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  • NY attack 'in name of IS,' Trump vows visa crackdown

    he Uzbek who killed eight people in New York acted in the name of the Islamic State group, police confirmed Wednesday, as the US president vowed to scrap the visa program that allowed him to enter the country.

    Tuesday's attack, which mowed down pedestrians and cyclists at high speed on Lower Manhattan's West Side, was the deadliest attack blamed on terrorism in America's financial capital since the September 11, 2001 hijackings.

    While 29-year-old suspect Sayfullo Saipov had not previously been the subject of an FBI investigation, police confirmed he had planned the attack for weeks.

    Saipov, who moved to America legally in March 2010, rented a pickup truck in New Jersey without suspicion, before driving into New York, mounting a bike path and unleashing mayhem as children and their parents prepared to celebrate Halloween.

    Five of the dead were Argentines, visiting for a school reunion. A Belgian woman was also killed. Of 12 injured, nine remain in hospital -- four in a critical but stable condition. One Argentine, a German and three Belgians, were among the injured.

    The suspect was shot in the abdomen by a police officer after he crashed into a school bus and exited his truck, brandishing paintball and pellet guns. He has been interviewed in hospital and remains in custody, police said.

    "He did this in the name of ISIS," John Miller, the head of New York police intelligence and counter-terrorism, told a news conference.

    - Animal -

    "He appears to have followed almost exactly to a 't' the instructions that ISIS has put out in its social media channels before with instructions to their followers on how to carry out such an attack," Miller added.

    Vehicle rammings have been a frequent tactic deployed by IS sympathizers in the West, including in Barcelona, London, Stockholm and in Nice, where a Tunisian suicide truck bomber killed 86 people on Bastille Day last year.

    Police said it was too early to determine when Saipov may have become radicalized, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said it happened after he moved to the United States. He is not a US citizen but a legal permanent resident.

    AFP / St. Charles County Dept. of CorrectionsSayfullo Saipov, the suspected driver who killed eight people in New York, mowing down cyclists and pedestrians, before striking a school bus in what officials branded a 'cowardly act of terror'

    Trump, confronting the worst jihadist-inspired attack of his 10 months in office, denounced Saipov as an "animal" and charged that he had been a point of contact for up to 23 immigrants or would-be immigrants, quipping that he "would certainly consider" sending him to Guantanamo Bay.

    The Republican president said that he was "starting the process of terminating" the popular green card lottery, which he said had enabled Saipov to enter the country.

    "We have to do what's right to protect our citizens," the Republican president told reporters. "We will get rid of this lottery program as soon as possible."

    The 1990 program awards US permanent resident visas to around 50,000 applicants around the world each year, opening the door as well for members of their wider families to follow them, so-called chain migration.

    Trump has already slashed the country's annual refugee intake by more than 50 percent, tightened visa issuance around the world and attempted to ban travelers from 11 countries, most of them with Muslim-majority populations, but not Uzbekistan.

    "We also have to come up with punishment that's far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now," the president said.

    Saipov lived in Florida and Ohio, before moving to Paterson, a former industrial hub in New Jersey about 20 miles (30 kilometers) northeast of New York, where he lived with his wife and three children. The truck was rented in New Jersey.

    - 'Scary' -

    Neighbors in the working-class, immigrant community reacted with shock and horror on Wednesday, saying that they knew little about the man who kept to himself.

    "It's a very quiet neighborhood. We leave our doors unlocked. We thought we were pretty safe, but to know that someone like that lives down the street is scary," said Kimberly Perez, 20, who lives across the street.

    In New York, leaders vowed that the annual marathon would go ahead as planned on Sunday. Police said the event, which attracts more than 50,000 runners and 2.5 million spectators, would be the most protected ever.

    "We will not be cowed, we will not be thrown off by anything," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

    While officials say preliminary evidence suggests Saipov acted alone and was not part of a wider plot, Cuomo has drastically stepped up security at airports, tunnels and Penn Station, which he called the busiest rail hub in the hemisphere.

    Uzbekistan, a majority Muslim country that borders Afghanistan and formerly part of the Soviet Union, is a landlocked country racked with poverty, corruption and a stifling authoritarian regime.

    In less than a year, three other men with Uzbek links have been blamed for a deadly nightclub shooting in Istanbul, a Saint Petersburg metro bombing and Stockholm attack.

    In March 2015, two Uzbeks and a Kazakh living in New York were arrested on charges of supporting IS. One of them, who threatened former president Barack Obama, was sentenced to 15 years in prison last week

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  • Eritrea protest aftermath: military makes arrests, internet cut reported

    Eritrean authorities have made arrests following Tuesday’s rare protest in the capital, Asmara. The BBCTigrinya service said the military carried out overnight swoops where an undisclosed number of people were rounded up.

