Nigeria’s military acknowledges major attack by extremists

The Nigerian military if often reluctant to expose the number of casualties after such attacks. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 November 2018

Nigeria’s military acknowledges major attack by extremists

  • Nigeria’s leader is “worried by Boko Haram’s renewed attacks on military bases”
  • Nigerians are increasingly concerned about reports of growing casualties among troops fighting extremists

LAGOS, Nigeria: Nigeria’s military on Saturday acknowledged a major attack against it by extremists after opposition lawmakers said 44 soldiers were killed, while public pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari grew over the failure of his pledge to defeat Boko Haram.
The military statement issued overnight didn’t say how many are dead after the Nov. 18 attack in Metele in the northeast, but it dismissed media reports citing even higher tolls and called the situation under control. Nigeria is often reluctant to expose the number of casualties after such attacks.
As Buhari faces growing pressure over insecurity ahead of next year’s presidential election, an aide said the president had summoned military chiefs and sent the defense minister to neighboring Chad for an “urgent meeting” with President Idriss Deby. A multinational force combating Boko Haram is based in Chad.
Nigeria’s leader is “worried by Boko Haram’s renewed attacks on military bases,” aide Bashir Ahmad said in a post on Twitter.
The Daesh West Africa Province, the largest Daesh-linked extremist group in Africa and a recent offshoot of Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group that monitors extremist messaging. The group last month caused outrage by killing an abducted health worker despite an urgent plea from the International Committee of the Red Cross to spare her life.
Nigerians are increasingly concerned about reports of growing casualties among troops fighting extremists.
Buhari, who made the defeat of the Nigeria-based Boko Haram a major goal of his presidency when he was elected in 2015, “is preoccupied with re-election campaigns” while many homes are filled with mourners, human rights activist Okechukwu Nwanguma said in a statement on Saturday.
The government under Buhari, a former military dictator from the north, has claimed in the past that Boko Haram has been “crushed,” but the extremists continue to carry out deadly suicide bombings and abductions in the northeast and wider Lake Chad region.
In an interview with The Associated Press last month, Nigeria’s information minister Lai Mohammed said that “today not a single inch of our territory is occupied by Boko Haram” and that peace had largely returned to the northeast.


Indian police agree to allow protesting farmers into capital

Updated 28 November 2020

Indian police agree to allow protesting farmers into capital

  • The farmers are protesting new agricultural laws that they fear will reduce their earnings in favor of corporations

NEW DELHI: Thousands of angry Indian farmers protesting new agricultural laws were allowed to enter the capital late Friday after they clashed with police who had blocked them at the outskirts of New Delhi.
The farmers, who fear new legislation will reduce their earnings and give more power to corporations, will be escorted to a protest site in New Delhi, police said in a statement. It was not immediately clear where the protests would be held.
For the last two months, farmer unions have rejected the laws, which were passed in September, and have camped on highways in Punjab and Haryana states. They say the measure could cause the government to stop buying grain at guaranteed prices and result in their being exploited by corporations that would buy their crops at cheap prices.
The government says the laws are needed to reform agriculture by giving farmers the freedom to market their produce and boosting production through private investment.
The farmers began their march to the capital on Thursday to pressure Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to abolish the laws, but were stopped by large numbers of security personnel in riot gear on the boundary between New Delhi and Haryana state.
They resumed their march early Friday, unfazed by overnight rain and chilly winter temperatures.
Heading toward New Delhi on tractors and cars, the farmers were again blocked by police at the capital’s fringes. This led to clashes with police, who used tear gas, water cannons and baton charges to push them back.
In response, farmers used tractors to clear walls of concrete, shipping containers and parked trucks set up by police on roads leading to the capital.
Some protesters also threw stones at officers and waved the flags of farmer unions. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
“We are fighting for our rights. We won’t rest until we reach the capital and force the government to abolish these black laws,” said Majhinder Singh Dhaliwal, a farmer leader.
Earlier, in a bid to stop the protesters from riding commuter trains into the capital, the Delhi Metro suspended some services. Traffic slowed to a crawl as vehicles were checked along state boundaries, leading to huge jams on some highways.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urged the federal government to initiate talks with protest leaders. Many of the farmers are from Punjab, one of the largest agricultural states in India.
“The voice of farmers cannot be muzzled indefinitely,” Singh wrote on Twitter.
Negotiations between the leaders of farmer unions and the government to defuse the standoff have been unsuccessful. Farmers say they will continue to protest until the government rolls back the laws.
Opposition parties and some Modi allies have called the laws anti-farmer and pro-corporation.
Farmers have long been seen as the heart and soul of India, where agriculture supports more than half of the country’s 1.3 billion people. But farmers have also seen their economic clout diminish over the last three decades. Once accounting for a third of India’s gross domestic product, they now produce only 15% of the country’s $2.9 trillion economy.
Farmers often complain of being ignored and hold frequent protests to demand better crop prices, more loan waivers and irrigation systems to guarantee water during dry spells.