute for Security Studies.


Orban to EU leaders: Trump ready to act ‘immediately’ as Russia-Ukraine peace broker

Orban to EU leaders: Trump ready to act ‘immediately’ as Russia-Ukraine peace broker
Updated 6 sec ago
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Orban to EU leaders: Trump ready to act ‘immediately’ as Russia-Ukraine peace broker

Orban to EU leaders: Trump ready to act ‘immediately’ as Russia-Ukraine peace broker
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is ready to act “immediately” as a peace broker in the Russia-Ukraine war if he is elected in November, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said in a letter to EU leaders.
The letter, addressed to European Council President Charles Michel and shared with all EU leaders, was drafted after Orban held talks with Trump as well as with the leaders of Ukraine, Russia and China.
“I can (...) surely state that shortly after his election victory, he will not wait until his inauguration, (Trump) will be ready to act as a peace broker immediately. He has detailed and well-founded plans for this,” Orban wrote.

Rwanda’s Paul Kagame wins fourth term with 99% of vote

Rwanda’s Paul Kagame wins fourth term with 99% of vote
Updated 16 July 2024
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Rwanda’s Paul Kagame wins fourth term with 99% of vote

Rwanda’s Paul Kagame wins fourth term with 99% of vote
  • Paul Kagame has ruled the small African nation with an iron fist as de facto leader then president for three decades
  • Bespectacled is credited with rebuilding a traumatized nation after the 1994 genocide – but he is also accused of ruling in a climate of fear

KIGALI: Rwandan President Paul Kagame was gearing up Tuesday for a fourth term in office after winning a thundering 99.15 percent of the vote in an election where only two challengers were allowed to run against him.
The outcome of Monday’s poll was never in doubt, with Kagame ruling the small African nation with an iron fist as de facto leader then president for three decades.
Partial results issued by the election commission seven hours after polls closed showed that Kagame had won 99.15 percent of the vote — even more than the 98.79 percent he got in the last poll seven years ago.
Democratic Green Party candidate Frank Habineza could only muster 0.53 percent and independent Philippe Mpayimana 0.32 percent, according to the results issued with 79 percent of ballots counted.
In an address from the headquarters of his ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the 66-year-old thanked Rwandans for giving him another five years in office.
“The results that have been presented indicate a very high score, these are not just figures, even if it was 100 percent, these are not just numbers,” he said.
“These figures show the trust, and that is what is most important,” he added.
“I am hopeful that together we can solve all problems.”
Full provisional results are due by July 20 and definitive results by July 27.
“In general, the electoral process happened in a safe and transparent atmosphere for Rwandans living abroad and at home,” the National Electoral Commission said in a statement.
With 65 percent of the population aged under 30, Kagame is the only leader most Rwandans have ever known.
The bespectacled 66-year-old leader is credited with rebuilding a traumatized nation after the 1994 genocide — but he is also accused of ruling in a climate of fear at home, and fomenting instability in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
Over nine million Rwandans — about two million first-time voters — were registered to cast their ballot, with the presidential race being held at the same time as legislative elections for the first time.
“(Kagame) gives us everything we ask him, such as health insurance. This is why he wins by a big margin,” said 34-year-old mechanic Francois Rwabakina.
Kagame won with more than 93 percent of the vote in 2003, 2010 and in 2017, when he again easily defeated the same two challengers.
He has overseen controversial constitutional amendments that shortened presidential terms from seven to five years and reset the clock for the Rwandan leader, allowing him to potentially rule until 2034.
Rwandan courts had rejected appeals from prominent opposition figures Bernard Ntaganda and Victoire Ingabire to remove previous convictions that effectively disqualified them from Monday’s vote.
The election commission also barred high-profile Kagame critic Diane Rwigara, citing issues with her paperwork — the second time she was excluded from running.
Ahead of the vote, Amnesty International said Rwanda’s political opposition faced “severe restrictions... as well as threats, arbitrary detention, prosecution, trumped-up charges, killings and enforced disappearances.”
The imbalance between the candidates was evident during the three-week campaign, as the well-oiled PR machine of the ruling RPF swung into high gear.
The party’s red, white and blue colors and its slogans “Tora Kagame Paul” (“Vote Paul Kagame“) and “PK24” (“Paul Kagame 2024“) were everywhere.
His rivals struggled to make their voices heard, with barely 100 people showing up to some events.
Kagame’s RPF militia is lauded for ending the 1994 genocide when it marched on Kigali — ousting the Hutu extremists who had unleashed 100 days of bloodletting targeting the Tutsi minority.
The perpetrators killed around 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis but also Hutu moderates.
Kagame has overseen a remarkable economic recovery, with GDP growing by an average of 7.2 percent per year between 2012 and 2022, although the World Bank says almost half the population lives on less than $2.15 a day.
But abroad, Kigali is accused of meddling in the troubled eastern DRC, where a UN report says its troops are fighting alongside M23 rebels.
In the parliamentary election, 589 candidates were chasing 80 seats, including 53 elected by universal suffrage.
In the outgoing assembly, the RPF held 40 seats and its allies 11, while Habineza’s party had two.
Another 27 spots are reserved for women, the youth and people with disabilities.


