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India: Tensions High In Delhi After Riots, Death Toll Rises To 38

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Tensions remained high in India’s capital Thursday, as thousands of riot police and paramilitaries patrolled streets littered with the debris from days of sectarian riots that have killed 38 people.

An uneasy calm has descended over the affected northeast fringes of the Indian capital, punctuated by sporadic outbreaks of violence overnight.

The unrest was the latest bout of violence over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s citizenship law, which triggered months of demonstrations that turned deadly in December.

Sunil Kumar, director of the Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital, said Thursday it had registered 34 deaths, adding that “all of them had gunshot injuries”.

The chief doctor at Lok Nayak Hospital said three people had died there. Another victim died at Jag Parvesh Chander Hospital, an official said.

Kishore Singh, medical superintendent at Lok Nayak Hospital, told AFP 10 people were still in a serious condition.

Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said families of those who died, were injured or had their businesses and homes destroyed during the rampage would be compensated.

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Food and other support would also be provided to trashed neighbourhoods, he added.

Police said they had detained or arrested more than 500 suspects for questioning, and had also starting holding “peace committee meetings” across the megacity to “improve inter-community harmony”.

The new fatalities — up from 27 on Wednesday — were all from the violence on Monday and Tuesday when mobs of Hindus and Muslims fought running battles, except for one from Wednesday.

The initial violence erupted late Sunday.

Groups armed with swords and guns set fire to thousands of properties and vehicles.

Homes, shops, two mosques, two schools, a tyre market and a fuel station were torched.

More than 200 people were also injured.

According to a list from the GTB hospital seen by AFP, the victims are a roughly even mix of Hindus and Muslims, based on their names.

Delhi police spokesman Mandeep Randhawa told AFP that there was “no major incident” overnight, while the city’s chief fire officer Atul Garg said they received 19 distress calls.

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‘Gun down traitors’

In December at least 30 people were killed, mostly in police action in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, home to a significant Muslim population, after the citizenship law was passed.

Many of India’s 200 million Muslims fear the citizenship law — combined with a mooted citizens’ register — will leave them stateless or even sent to detention camps.

They and critics see Modi’s right-wing ruling party, which is linked to once-banned militaristic Hindu group RSS, as wanting to turn officially secular India into a Hindu nation.

His party has denied the allegations but in recent weeks BJP politicians, including in an ugly recent campaign for Delhi elections, have called the demonstrators “anti-nationals” and “jihadists”.

One, Parvesh Verma, said protestors “could enter houses and rape and kill your sisters”, while another, Anurag Thakur, encouraged a crowd to chant “gun down traitors”.

A call on Sunday by another BJP politician, Kapil Mishra, for “Hindus” to clear a northeastern Delhi sit-in protest is being seen as the spark for the current unrest.

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On Wednesday a Delhi High Court judge, Justice S. Muralidhar, sharply criticised the police and called on them to investigate BJP politicians for inciting violence.

Muralidhar was transferred to another state court in a late-night order, prompting a social media storm. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad insisted it was a “routine transfer”.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on India’s political leaders to “prevent violence”, while the Organisation of the Islamic Conference said it “condemns the recent and alarming violence against Muslims in India”.

On Wednesday the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which advises Washington but does not set policy, voiced “grave concern” about the violence as President Donald Trump was visiting.

Trump, asked at a news conference in the capital about the violence, said the issue was “up to India” and praised Modi’s “incredible” statements on religious freedom.

AFP

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Taliban seize $12.4m from former top Afghan officials

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Taliban seize $12.4m from former top Afghan officials

Afghanistan’s Taliban-controlled central bank said it had seized nearly $12.4 million in cash and gold from former top government officials on Wednesday, including former vice president Amrullah Saleh.

In a statement, the central bank said the money and gold had been kept in officials’ houses, although it did not yet know for what purpose.

Saleh’s whereabouts are unknown.

He has vowed to resist the Taliban, who stormed to power a month ago, and last week a family member said the Taliban had executed his brother Rohullah Azizi.

In a separate statement, the bank urged Afghans to use the country’s local Afghani currency. It comes amid growing worries that the country’s banks and firms are running short of money, especially dollars, which are widely used.

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Taliban seize $12.4m from former top Afghan officials

In a sign that the Taliban are looking to recoup assets belonging to former government officials, the central bank issued a circular to local banks last week asking them to freeze the accounts of politically exposed individuals linked to the previous government, two commercial bankers said.

