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U.S. Bans Nigerian Anti-Democracy Agents From Obtaining Entry Visas

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The U.S. administration has said it would henceforth deny entry visas to persons it described as “individuals responsible for undermining the Nigerian democratic process”.

Some of those to be denied visas are persons involved in election violence, a spokesperson of the U.

S.
Department of State, Ms Morgan Ortagus, announced on Tuesday.

According to the spokesman, such persons “operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights”, in reference to the recently conducted 2019 general elections which claimed at least 39 lives across the country in election-related violence.

Ortgaus said the action, was in fulfillment of the U.S. government’s earlier promise to consider sanctions against anti-democratic forces, including organisers of election-related violence in the country.

“In a Jauary 24 statement, the U.S. government said that we would consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for individuals responsible for undermining the Nigerian democratic process or for organising election-related violence.

“To that end, the Secretary of State is imposing visa restrictions on Nigerians believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria.

“These individuals have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights,” she said.

The spokesperson emphasised that the restrictions targeted at specific individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people or the newly-elected government.

She explained that the decision reflected the Department’s commitment to working with the Nigerian government in its anti-corruption crusade and efforts to strengthen democracy, accountability and respect for human rights.

“The United States is a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy.

“We commend all those Nigerians who participated peacefully in the February and March 2019 elections and have worked to strengthen Nigerian democratic institutions and processes.

“As Nigeria marks the 20th anniversary of a return to democratic rule this year, we remain committed to working together to continue to advance democracy and respect for human rights and achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations.

“We condemn those whose acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption harmed Nigerians or undermined the democratic process,” the spokesperson added.(NAN)

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Militants in Lebanon Launched 6 Suicide Drones at Israel, Causing Fire

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Militants in Lebanon launched six unmanned aerial vehicles at northern Israel on Tuesday, causing fire and damage.

Only one of the drones was intercepted by the country’s Aerial Defense Array, the Israeli military said in a statement.

“One of the drones exploded near the community of Yiftah, close to the Israel-Lebanon border, sparking a fire,” he said.

The Israeli military added that several other drones caused light damage, with no causalities reported.

Israel’s state-owned Kan TV news reported that the drones were launched by Hezbollah, a Lebanese armed group and party, which had been fighting against Israel along the border since Oct. 7, 2023.

Lebanese military sources, who spoke anonymously, said that Israel’s F-15 warplanes intercepted, at very low altitudes, several drones that were heading from Lebanon to northern Israel.

Hezbollah said on Tuesday that its military wing, the Islamic Resistance, targeted Israeli officers and soldiers in the Yiftah barracks with drones while reporting casualties.

The drones targeted an Iron Dome platform in the Ramot Naftali Barracks, damaging it, he said.

The drones came after Israeli troops fired at Aalma El Chaab in southern Lebanon.

On Monday, Israeli warplanes stroked a Hezbollah military structure and infrastructure in the area of Mazraat Aaqmata in southern Lebanon.

Earlier Tuesday, Lebanese Labor Minister, Moustafa Bayram, said that Israeli attacks caused damage to around 3,000 business facilities in southern Lebanon, according to the National News Agency (NNA).

Bayram said he would contact the Arab Labor Organization and Arab member states as soon as the war ends to request a grant for people affected by Israeli attacks. (Xinhua/NAN)

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Flames, Smoke Continue to Emerge from Massive Landfill in Delhi

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Flames and columns of thick smoke continued to emerge from a massive landfill in the Indian capital city of New Delhi on Monday, officials said.

Fire fighting operations were underway and fire-fighters were splashing water on the burning mounds of garbage.

The fire has continued at the colossal landfill site since it broke out on Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, toxic fumes emanating from the landfill have left residents in the neighbourhood to gasp for breath.

“There is a pungent smell all around. The smoke is poisonous and causes irritation in the eyes,’’ Dileep Pandey said.

Pandey is a local resident, living within the area.

“We are also facing difficulty in breathing.

