Sunday, December 25, 2011

Nigerian Bomb attacks kill up to 35 churchgoers in Nigeria | World | Deutsche Welle | 25.12.2011

Bomb attacks kill up to 35 churchgoers in Nigeria

An Islamist sect known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for an attack on a Catholic church during Christmas Mass in Nigeria that has killed up to 35 people. The group has claimed other weekend attacks as well.

A bomb explosion during Christmas Mass at the St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Nigeria left as many as 35 people dead on Sunday. Madalla is near the Nigerian capital Abuja.

Angry youths gathered around the blast site after the attack as police tried to cordon off the area. The youths lit fires and threatened to burn down a police station before they were dispersed by officers firing rounds into the air.

The attack was claimed by an Islamist sect known as Boko Haram, which also took responsibility for another bombing near a church on Sunday in the city of Jos.

Onlookers and security staff gather around a car destroyed in a blast next to St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Nigeria, Sunday,Islamic terrorists have taken responsibility for the attacks

Widespread attacks

According to government spokesman Pam Ayuba, gunmen opened fire on police guarding that site after the blast and killed one officer.

There have been four blasts in Nigeria on Christmas Day altogether, with two additional blasts occurring in Damaturu. One of those was a suicide attack which killed three security agents. On Christmas Eve, a fifth attack took place in the town of Gadaka, with no injuries reported.

The Vatican swiftly condemned the deadly attack in Madalla, saying it was an act of "blind hatred."

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also condemned the attacks in Nigeria, as well as a suicide attack that killed 20 people in Afghanistan.

"Even on Christmas Day the world is sadly not spared the cowardice and horrors of terrorism," he said.

The White House called the attacks "senseless violence and tragic loss of life" in a statement, adding that the attacks initially appeared to be terrorist acts and that the US would assist in bringing those responsible to justice.

Onlookers  gather around a car destroyed in a blast next to St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Nigeria,There were five blasts altogether, with at least 27 deadHistory of Christmas violence

Boko Haram is known in Nigeria for its increasingly bloody attacks which are aimed at implementing strict Shariah law across Nigeria. Nigerians are split roughly evenly between Muslims in the north of the country and Christians in the south.

In the native Hausa language, the name Boko Haram has the meaning "Western education is sinful." The group is based loosely in its thinking on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan and has emerged as a major security threat in the country of some 160 million people.

Last year, a series of bombings in Jos on Christmas Eve took at least 32 lives and left several dozen wounded.

Author: Matt Zuvela (AFP, AP, Reuters)
Editor: Ben Knight

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bangladeshi woman's husband 'chopped off her fingers' BBC News -

Hawa Akther Jui recovering from the attackMs Akther hopes to continue her studies using her left hand to hold a pen

Related Stories

Human rights groups in Bangladesh have demanded a severe punishment for the husband of a young woman who allegedly cut off most of her right hand.
Police say Rafiqul Islam, 30, attacked her because she pursued higher education without his permission.
They say Mr Islam, a migrant worker, admitted to the crime shortly after returning home from the Gulf.
However there has been no independent confirmation from the suspect that he carried out the attack.
The incident is one of a number of acts of domestic violence targeting educated women in recent months.
Police say that Mr Islam, who works in the United Arab Emirates, tied up his 21-year-old wife, Hawa Akther Jui, earlier this month. He then taped her mouth and cut off the five fingers.
'Severe consequences'

Bangladeshi woman's husband 'chopped off her fingers'

A young Bangladeshi woman, whose husband is accused of cutting off her fingers after she began a college course without his permission, has spoken to the BBC about her determination to carry on with her studies.
The attack on Hawa Akther Jui, 21, is the latest in a series of acts of domestic violence targeting educated women in the country.
The BBC's Anbarasan Ethirajan reports.
Doctors say the fingers cannot be re-attached and it appears that Ms Akther will have to live with permanent disfigurement.
Rafiqul IslamRafiqul Islam is reported to have confessed to the crime
"After he came back to Bangladesh, he wanted to have a discussion with me. Suddenly, he blindfolded me and tied my hand," Ms Akther told the BBC from the town of Narsingdi.
"He also taped my mouth saying that he would give me some surprise gifts. But, instead he cut off my fingers."
She said her husband, who is not well educated, did not approve of her enrolling in a college for higher studies.
During their earlier telephone conversations, she said, he warned her of "severe consequences" if she went against his word.
"Doctors said my fingers could be re-attached within six hours but he refused to give them. After that time, another relative of my husband threw the fingers in a dustbin.
"We finally recovered them but it was too late," said Ms Akther, who is still recovering at her parents' house.
She said that she did not want to live with her husband - who is now in police custody - any more.
The police officer investigating the case, ARM Al-Mamun, said "preliminary investigations" had led police to believe that it was a "pre-planned attack".
"He [the husband] admitted to cutting off his wife's fingers. We will be pressing charges against him," Mr Al-Mamum said.
A family member of Mr Islam said that the couple had "differences" on some issues, including her decision to pursue higher studies.
Ms Akther - who is eager to continue her studies - said that she wanted her husband to be severely punished for the attack.
"I have now started practising writing with my left hand. I want to see how far I can go. I never imagined that my fingers would be chopped off like this because of my studies."
The attack follows an incident in June in which a university lecturer lost one eye while the other was badly wounded in an attack allegedly carried out by her husband.
The accused man in this case, Syeed Hasan Sumon, died in custody earlier this month while awaiting trial.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Al-Qaida offshoot hopes to turn Africa's Sahel region into a 'new Somalia' | World news | The Guardian

