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At least 133 killed, 200 injured in twin blasts in Pakistan; IS claims responsibility

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…As Afghan official says insurgents kill 11 soldiers in west***

At least 133 people, including a top nationalist leader, were killed and over 200 others injured in a powerful suicide blast and a targeted attack on separate election rallies in Pakistan on Friday.

The twin blasts are the deadliest in a series of assaults on candidates ahead of the July 25 polls in Pakistan. The United Nations and several world leaders have strongly condemned the attack on political candidates in Pakistan

Militants targeted a gathering of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader Siraj Raisani in Mastung area in the troubled Balochistan province.

“Raisani succumbed to wounds while he was being shifted to Quetta,” District Police Officer Mohammad Ayub Achakzai said.

Raisani is the brother of former Chief Minister of Balochistan Nawab Aslam Raisani.

The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack that left 128 people dead, police officials said.

The outfit announced the claim through its Aamaq news agency without providing further details.

At least 128 people, including Raisani, were killed in the deadly blast, police officials said.

Local media confirmed the death toll, quoting Balochistan’s Home Minister Agha Umar Bangalzai.

“We have more than 200 people injured and under treatment at different hospitals in Quetta and condition of some of the wounded is critical,” he said.

“Initially the death toll was not high but many critically injured persons including Siraj Raisani passed away in hospitals,” Balochistan’s caretaker health minister Faiz Kakar said.

Today’s attack is the deadliest terror strike in Pakistan since the brazen terror assault on an Army school in Peshawar in December 2014 in which about 150 people, mostly students, were killed.

Officials of the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) confirmed that it was a suicide blast. They said that around 16-20 kilogram of explosives were used in the attack.

Following the incident, an emergency was declared in Quetta hospitals, with additional medical staff summoned.

In the meantime, at least 11 soldiers were killed when their checkpoint came under an attack by Insurgents in western Afghanistan, a provincial official said Saturday.

Mohammad Naser Mehri, spokesman for the Farah provincial governor, said four other soldiers were wounded in the gun battle in Bala Buluk district. Mehri said nine insurgents were killed and 13 others wounded.

Mehri said a “large number” of insurgents launched an attack late Friday night and the battle continued into early Saturday.

The Taliban have not claimed responsibility for the attack but Mehri blamed the group, which has recently stepped up assaults against Afghan security forces in the province.

In southern Helmand province, meanwhile, a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives at a joint army and police checkpoint, killing policeman, said Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Zwak said 11 other soldiers and police were wounded in the attack, which took place outskirt of Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack in Helmand, but Taliban are in control of the majority of the districts in the province, where they have increased their attacks both against provincial officials and Afghan security forces.

Zee with additional report from ABC

Accidents

NIWA Condoles Actors Guild Of Nigeria, Victim’s Families Over Boat Mishap

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NIWA Condoles Actors Guild Of Nigeria, Victim's Families Over Boat Mishap

…As Ali Nuhu says recent deaths in movie industry rob the nation of legendary filmmakers

 The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), has conveyed its deepest regret over the unfortunate boat mishap which claimed four lives on Wednesday.

It could not yet be established whether or not, all the passengers wore lifejackets at the time of the incident.

A condolence message by Dakio Horsfall, the Acting General Manager (Marine) of the authority, on Thursday in Lokoja, said the management of the authority condoled with the Actors Guild of Nigeria and the victims’ families over the losses.

The mishap reportedly involved two boars on the River Niger en route to Asaba in Delta State at about 2:00 P.M. on Wednesday.

The accident, which involved an unregistered fibreglass boat with 12 persons on board and a privately owned wooden boat with a lone driver, left four persons dead, while seven others were rescued.

Horsfall said: “Preliminary reports indicated that the accident resulted from a frontal collision between the two boats due to overspeeding.

“Sadly, two people died at the scene of the accident, two more bodies were recovered 24 hours later off-site, while 7 persons were rescued.

“Consequently, the Authority commiserates with the families of the deceased persons and pray that the good Lord will repose the souls of the departed”.

He said that upon the receipt of the report of the accident through its community-based structure, the NIWA deployed its search and rescue team to the scene for immediate rescue activities.

NIWA Condoles Actors Guild Of Nigeria, Victim's Families Over Boat Mishap

According to him, the team and other stakeholders including the local divers, swung into action and have continued the search and rescue effort since Wednesday.

“As of the last count, one person is still unaccounted for.

“Also, the Marine Department of NIWA has activated its accident investigation mechanism to determine the cause(s) of the accident and make appropriate recommendations,” he said

The manager stressed the need for all users of the inland waterways to, mandatorily, adhere to all the established safety protocols, including the completion of passenger manifest at the loading and offloading points.

“The usage of life jackets on the waterways is mandatory, avoiding over speeding, and yielding to weather dictates, at all times,” he said.

Horsfall commended the Marine Police, local divers/ fishermen, Maritime Unions and other good-hearted Nigerians who rose to support the Authority in its rescue efforts.

“Nevertheless, NIWA hereby assures all Nigerians of its continuous efforts aimed at promoting safer inland waterways for the use of all”.

In another development, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), Mr Ali Nuhu has said that recent deaths in the movie industry have robbed the nation of legendary filmmakers.

