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Mirwa emerges speaker of Yobe 7th Assembly



Alhaji Ahmed Mirwa (APC-Nguru) on Monday emerged speaker of the 7th House of Assembly in Yobe.

The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that Mirwa was elected unopposed by the 22 lawmakers shortly after the inauguration of the assembly by the clerk, Mr Ishiaku Muhammed in Damaturu.

Malam Mohammed Bello (APC-Mamudo) was also elected as deputy speaker.

The election was conducted by Muhammed who also sworn in all members of the assembly.

In his acceptance speech, the speaker promised to be fair, honest and impartial while discharging his duties.

He assured of equal opportunities to all members irrespective of political affiliation urging them to work as a team towards moving the state forward.

“Let us put aside all our political and ethnic differences to work as a team so that our state can be fully developed,” he said.


Afghan refugee, held on Manus, commits suicide in Brisbane



An Afghan refugee, who had previously been held in an Australian offshore immigration detention centre on Manus Island for years, has committed suicide in Brisbane, refugee rights advocates said on Thursday.

Sayed Mirwais Rohani, a 32-year-old man, was  mentally distressed, and jumped to his death from the 22nd floor of a Brisbane hotel, said Ian Rintoul, a spokesman for Refugee Action Coalition.

Australia introduced in July 2013 the widely criticised policy of incarcerating asylum seekers trying to reach the country by boat in immigration camps on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

Rohani, who had been in Manus since September 2013, was brought to Brisbane in 2017 after his mental health deteriorated in the camp following several physical attacks and years of detention.

A medical doctor trained in China, he had been living in community detention for the last two years, Rintoul said, adding that he was the seventh asylum seeker from Manus Island to have died.

“The tragedy is a shocking tale of deliberate abuse and neglect,’’ Rintoul said in an emailed statement, calling the death yet more evidence of the damage that offshore detention is doing.

The activist placed part of the blame on Peter Dutton, Australia’s home affairs minister.

The minister is currently trying to overturn legislation that gives a panel of doctors the power to allow asylum seekers held on Manus and Nauru into Australia for treatment.

In August, Dutton hit out at refugee advocates, claiming that they were encouraging asylum seekers held offshore to self-harm in order to get into Australia on medical grounds. (NAN/dpa)


Edited by Halima Sheji/Maharazu Ahmed

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Prince Harry starts trip to Malawi in next leg of Africa tour





Britain’s Prince Harry is expected to arrive in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, on Sunday, where he will visit an educational project before meeting with the country’s president.

According to his itinerary, he will visit the Nalikule College of Education, where a group of young women is being financially supported while completing 12 years of schooling.

“I hope the Duke of Sussex is ready for a rousing welcome!” said Angeline Murimirwa, the Campaign for Female Education’s executive director for Africa on the organization’s website.

Harry, who’s on the seventh day of his visit to Southern Africa, will then meet with President Peter Mutharika, who in May was sworn in for a second term after a hotly contested election marred by allegations of vote rigging.

Anti-government demonstrations have been ongoing since June in the south-east African country, sparking clashes with police.

It is not known whether these issues will be discussed by the prince, who has met Mutharika on previous occasions.

On Monday, Harry will head to Liwonde National Park to pay tribute to British soldier Mathew Talbot, who was killed earlier this year while on an anti-poaching patrol.

He will conclude his visit by dedicating the park and the adjoining Mangochi Forest Reserve to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.

The three-country partnership is a Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy initiative that Harry designed in consultation with the governments of Botswana, Namibia and Angola in a bid to protect wildlife.

Harry will return to South Africa on Tuesday to reunite with his wife, Meghan Markle, and their son Archie to wrap up their 10-day tour.


Edited by Emmanuel Yashim

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Kashmir locked down as India battles protests after killings




Srinagar (India), Dec. 17, 2018 Indian authorities put separatist leaders in the disputed Kashmir region under house arrest on Monday while police sealed off roads in an effort to stifle protests against the killing of civilians over the weekend.

A senior police official who declined to be identified confirmed the house arrests.

Police and para-military forces put up barricades in various parts of Srinagar, including on roads leading to the army headquarters, and were patrolling in force.

The army, in a statement late on Sunday, warned the population against being used to make trouble.

“Army advises people not to fall prey to such designs of anti-national forces,” the army said.