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‘Okonjo-Iweala knows how to get things done,’ Prince Harry, Meghan praise WTO boss

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'Okonjo-Iweala knows how to get things done,' Prince Harry, Meghan praise WTO boss
Okonjo Iweala
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‘Okonjo-Iweala knows how to get things done,’ Prince Harry, Meghan praise WTO boss

The list of influential figures cut across icons, pioneers, titans, artists, leaders, and innovators.

American news magazine, Time, has named Nigeria’s former minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was named alongside world leaders like United States President, Joe Biden, and Chinese President, Xi Jinping, in Time’s September 15 publication.

She tweeted moments after the publication that she was ‘honored and privileged’ to have made the cover of the magazine.

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In an appraisal penned by Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, they applauded her role in campaigning for equitable vaccine access across the world.

The Archewell founders noted that the world’s hope to defeat COVID-19 through vaccines rests on the shoulders of leaders like Okonjo-Iweala.

‘Okonjo-Iweala knows how to get things done,’ Prince Harry, Meghan praise WTO boss

“Our conversations with her have been as informative as they are energising.

“This is partly because, despite the challenges, she knows how to get things done—even between those who don’t always agree—and does so with grace and a smile that warms the coldest of rooms,” the Duke and Duchess wrote.

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Okonjo-Iweala made history in March when she officially started her tenure as the WTO DG, the first woman and first African to do so.

“Vaccine inequity is the most important issue to tackle right now in this pandemic because it determines how we’re going to recover globally, and how many lives we save.

“With the variants that are mutating and the number of people dying, it is unacceptable that when you have the technology to save lives, some people don’t have access,” the 67-year-old told Time.

Wednesday’s list also had names of leaders like U.S. vice president, Kamala Harris, Indian president, Narendra Modi, as well as influential figures like Elon Musk, Tim Cook, Dolly Parton, and the Duke and Duchess themselves.

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The list of influential figures cut across icons, pioneers, titans, artists, leaders, and innovators.

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Vicious ISWAP Leader, Al-barnawi, Killed

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Vicious ISWAP Leader, Al-barnawi, Killed

• How he succeeded his father, B/Haram founder, Mohammed Yusuf
• Led terrorists’ onslaughts on security forces
• We’re not aware of his death – Military
• Situation dicey – Expert

Leader of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), Abu Musab Al-Barnawi has been killed in Borno State, Daily Trust learnt from many sources.

He was reportedly killed in the last week of August, this year.

Al-Barnawi was the son of Boko Haram founder, Mohammed Yusuf who was also killed by security forces in 2009 when he launched a war against the Nigerian state. More than one thousand people died during the uprising.

In 2016, the Islamic State (IS) militant group announced Al-Barnawi as the leader of its West African affiliate, Boko Haram, which was hitherto led by Abubakar Shekau.

Shekau took over as the group’s leader after the death of Mohammed Yusuf.

Before his dethronement, Shekau had sworn allegiance to IS in March 2015 and had killed thousands of people and destroyed countless communities during his reign of terror that extended up to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

His dislodgement in 2016 heralded the rise of the relatively young Al-Barnawi as ISWAP leader and at the same time, the split of the terrorist group into two factions.

It was reported that ISIS partly chose Al-Barnawi as leader in the Lake Chad region in order to punish Shekau who reportedly “violated all known norms” and to also retain the confidence of Boko Haram fighters who were loyal to his father, Yusuf amid threats from other factional groups.

Al-Barnawi was also said to have been trained by ISIS for years ahead of his ascension to power.

Shekau, who was declared wanted by the United States with a price on his head, had led the Boko Haram faction with solid footing around the Sambisa forest and part of the Mandara Mountains bordering the Cameroon Republic.

Vicious ISWAP Leader, Al-barnawi, Killed

On the other hand, Al-Barnawi sustained vicious attacks especially on military facilities and troops in the Lake Chad region while at the same time strategising on how to subdue Shekau.

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He controlled large swathes of territory in Northern Borno, imposed taxes on the local population and earned serious income from fishing asides from the financial and material support he got from ISIS.

Al-Barnawi’s fighters had also destroyed many military super camps in Dikwa, Monguno, Abadam and Marte in Borno; and other military facilities around Geidam in Yobe State.