This is contained in a statement signed by Brian Etuk,  the Director of Public Affairs of the NFC in Abuja.

Nuhu described the death of Saratu Gidado (aka Daso) and John Odonwodo,  known as Junior Pope, as heart-wrenching for colleagues and film industry stakeholders.

”Their deaths, which occurred within the week has left  Nigeria’s movie industry in a state of mourning.

”Stakeholders have been pained by the frequent recent losses robbing the country of legendary filmmakers,  who have impacted and contributed greatly to the growth of Nigeria’s film industry.

“Their footprints within the development of the Nigerian film industry will not be forgotten,” he said.

Speaking about the late Gidado, the NFC boss said she caught the fancy and interest of Nigerians, particularly as a lead character in several of Kannywood films,  such as ‘Linzami Da Wuta’ and ‘Gidauniya’.

”She was a Zuma Film Festival(ZUFF)  2023 Life Time Achievers Awardee but sadly succumbed to death in the early hours of Tuesday, April 9.

“Odonwodo’s role in showcasing the professional competencies and screen delivery by actors is remarkable,  as can be found in ‘Honey Money’, ‘Blood Affair’ and ‘Wrong Initiation’ movies in which the late actor acted.

 “While Mr Ibu delivered that evoked laughter and comic relief,  leaving behind a gap to be filled, the refined gentlemen shall be greatly missed,” he added.

Nuhu pledged that the NFC would continue to support the film industry policy initiatives that promoted friendly and safe working conditions,  including medical, health and life insurance schemes for stakeholders.

Nuhu also sympathised with the immediate families, friends and associates of the deceased, as well as the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) and prayed that Almighty God grant them rest.

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5  Die In Lagos-Ibadan Expressway Accident

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19 die, 26 injured in Kano auto crash — FRSC

Five persons were confirmed dead in an accident at NASFAT turning on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway on Wednesday.

Ten others sustained injuries in the accident.

Mrs Florence Okpe, the spokesperson for the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Ogun, confirmed the incident to newsmen in Abeokuta.

Okpe noted that the incident occurred at 9:56a.m and it involved a Daf truck marked KUT 561 ZZ, a Toyota Hiace bus marked GGE 84 YF, and a Man diesel truck without a registration number.

She said that the likely cause of the accident was dangerous driving on the part of one of the trucks.

”A total of 15 persons were involved, which comprised 11 men and four women.

” Ten were injured (six men and four women) while five persons were killed from the multiple crash,” she said.

The FRSC spokesperson said that the injured victims were taken to Famobis Hospital, Mowe, while the deceased were deposited at Idera Hospital morgue, Sagamu.

The Sector Commander, Anthony Uga, cautioned motorists on speed and reckless driving, advising them to drive defensively for safety. 

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Customs Suspends Noble Intention To Sell Rice At Rock-bottom Price

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Nigeria Customs Service’s noble intention to sell impounded rice to the masses at the rock-bottom price of N10,000 per half-bag has been suspended.

It would be recalled that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on the directive of Mr. President, announced the commencement of a noble intervention aimed at alleviating the hardships faced by Nigerians and improving access to essential food items through direct disposal of seized edible goods condemned in competent courts of law and certified fit for consumption by relevant government agencies. 

Consequently, according to the Chief Superintendent of Customs and National Public Relations Officer, Abdullahi Maiwada, a pilot exercise was conducted on Friday, 23 February 2024, at NCS Old Zonal Headquarters, Yaba, Lagos state. 

Stated Maiwada: “The exercise was conducted following meticulous planning to address all potential risks that may emerge during the exercise. As part of our process and control measures, we had Nigeria Police and military personnel to ensure crowd control. We also fully equipped a medical team on the ground in anticipation of potential risks during an exercise of that magnitude. Their presence was part of our proactive approach to ensuring the safety and well-being of all participants.

“The disposal of the food items got off to a smooth start at about 0800hrs. We enjoyed the cooperation of the large crowd that obliged us, giving preferences to the elderly, people living with disabilities, pregnant women, and other vulnerable Nigerians who showed up for the exercise. This was the case up until about 1700hrs, as attested to by the over 5000 beneficiaries and members of the press. 

 

“However, unforeseen challenges arose when we ran out of stock and announced the continuation of the exercise the following day, leading to a regrettable outcome. The crowd became desperate and charged through our barricades in search of rice bags inside emptied containers. In the stampede that ensued, some fatalities and injuries were regrettably recorded”, the Service Spokesman stated, stressing that the Nigeria Customs Service extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the unfortunate incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the affected families during this challenging time, and we assure them of our unwavering support. 

“We are working with Hospital Authorities to establish contact and engage directly with the victims’ families on their next steps. Following this incident, an internal investigation was initiated to understand the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate event. 

“As a service deeply committed to the welfare and safety of Nigerians, we recognize the need for heightened sensitivity and preventive measures in all our operations. 

“Considering the recent unfortunate event, we regrettably announce the suspension of this exercise until we establish what transpired on Friday, 23 February 2024. 

“This should help us to properly articulate more robust and comprehensive action that will not defeat the noble intention. We appreciate the understanding and cooperation of all Nigerians as we work towards addressing the challenges facing our nation’s food security”, the Imgemaker said further. 

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