“It’s an attempt to pit the civilian population against the security forces”.

Shops, government offices and banks were closed in Srinagar and a nearby district and traffic was off the roads.

Authorities have also shut down mobile internet and train services.

One soldier was killed in the Saturday violence.

Unrest has intensified over recent weeks in the Muslim-majority region at the heart of decades of hostility between India and Pakistan.

Seven civilians were killed on Saturday when security forces opened fire at a protest over the killing of three militants.

Separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said they have been put under house arrest to stop them leading the planned protest march.

Pakistan, which like India, claims Kashmir in full but rules it in part, condemned the Saturday killings.

“Only dialogue and not violence and killings will resolve this conflict,” Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said.

He also said that his country would raise India’s “human rights violations” at the United Nations.

Hindu-majority India accuses Pakistan of training and arming separatist militants operating in Kashmir.

Pakistan denies that saying it only offers political support to the people of the Muslim region who are being denied their rights by India’s security forces.

Indian forces said they have killed 242 militants this year in the region, while 101 civilians and 82 members of the security forces have been killed, making it the bloodiest year in more than a decade.

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, said Indian authorities should investigate and prosecute those responsible for “indiscriminate use of force”.

“Security forces are aware that villagers gather, protest during gunfights with Kashmir militants and have responsibility to ensure civilians are not at risk,” she said in a tweet.

A spokesman for India’s Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi said he had no comment.

Edited by: David Onilede/Ismail Abdulaziz

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Minibus bomb causes heavy casualties in southern Afghan city



A minibus packed with explosives blew up in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Tuesday causing dozens of casualties, officials said, as fighting continued across the country during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The blast, near one of the city’s main markets, sent a huge cloud of dust and smoke into the air.

Death toll in Afghan city of Kandahar rises to 16: officials

Nematullah Barak, head of Mirwais hospital in Kandahar, said six dead and more 30 wounded, including several children, had been brought in.

A statement from the National Directorate of Security intelligence service said the minibus, packed with explosives, was discovered in a large open yard of mechanics workshops but blew up before it could be defused.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Hundreds of people have been killed or wounded in high-profile bomb attacks since the beginning of the year, many in the capital Kabul, but provincial cities have also been hit as the Taliban, seeking to reimpose hardline Islamic rule, have stepped up fighting across the country.

Kandahar province, on the border with Pakistan, is a major center of opium cultivation and a stronghold of the Taliban but the city has recently been relatively secure.

Tuesday’s explosion came as the Taliban pushed ahead with their spring offensive, launched last month, with fighting in other areas of the country.

Officials said as many as seven police were killed in clashes on Monday night between security forces and the Taliban in the southwest province of Ghazni, where the insurgents have cut a key highway with the neighbouring province of Paktika.

Arif Noori, spokesman for the provincial governor, said a large Taliban force, armed with heavy weapons, attacked government positions in five districts of the province late on Monday, with fighting continuing until dawn.

He said insurgents burned down the police headquarters in Jaghato district.

The latest fighting coincided with a U.S. government report that found few signs of progress so far this year, with fighting spreading across the country and hundreds of casualties from high profile attacks in Kabul and other cities.

Security officials say violence is expected to pick up as preparations continue for parliamentary elections scheduled for October.


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Mounting outrage in India over 2 rapes puts govt in bind



Mounting outrage over two rapes, one in the disputed region of Kashmir

and another allegedly involving a lawmaker from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, gripped India on Friday,

with government ministers struggling to dampen political fires.

Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi held a candlelit vigil at India Gate in New Delhi, the same site where thousands

of people demonstrated in 2012 against a brutal gang-rape in the capital.

“Like millions of Indians, my heart hurts tonight,” Gandhi wrote on Twitter after addressing an estimated 5,000

people at Thursday’s midnight vigil.

“India simply cannot continue to treat its women the way it does.”

Modi has yet to speak out on the rapes, which have drawn conflicted responses among the lower ranks of his

own Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Horrifying details of the alleged gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl, Asifa, in a

Hindu-dominated area of Jammu and Kashmir state in January, emerged this week from a police charge sheet.

The BJP shares power in the state, where party members joined a rally to show support for eight Hindu men

accused of the crime, including a former bureaucrat and four police officers.

“Yet again we’ve failed as a society,” Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar said in a Twitter message.

