Gunmen kill 44 in mosque
Suspected Islamic militants wearing army fatigues gunned down 44 people praying at a mosque in the northeast, while another 12 civilians died in an apparently simultaneous attack, security agents said on Monday. Sunday’s attacks were the latest in a slew of violence blamed on religious extremists in the West African oil producer, where the radical Boko Haram group, which wants to oust the government and impose Islamic law, poses the greatest security threat in years. It was not immediately clear why the Islamic Boko Haram would have killed worshiping Muslims, but the group has in the past attacked mosques whose clerics have spoken out against religious extremism.
Keita wins election
Former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won the presidency after his opponent conceded defeat late on Monday in an election aimed at restoring stability to a country wracked by a rebellion, a coup and an Islamic insurgency. Soumalia Cisse’s concession averts a protracted election fight, allowing the country to move ahead with establishing a democratically elected government, one of the international community’s caveats for unlocking about US$4 billion in promised aid. Keita, who is known by his initials “IBK,” had been expected to win the runoff easily, having pulled nearly 40 percent of the vote in the first round.
The country, one of the most isolated and censored societies on the planet, has unveiled what it says is a domestically produced smartphone. However, industry analysts say the “Arirang,” built around Google’s Android OS, is likely manufactured in China. The existence of the smartphone, named after a famous Korean folk song, came to light during a factory inspection by leader Kim Jong-un at the weekend. During the tour, Kim was given a detailed briefing on the “performance, quality and packing of the Arirang hand phone,” Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency reported. Some analysts suggest the “Arirang” is aimed at getting the country’s citizens to use an officially approved smartphone that can be properly monitored. While Internet access is virtually non-existent in North Korea, which comes bottom of any media freedom survey, the country is not a complete IT desert. Cellphones were introduced in 2008 through a joint venture with the Egyptian telecom Orascom, which says there are now 2 million users.
Woman dies of H7N9
A woman infected with the H7N9 bird flu virus died of multiple organ failure, a Beijing hospital said, bringing the total fatalities from the disease to 45. The 61-year-old tested positive for the virus on July 20 after she fell ill in Hebei Province. She was taken to Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital for treatment and died on Sunday, the hospital said in a statement. A total of 134 cases have now been confirmed in the country, including one in Guangdong Province, the first there, which was reported on Saturday. Xinhua news agency said then that 44 people had died of the disease. The virus was first reported in late March, with most cases confined to the east, and only one reported outside the country, in Taiwan. Scientists reported last week the first likely case of direct person-to-person transmission of H7N9. However, they said the virus’ transmissibility remained “limited and non-sustainable.” Cases of H7N9 have dropped significantly in recent months.