    Security forces fired gunshots to disperse protesting students who were resisting government involvement in affairs of their school reports say.

    The Diae Al Islam school is a community-funded institution whose leadership, parents and students have all kicked against attempts to regulate the school.

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  • 26 Togolese arrested in Ghana for staging illegal protest

    Twenty-six Togolese nationals have been arrested in Ghana for organising a protest in the capital Accra without notifying the authorities.

    The protesters were arrested on Saturday after converging at a park in solidarity with Togolese opposition supporters demanding the resignation of Faure Gnassingbe and the reinstatement of Togo’s 1992 constitution.

    The Ghana police spokesperson Afia Tenge told local media that their convergence without notification was a clear breach of the public order act.

    “Two of their leaders and a number of them were arrested. We have about 26 of them and we are waiting for Monday to put these persons before the law court,” she said.

    Two of their leaders and a number of them were arrested. We have about 26 of them and we are waiting for Monday to put these persons before the law court.

    Ghana is reported to have registered 513 Togolese asylum seekers who fled from the chaos into border towns including Chereponi, Zabzugu and Bunkpurugu-Yunyuo in northern Ghana.

    Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway told local media Citi FM that consultations are ongoing with the Togolese government on the crisis in the country.

    Togo faced a series of opposition demonstrations since August in demand for the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe and the reinstatement of the 1992 constitution.

    The intended peaceful demonstrations resulted in the killing of at least 16 people after clashes with security forces who fired tear gas and live bullets to disperse the protesters.

    The opposition are also calling for a two five-year term limit for presidents as well as a two-round voting system.

    A bill was tabled before parliament by the cabinet during the early September round of demonstrations to reinstate the term limits which were struck out by the father of Faure Gnassingbe before his death.

    The opposition rejected the draft bill to modify Article 59 of the constitution which has maintained the exclusion of the clause that says “no one can serve more than two terms”.

    They believe it is a ploy to allow Faure, who is serving his third term, to attempt a fourth in 2020.

    The government banned weekday demonstrations yet the protesters defied the ban and stormed the streets last week resulting in further clashes.

    The six-party opposition coalition (CAP 2015) and the Pan-African National Party (PNP) have called for another series of demonstrations on November 7, 8 and 9 – which are weekdays – despite the ban on weekday protests.

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  • Kenyatta wins 'chaotic' repeat poll with over 98%

    The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Monday declared incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta as winner of the poll re-run ordered by the Supreme Court.

    Deaths were recorded amid running battles between opposition members and the security forces as Kenyans returned to the polls to elect their president.

    The process was boycotted by the main opposition, NASA coalition led by former Prime Minister, Raila Amolo Odinga.

    Odinga called on all his supporters to “hold vigil and prayers away from polling stations”. That admonition has not been heeded as supporters continue to engage police in running battles.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta has on the other hand called on Kenyans to come out and vote. He said Kenya has underlined its democratic credentials with the process warning against tribal politics.

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  • Trump calls for death penalty for NY attacker

    President Donald Trump called Thursday for the man charged over the New York truck attack to be executed, as a picture emerged of an Islamic State group sympathizer radicalized after struggling with life in America.

    Trump had said he was considering sending Sayfullo Saipov, 29, to the military's notorious Guantanamo Bay detention center, but backed off the idea in a blast of early morning tweets calling for the death penalty.

    "Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system," Trump tweeted.

    "There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!"

    Saipov appeared in a New York courtroom Wednesday on terrorism charges one day after he allegedly drove a rented pickup truck down a mile-long stretch of bike path in Manhattan, where children and their parents were preparing to celebrate Halloween.

    Eight people were killed, five of them friends from Argentina celebrating 30 years since their high school graduation.

    Twelve other people were wounded in the worst attack in New York since the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda hijackings. It ended when police shot Saipov in the abdomen.

    AFP / Jewel SAMADThe Home Depot pickup truck used in the attack

    Federal prosecutors have announced two charges so far: provision of material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and violence and destruction of motor vehicles.

    The maximum punishment is life imprisonment, but attorneys could potentially seek the death penalty. A capital punishment case would be extremely rare in New York.

    The charging document said Saipov, an Uber driver and father-of-three who emigrated in 2010, confessed to acting in the name of IS and "felt good about what he had done," even demanding to hang an IS flag in his hospital room.

    He first planned an attack in the United States a year ago, before settling two months ago on a vehicle strike, choosing Halloween deliberately in a bid to kill as many people as possible, the complaint alleged.

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