“Can’t think straight as more chilling details on little Asifa’s case emerge…her innocent face refuses to

leave me. Justice must be served, hard and fast!”

Amid fears the case could escalate unrest in a region where security forces are battling separatist militants,

separatist leader Mirwaiz Farooq vowed to launch an agitation if any attempt was made to shield culprits

or sabotage investigations.

“It is a criminal act and perpetrators of the crime should be punished,” he added.

Thousands of Kashmiris joined street protests in Srinagar this week, following the death of four protesters in

a clash with security forces.

In the crime-ridden northern state of Uttar Pradesh, federal police on Friday began questioning a BJP member of

the state legislature who is accused of raping a teenage woman in June.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a rising star in the party, asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to

take over the case on Monday after the state’s police were heavily criticized for not acting sooner on the

victim’s complaint.

A CBI spokesman said the lawmaker, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, was being questioned on Friday, but had not been arrested.

Sengar’s lawyer has said his client was innocent and the case was a conspiracy to harm his political career.

Ministers have insisted that justice will be done no matter who committed the crime, while defending the

government’s record on fighting violence against women.

“We are here to safeguard the interest of our daughters, they are the daughters of the nation,” federal minister

Mahesh Sharma told reporters.

Maneka Gandhi, the minister for women and child development, said her ministry planned to propose the death penalty

for the rape of children younger than 12.

The maximum punishment now is life imprisonment.

Responding to the outpouring of national shame and anger after the 2012 New Delhi case, the then Congress-led

government tightened laws on crimes against women.

India registered about 40,000 rape cases in 2016, up from 25,000 in 2012, the latest data show.

Rights activists say thousands more go unreported because of a perceived stigma.


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Indian police arrests French journalist for filming in Kashmir



Indian police arrested a freelance French journalist in Kashmir for violating visa regulations, the city police chief said, after he was found filming for a documentary without permission.

Comiti Edward was arrested late Sunday in the Kothibagh area of Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir, Senior SP Imtiyaz Parray told Reuters.

Parray said Edward holds an Indian business visa valid until December 2018, but the visa does not permit him to make a documentary on political or security related issues.

He said a case has been registered under the Passport Act and the French embassy has been informed about the arrest.

Edward was shooting a documentary on Kashmir and had met separatist leader Mirwaiz Farooq, pellet gun victims and captured stone pelting incidents in Srinagar, said a senior police official, who did not wish to be named.

Official figures show no fewer than 3,800 people have been wounded and one killed by shotgun pellets since protests against Indian rule erupted in the disputed territory last year, with more than 100 left partially or fully blinded.

“We called him to ask him about his activities, but he refused to present himself before the police.

“He was not authorised to film here because he was on a business visa. He was finally arrested,” the senior official said.

Edward had sought the defence ministry’s permission for filming in Kashmir, but was denied because he was on a business visa, said the police official, who is not authorized to speak to the media.

Kashmir is claimed in full but ruled in part by India and Pakistan and has been at the heart of nearly seven decades of hostility between the neighbours.


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India arrests 7 Kashmir separatists for terror funding



India’s federal counter-terrorism agency arrested seven members of Kashmir’s main separatist alliance on Monday on charges of receiving funds from Pakistan-based militant groups to wage attacks.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said it had found cash and valuables worth millions of rupees, electronic devices and incriminating documents during raids on the seven members of All Parties Hurriyat Conference.

The Hurriyat is an umbrella group of political and religious groups fighting for Kashmir’s secession from India.

The accused could not be reached for comment.

Top leaders including Syed Geelani, Mirwaiz Farooq and Mohammad Malik condemned the arrests as arbitrary and called for a strike on Tuesday to protests the action.

Separatist violence and street protests have increased in Kashmir since last year when security forces killed a popular young separatist commander.

Separatists accuse Indian forces of rights abuses.

One of the seven arrested on charges of terror funding is Altaf Shah, a son-in-law of Geelani, who is a former chairman of the Hurriyat.

The NIA said in a statement that the men had received funds from the Hizbul Mujahideen, a group comprising largely indigenous fighters as well as the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group which was blamed for the 2008 attacks on Mumbai.

“Evidence collected so far clearly proves a financial trail as well as a direct link between terror activities and funding from Pakistan-based terror groups,” NIA spokesman Alok Mittal said.

Edited by: Abigael Joshua/Sadiya Hamza

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