He equally established many cells on the Lake Chad islands and surrounding villages from where his fighters launched attacks on Nigeria, Niger and Chad.

His death in August, after that of Shekau in May 2021, was seen as a turning point in the war against terror even as security experts had called for sustained offensive towards decimating the two rival groups to have a lasting peace after twelve years of uncertainty and carnage.

They said despite the massive surrender by Boko Haram fighters, nothing should be taken for a ride because there are many fighters who still believe in the course they are pursuing and could recover lost grounds if they get the slightest opportunity.

How Al-Barnawi was killed

There are two versions of the story of Al-Barnawi’s death with one saying he was killed by Nigerian troops and the other version saying he died during a rival war within the ISWAP camp.

The first version revolved around the information shared among some security operatives in the theatre of operation, which indicated that he was ambushed by troops during which four or five top ISWAP leaders and many foot terrorists loyal to him were also killed.

A source said he was killed around Bula Yobe, a community near the Borno/Yobe states border along Mobbar and Abadam axis that leads to the Lake Chad area.

However, a different source said the Bula Yobe where he was ambushed and killed could be accessed from Yale, Bama, Banki junction through the Kashimbri-Gulumba.

Other sources told the Daily Trust that it was leadership tussle that led to the death of Al-Barnawi.

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One of them said the battle of supremacy climaxed between August 14 and 26, 2021, and that the fight had claimed many commanders on both sides.

Yet, another source said the other camp had mobilised some terrorists from Central Africa to overthrow Al-Barnawi and they succeeded.

The military high command in Nigeria rarely confirms or denies the killing of high profile Boko Haram/ISWAP commanders because of the sensitivity of the issues.

This might not be unconnected with the multiple announcements of the killing of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau over the years only for him to resurface again and again.

It was until May 2021, when ISWAP fighters engaged Shekau in a fierce battle that led him to kill himself at one of his enclaves at the Sambisa forest.

When contacted yesterday, the Director, Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Benjamin Sawyer, told one of our correspondents that he could not confirm when Al-Barnawi was killed because troops had no link with them.

He said, “If there is a problem in their (Boko Haram) camp, how will I know? We normally have a fortnightly brief on operations. If ISWAP or BHTs are fighting among themselves, it is the media that always gives the entire nation the information. It is not us, because we are not in their camps.”

Daily Trust reports that Al-Barnawi fell less than two months after he consolidated his grip following the death of Shekau.

He had in an audio released in Kanuri language confirmed the death of Shekau and the triumph of his faction.

This is what he said in the 28-minute audio, “He (Shekau) never thought this would happen to him even in his dream, but by the power of God, we destabilised him.

“He became confused and fled to the forest where he spent five days, wandering and stranded. We followed him again where we faced him with heavy fire. He ran away.

Then our troops called on him to surrender so that he would be punished. We kept assuring him that we were not out to kill him but he was adamant and confused. As a cantankerous fellow, he believed it was better for him to die than to surrender,” he said.

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Shekau reportedly killed himself with a bomb “When he observed that the ISWAP fighters wanted to capture him alive.”

Vicious ISWAP Leader, Al-barnawi, Killed

It’s a dicey issue – Expert

A security sector reform expert, Chukwuma Ume, while speaking on the implications of the ISWAP leader’s killing on counter-insurgency, said it would have both positive and negative effects on the country.

According to him, “We are trying to focus as a nation. We are trying to up our game in terms of dealing with the issue of terrorism and insurgency.

“In as much as many people may want to say it is a welcome development, it shows that our military is waging this war seriously as we expect them but some of us will still think that a unilateral output, in this case, kinetic (use of force), may also not be the entire solution or a comprehensive solution that is required.

“This is not to take away anything from the Nigerian military. This is not to take anything away from our men and women out on the field but we are also calling on the government to be a bit more proactive in the sense that the issues leading to these: insurgency, terrorism or violent extremism should be dealt with.

“It needs a more holistic approach or integrated approach. Where there are structural imperfections or imbalance, where there are issues of exclusivity, where people feel that the quality of the life they live is on the defensive, the government should endeavour to provide these social contracts, especially those who are hitherto disadvantaged to become inclusive and to also have equitable distribution of source of livelihood.

“Yes, it is good that we seem to be winning the war, but at the same time we need to start addressing those issues that gave rise in the first instance to insurgency,” he said.

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