’’

While the cause of the fire remained undetermined, authorities have initiated legal proceedings against unidentified individuals in relation to the incident.

According to the Delhi Fire Services department, the landfill caught fire because of the methane produced in the heaps of waste.

Officials listed hot and dry weather conditions as the reason behind the blaze. (Xinhua/NAN)

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Israeli Forces Vow Response to Iran’s Attack Despite Calls for Restraint

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Israelis awaited word on how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would respond to Iran’s first-ever direct attack as international pressure for restraint grew amid fears of an escalation of conflict in the Middle East.

Netanyahu on Monday summoned his war cabinet for the second time in less than 24 hours to weigh a response to Iran’s massive weekend missile and drone attack, a government source said.

While the attack caused no deaths and little damage, thanks to the air defences and countermeasures of Israel and its allies, it has increased concerns that violence rooted in the Gaza war is spreading, and fears of open war between the long-time foes.

Israeli military chief of staff Herzi Halevi said on Monday that “this launch of so many missiles – cruise missiles and drones – into Israeli territory will be met with a response” but gave no details.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani told state TV on Monday night that Tehran’s response to any Israeli retaliation would come in “a matter of seconds, as Iran will not wait for another 12 days to respond”.

But the prospect of Israeli retaliation has alarmed many Iranians already enduring economic pain and tighter social and political controls since protests in 2022-23.

Iran launched the attack in retaliation for an airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1 attributed to Israel, and signalled that it did not seek further escalation.

U.S. President Joe Biden told Netanyahu at the weekend that the United States, which helped Israel blunt the Iranian attack, would not participate in an Israeli counter-strike.

Since the war in Gaza began in October, clashes have erupted between Israel and Iran-aligned groups based in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq.

Israel said four of its soldiers were wounded hundreds of metres inside Lebanese territory overnight, the first known Israeli ground penetration into Lebanon since the Gaza war erupted, although it has traded fire with the Lebanese Hezbollah militia.

“We’re on the edge of the cliff and we have to move away from it,” Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Foreign Secretary David Cameron made similar appeals.

Washington and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also have called for restraint.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby declined on Monday to say if Biden had urged Netanyahu in talks on Saturday night to exercise restraint in responding to Iran.

“We don’t want to see a war with Iran. We don’t want to see a regional conflict,” Kirby told a briefing, adding that it was for Israel to decide “whether and how they’ll respond”.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he was “leading a diplomatic attack” alongside Israel’s military response, writing to 32 countries to place sanctions on Iran’s missile programme and proscribe its Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organisation.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Iran’s actions threatened stability in the Middle East and could cause economic spillovers.

The U.S. would use sanctions, and work with allies, to keep disrupting Iran’s “malign and destabilising activity”, she added.

However, some analysts said the Biden administration was unlikely to seek to sharpen sanctions on Iran’s oil exports due to worries about boosting oil prices and angering top buyer China.

In a call between the Chinese and Iranian foreign ministers, China said it believed Iran could “handle the situation well and spare the region further turmoil” while safeguarding its sovereignty and dignity, according to Chinese state media.

Russia has refrained from publicly criticising its ally Iran but has also warned against further escalation.

Iran’s retaliatory attack, involving more than 300 missiles and drones, caused modest damage in Israel and wounded a 7-year-old girl.

Most missiles and drones were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system and with help from the U.S., Britain, France and Jordan.

In Gaza itself, where more than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli offensive according to Gaza health ministry figures, Iran’s action drew applause.

Israel began its campaign against Hamas, the Iranian-backed Palestinian militant group that runs Gaza, after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages, by Israeli tallies.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the Group of Seven major democracies were working on a package of coordinated measures against Iran.

Italy, which holds the rotating G7 presidency, said it was open to new sanctions and suggested any new measures would target individuals.

Iran’s attack prompted at least a dozen airlines to cancel or reroute flights, with Europe’s aviation regulator still advising caution in using Israeli and Iranian airspace. (Reuters/NAN)

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