Dozens die in twin attacks in Iraq

BBC report says that at least 50 people were killed in two attacks in southern Iraq. In the first attack gun men stormed a restaraunt in Nasiriyah, the captial of Dhiqar province, and opened fire, BBC reports citing the Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesperson. Shortly afterwards a car bomb exploded at a nearby checkpoint. One report says that at least four Iranians were among those killed.

Malaysia Blaze Kills Many

A deadly fire has swept through Malaysian school, twenty five persons, most of them students were killed in the blaze. The fire broke out before dawn in a relegious school, officials have called it Malaysias worst disaster for years. The school was located in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. 

Firefighters put out the blaze in an hour. However the fire left terrible devastation. According to the Director of Fire and Rescue 23 students were killed and two adults who were wardens of the hostel. They may have died because of smoke inhalation or got trapped in the fire. The causes are being investigated by the authorities.


250,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh 

A quarter of a million or more mostly Rohingyas refugees, have fled to Bangladesh, according to the UN. Channel News Asia (CNA) reports that some sank attempting to cross the river that divides the countries. Bodies washed  up  on tthe banks of the river. CNN reports that women and children died in  the accident. According to the border guards 8 bodies were  recovered from the side of the Naf river, on  Wenessday on the Bangladeshi side of the river, half of whom were children. 

The deaths occurred due to boat capsizing. This has been happenning since day one. Since then around 60  – 65 bodies have been recovered CNN reports quoting the Bangladesh border guards. No one has claimed the bodies they don’t recognize their own relatives, this is attributed to their distress. BBC | CNN | CNA


Kenya opposition leader threatens boycott of election

The elections mandated by the Supreme Court are going to take place within 60 days. The opposition leader Mr. Raila Odinga has sad that he will boycott them. The election re-run would take place on October 17 2017. He said that there should be “legal and constitutional guarntees.” The supreme court had said that elections need to be held by October 31. Mr. Odinga said that the election rerun would not be any different from the one that was annuled by the Supreme Court of Kenya. 

The election results had been tampered with during transmission from the polling booth, according to the opposition. The opposition coalition, NASA allaince had gone to the Supreme Court challenging the election of Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta. They alleged that someone had gained access to IEBC’s computer in order to tweak the results in favor of Mr. Kenyatta.

The Supreme Court of Kenya hasn’t released the full ruling, therefore it is not clear what went wrong. Mr. Odinga wants some of the commissioners to be sacked, alleging that they are partisan. He also criticised the IEBC for announcing the new election dates without consulting the opposition parties. The opposition leader alleged that the election date had been set by the governing Jubilee Party.  He also alleged that the election re-run was going to be between him and Mr. Kenyatta. In the earlier election there were eight candidates, the rerun should be exactly like the one that was annuled. 

Rohingyas trapped in Myanmar mountains

Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees are trapped on the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. They have no food or medicines, this is a result of the operations by the Myanmar millitary. The army has already killed hundreds, CNN reports.

The satellite images shown by the Human Rights Watch show entire villages set on fire in clashes between local millitants and the armed forces. CNN reports that 73, 000 Rohingyas have fled across the border since August 25, according to the UN. There are reports that 30,000 have been “trapped in the hilly terrain without basic food supplies, water or medicines, the activists say. 

The German news channel, DW, says that a charity MOAS, which has rescued 40, 000 migrants over the past three years, is to end operations on the Libyan coast will now aid the Rohingya who have fled the violence in Myanmar.The Migrant Offshore Aid Station, (MOAS) is based in Malta. It said it was a very complex decision to suspend operations in the Mediterranean. It will “transfer its rescue ship to Bay of Bengal to help presecuted Rohingyas Muslims fleeing Myanmar. (DW)” 

Cambodia crackdown

The last independent newspaper in Cambodia will be downing its shutters after the Cambodian government slapped it with a huge tax bill. The newspaper which had been often critical of the government in Phnom Penh said it was destroyed by the tax bill of $6.3 million. On Sunday Cambodia’s opposition leader, Kern Sokha, was arrested on treason charges, BBC reports. The opposition leader had been charged with collaborating with unnamed foreigners to harm the country. 