200 more Kenyan police deploy to tackle Haiti violence

200 more Kenyan police deploy to tackle Haiti violence
Updated 16 July 2024
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200 more Kenyan police deploy to tackle Haiti violence

200 more Kenyan police deploy to tackle Haiti violence
  • Deployment comes after the East African nation sent some 400 officers to the violence-ravaged Haitian capital Port-au-Prince in June
  • Deployment was approved by a UN Security Council resolution in October, only to be delayed by a Kenyan court decision in January that ruled it unconstitutional

NAIROBI: Another 200 Kenyan police officers have left for Haiti under a UN-backed mission to try to quell rampant gang violence in the troubled Caribbean nation, senior police officers said Tuesday.
The deployment comes after the East African nation sent some 400 officers to the violence-ravaged Haitian capital Port-au-Prince in June, part of a controversial offer to send some 1,000 police to help stabilize the country.
The promise — made by embattled President William Ruto, who is trying to calm roiling anti-government protests at home — has run into persistent legal challenges in Kenya.
“We have 200 police officers who left last night, they should land in their destination of Haiti this morning,” one senior police officer said on Tuesday. “They are joining their colleagues who are already on the ground.”
Another senior police source confirmed that the officers had left on Monday night, traveling by chartered plane, adding: “More will be departing soon until we have all the 1,000.”
The East African nation is leading a force expected to number a total of some 2,500 personnel.
Other countries, mostly in Africa and the Caribbean, are also contributing to the mission, which is blessed but not managed by the United Nations.
On July 1, Kenya’s National Police Service issued a statement to scotch rumors that seven officers had been killed in Haiti.
The forces deployed had been “received warmly,” and were “all safe and ready to discharge their clear and specific mandate,” it said.
They were “working closely with their host, the Haitian National Police, and have so far undertaken strategic mapping of the likely areas of operational concerns and conducted several joint patrols within Port-au-Prince.”
The deployment was approved by a UN Security Council resolution in October, only to be delayed by a Kenyan court decision in January that ruled it unconstitutional.
The court said Ruto’s administration had no authority to send officers abroad without a prior bilateral agreement.
While the government secured that agreement with Haiti in March, a small opposition party, Thirdway Alliance Kenya, has filed a fresh lawsuit in another attempt to block it.
The United States had been eagerly seeking a country to lead the mission and is supplying funding and logistical support.
But President Joe Biden flatly ruled out US boots on the ground in Haiti — the poorest nation in the Americas, where Washington has a history of intervention.
Human Rights Watch has raised concerns about the Haiti mission and doubts over its funding, while watchdogs have repeatedly accused Kenyan police of using excessive force and carrying out unlawful killings.
Haiti has long been rocked by gang violence, but conditions sharply worsened at the end of February when armed groups launched coordinated attacks in Port-au-Prince, saying they wanted to overthrow then-prime minister Ariel Henry.
The violence in Port-au-Prince has affected food security and humanitarian aid access, with much of the city in the hands of gangs accused of abuses including murder, rape, looting and kidnappings.


4 Indian soldiers are killed in a gunfight with suspected rebels in disputed Kashmir

4 Indian soldiers are killed in a gunfight with suspected rebels in disputed Kashmir
Updated 16 July 2024
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4 Indian soldiers are killed in a gunfight with suspected rebels in disputed Kashmir

4 Indian soldiers are killed in a gunfight with suspected rebels in disputed Kashmir

NEW DELHI: Four Indian soldiers were killed in a gunfight with suspected rebels fighting against Indian rule in the disputed region of Kashmir, the Indian military said Tuesday.
The soldiers were killed late Monday when they were fired at by militants hiding in the forests of southern Doda district in Jammu division, the Indian military said in a statement on the X social media platform. Government forces had been conducting a search based on intelligence input when the shooting occurred.
No insurgent group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attack was the latest in a flurry of violence in the region. Last week, five soldiers were killed in the nearby Kathua district when suspected rebels ambushed an army vehicle. In June, nine people were killed when suspected militants fired at a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims.
Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for Indian-controlled Kashmir’s independence or merger with neighboring Pakistan. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel goal of uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
New Delhi insists the Kashmir militancy is Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Pakistan denies the charge, and most Kashmiris consider it a legitimate freedom struggle.
Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict.
Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the territory in its entirety.


Indian troops battle gunmen in Kashmir, several wounded

Indian troops battle gunmen in Kashmir, several wounded
Updated 16 July 2024
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Indian troops battle gunmen in Kashmir, several wounded

Indian troops battle gunmen in Kashmir, several wounded
  • The army has given no details of casualties and there was no official confirmation of deaths
  • Indian media widely reported five soldiers had been “critically” wounded, PTI news agency says four dead

New Delhi: Troops in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir hunted Tuesday for militants after several soldiers were critically wounded in ferocious gunbattles, with Indian media reporting four had died.

Muslim-majority Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence from British rule in 1947, and the disputed northern territory has suffered an uptick in attacks in the past two months

The Indian army’s 16 Corps said security forces had launched an operation Monday evening in Doda district.

“Contact with terrorists was established...(a) heavy firefight ensued,” it said in a statement. “Initial reports suggest injuries to our bravehearts.”

The army gave no further details of casualties, and there was no official confirmation of deaths.

But Indian media widely reported five soldiers had been “critically” wounded, and the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported on Tuesday that four later died of their wounds.

The army said “additional troops” had been brought in.

“Operations are continuing,” it added.

The clashes come a day after the Indian army killed three suspected militants in Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Sunday.

India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir in full and have fought multiple conflicts for control of the Himalayan region.

New Delhi and Islamabad accuse each other of stoking militancy and espionage to undermine each other.

Rebel groups have waged an insurgency since 1989, demanding independence for the territory or its merger with Pakistan.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers, and rebels.

Earlier this month, gunmen killed five soldiers after ambushing an army convoy, and two other soldiers and six suspected militants were killed in separate clashes.

In June, nine Indian Hindu pilgrims were killed and dozens wounded when a gunman opened fire on a bus carrying them from a shrine in the southern Reasi area.

It was one of the deadliest attacks in years and the first on Hindu pilgrims in Kashmir since 2017 when gunmen killed seven people in another ambush on a bus.