AQIM terrorist bases across sub-Saharan strip pose a growing security threat to Africa and Europe, says panel of experts

Libya weapons
The threat from al-Qaida in the Maghreb has been exacerbated after terrorists plundered advanced weapons from Libya during the fall of Gaddafi. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features

An offshoot of al-Qaida is working to turn the whole of Africa's Sahel region into a "new Somalia" and terrorist bases there pose a growing threat to European and pan-African security, a panel of experts has warned.

Jerome Spinoza, head of the Africa bureau in the French ministry of defence, said the sub-Saharan Sahel area, up to 1,000km wide and stretching from the Atlantic in the west to the Red Sea in the east, presented challenges that western policymakers ignored at their peril.

"Instability is on the rise," Spinoza told the Chatham House thinktank in London on Thursday. "Without a meaningful policy, the area could constitute a lasting safe haven for jihadists."

Robert Fowler, a former UN special envoy to Niger and Canadian diplomat who was kidnapped and held hostage for four months in 2008-9 by al-Qaida in the Maghreb (AQIM), said the 31-strong group of captors was well-disciplined and wholly concentrated on its aim of creating an Islamic caliphate embracing the Muslim lands of Africa and the Middle East.

"These men are highly motivated and totally ascetic," Fowler said. "These guys have no needs. They are dressed in rags. They have a bag of rice and a belt of ammunition and that's it. I was held in 23 different locations in about 70 days. They are organised. They can break camp in under four minutes."

Fowler continued: "This was the most focused group of young men I have ever encountered in my life. They are totally committed to jihad. They said to me, 'We fight to die, you fight to go home to your wife and kids. Guess who will win?' Even if it takes 200 years … They want to turn the Sahel into a new Somalia."

Fowler said the terrorist threat to Europe's southern flank had risen after advanced weapons were plundered during the collapse of the Gaddafi regime in Libya. "They (AQIM) are now equipped with enormous amounts of Libyan weapons and I mean sophisticated weapons such as 20,000 [shoulder-mounted] SA-24 missiles, heavy mortars, heavy artillery and thousands of anti-tank mines … The UN has demanded they be handed over. Well, good luck with that."

The Sahel region embraces southern Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, southern Algeria, Niger, northern Nigeria, Chad, South Sudan and Darfur in western Sudan, northern Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Spinoza said a host of critical issues faced the region going beyond terrorism. They included recurring rebellions by nomadic Tuareg tribesmen, some of whom were armed by and fought as mercenaries for Gaddafi in this year's Libya conflict, cocaine trafficking to Europe from the west African coast, and people and arms smuggling.

The region was also confronted by rapid population growth, weak and ineffective governance, inter-state tensions, poor access to education and employment, and increasingly acute food supply problems exacerbated by climate change and the southward advance of the Sahara desert, he said.

AQIM was exploiting the resulting instability, he suggested, spreading its influence south from Algeria and raising the prospect of transcontinental link-ups with Boko Haram militant Islamists in Nigeria and al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Spinoza called for a joined-up approach by the international community, suggesting interested countries including France, the Netherlands and the US needed to coordinate their policies with regional and local players. "The EU's strategy for security involves development, rule of law and (non-military) security but the EU needs to be more concrete," he said.

Speaking this week, Kristalina Georgieva, the EU commissioner for humanitarian aid crisis response, said the Sahel was likely to experience severe food shortages next year because of erratic rainfall and localised dry spells.

Seven million people were already facing shortages in Niger, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, she said. Current trends pointed to a massive problem of food availability next year.

The European commission last month increased humanitarian funding to the Sahel by €10m (£8.5m) to a total of €55m this year. Niger and Mauritania have already declared a crisis, prepared national action plans, and appealed for international help.

At the eastern end of the Sahel arc, 13 million people remained in need of emergency help and the crisis there was expected to last until the spring and perhaps the summer of 2012, Georgieva said.