The crackdown could be in response to the forthcoming general elections in Cambodia. Hun Sen is a former Khmer Rouge cadre and is the Prime Minister of the country since 1985. The opposition poses a challenge for the PM in the upcoming election. The opposition leader’s daughter, Monovithya Kem, who is also an official in the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), said on Twitter that Kem Sokha and his body guards had been taken away, his house was ransacked. About 100 to 200 policemen cam to his home withut a warrant. 


Pyongyang test fires a powerful missile 

North Korea has said that it has tested a hydrogen bomb which according to experts was more powerful than the previous ones. The test caused an earthquake according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), recorded at 6.3 magnitude, “it was a possible explosion located near the site where North Korea detonated nuclear explosions in the past. (DW)” USGS and China’s earthquake administration reported a second smaller earthquake caused by a cave in, according to the German news channel.

In the past too there have been earthquakes recorded whenever Pyongyang carried out nuclear weapons tests, however, the 6.3 magnitude tremor indicates that this time it was a larger than previous such tests. 

North Korea claims that the nuclear weapon could be loaded into long range missile. Accordig to North Korea it was its sixth nuclear test. Pyongyang claims it has tested a hydrogen bomb, which is several times more powerful than the atomic bomb. However, the analysts say that the claims should be taken with a pinch of salt, they agree that the Hermit Kingdom’s capabilities are advancing. 

North Korea’s last nuclear test was in September 2016. As Graffiti has said in its posts on Pyongyang the sanctions did not have any palpable effect. The missiles if deployed have the capability to reach the US mainland. BBC says that the “artificial quake” was 9.8 times more powerful than the 5th test, according to the weather agency. North Korea has claimed it has miniaturized a hydrogen bomb. State media said that the missile could be loaded on to a long-range ballistic missile, the state media described it as a new type of hydrogen bomb.  

Kenya Supreme Court decision brings into question role of observers

The role of international election monitors raises questions. Their assessment had been that the elections were free and fair. The opposition leader Raila Odinga was shown in a bad light, as a bad loser. The civil society hadn’t been too happy with the outcome and brought into question the working of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, (IEBC). It had declared the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner with 54 percent vote. 

The international community quickly accepted the verdict of the vote,  Donald Trump was among the leaders who congratulated Kenyatta over the election victory. The 2007 elections were marred by violence in which 1,200 people were killed, the international observer group was focussed on maintaining order in the August 8 2017 elections. However, there was violence when the protesters reacted to the results. The opposition leader was urged to seek the legal route. France24 says that the opposition leader did not have enough faith in the courts, he did place the matter before the Supreme Court.

However, to everyone’s surprise the court returned an unexpected verdict, declaring the results null and void. The court accused the electoral board of “irregularities ” during the recent presidential vote. The verdict is a setback for the President who called the judges “crooks.” The judge delivering his verdict said that the “election was not conducted in accordance with the constitution and applicable laws, rendering the results invalid, null and void.” Two of the judges who formed a bench dissented saying “verdict of the people should not be nullified due to the challenges that arose during the electoral process.”

New elections will take place in 60 days. The violence that followed the announcement of the results left 16 people dead – including a baby and a nine year old girl. Dozens were injured. There hasn’t been any report of violence after the court verdict. Uhuru Kenyatta has graciously accepted the verdict. He said that he accepted the verdict although he disagreed with it. He said this in a televised speech. Odinga praised the verdict and called it a historic day, “We are ready for elections but we have no confidence in the electoral commission.” He called for disbanding the electoral board and its officials to be prosecuted. The board has said that it will shuffle some staff.

Odinga and his coalition National Super Allaince had been given access to the electoral board’s electronic servers to verify the results of the election. Odinga had along with technology experts, Odinga had discovered that the electoral commission’s computers were rigged to hand Kenyatta a victory. Musaila Mudavadi, another leading figure in the National super Allaince told DW, that the electoral commission was able to hoodwink the international team of observers, he said that the “whole issue of the obervers needs to be looked at afresh…”