Philippine Commandos Killed in Raid Over Suspected Terrorist

Philippine Commandos Killed in Raid Over Suspected Terrorist

26/Jan/2015  //  237 Viewers

MANILA—At least 43 police commandos were killed in a predawn raid on a rebel stronghold in the southern Philippines on Sunday as they pursued a most-wanted terrorist.

The killing marked the bloodiest day in many years for the Philippine security forces, and is the first major test of the fragile peace process under way in Mindanao island. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which last year agreed to lay down its arms in return for the establishment of an autonomous Muslim region, acknowledged it was part of the resistance to the raid.

The big question is why the Philippine National Police seemingly dispensed with procedure and failed to notify MILF leaders, the government or the military before launching an operation in a known MILF-controlled area, said Mohager Iqbal, the MILF’s chief negotiator during recent peace talks with the government, on Monday.

“They made a serious mistake,” Mr. Iqbal said. “Instead of solving one problem, they have created many new ones.”

An unknown number of officers were also taken hostage during the botched operation, said military spokesman Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc.

Last year’s landmark peace deal was widely regarded as a once-in-a-generation chance to end a conflict that has claimed more than 120,000 lives over several decades, as Muslim groups fought for self-determination in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.

The process was already under pressure, however, as efforts to pass the law that would set up the autonomous region have dragged on, and as several other militant groups have refused to participate.

“The peace process has now been challenged,” said Rommel Banlaoi, executive director of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research. “Above all, this indicates that the situation in Mindanao is very complicated, and that the current peace process is unlikely to end the violence.”

Units from the police’s Special Action Force arrived at the remote village of Tukanalipao in Maguindanao early Sunday, acting on information that Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, a Malaysian terrorist affiliated with the al Qaeda-linked group Jemaah Islamiyah, was hiding there, said Mr. Cabunoc.

Mr. Zulkifli is listed as a most-wanted terrorist by the FBI, which has offered $5 million for information leading to his capture. The Philippine military claimed to have killed Mr. Zulkifli during a security operation in 2012, but last year admitted that he was still active.

The Philippines’s Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II told reporters on Monday it was “highly likely” that Mr. Zulkifli had been killed in the raid. But it came at a heavy price, as at least 43 of the 392 officers involved had died in the raid, he confirmed.

PNP General Leonardo Espina said the force made “a judgment call” in not seeking military support or coordinating with MILF leaders so as to retain “the element of surprise” during the operation. These decisions would now be examined by a board of inquiry, he said.

“It’s unfortunate that people died on both sides, when it could have been prevented,” Mr. Iqbal said. “We need coordination so that we can deploy our forces away from the areas affected by the operation—we’ve done this many times before.”

Mr. Roxas said that the police officers, who were not local and didn’t know the terrain, had “inadvertently” strayed into a MILF-controlled area while withdrawing under fire from the initial location of the raid.

Captain Joanne Petinglay, spokeswoman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, which operates locally, said Mr. Zulkifli was understood to have been sheltering in Tukanalipao village with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a MILF splinter group that is boycotting the peace process.

Tukanalipao is “a very remote place, very swampy, and it’s difficult to move around in,” Ms. Petinglay said. “Armored vehicles cannot get in there. That’s why the police were at a disadvantage.”

The MILF has agreed to decommission its weapons under the terms of the peace deal, but this process has yet to begin, and the estimated 11,000 MILF fighters remain under arms.

Mr. Iqbal said the bungled police operation was already having implications for the Mindanao peace process, with the main Senate committee charged with vetting the peace deal suspending its hearings on Monday pending an inquiry into the deaths of the commandos.


East Coast braces, flights canceled as 'historic' blizzard bears down

East Coast braces, flights canceled as 'historic' blizzard bears down

26/Jan/2015  //  231 Viewers

(Reuters) - The East Coast of the U.S. from Philadelphia to New York City to Maine braced on Monday for a potentially historic blizzard that forecasters say could dump up to 3 feet (90 cm) of snow on the region and snarl transportation for tens of millions of people.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a blizzard warning for the northern section of the East Coast from Monday afternoon, putting states from New Jersey to Indiana under winter storm watches and advisories until Tuesday. Airlines canceled nearly 1,800 flights.

"This could be the biggest snowstorm in the history of this city," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference on Sunday afternoon, saying the snowfall could reach up to 3 feet.

De Blasio told residents of America's financial capital and most populous city to stay off the roads and to "prepare for something worse than we have seen before."

The biggest snowfall on record in New York City came during the storm of Feb. 11-12, 2006, dropping 26.9 inches (68 cm), according to the city's Office of Emergency Management.

The NWS called the approaching system a "crippling and potentially historic blizzard," with many areas along the East Coast expected to be blanketed by 12 inches to 24 inches (30-60 cm) of snow. The New York City area could be the hardest hit, with lashing winds and snowfall of 30 inches (76 cm) or more in some suburbs.

Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) said on Sunday it was canceling 600 flights because of the blizzard warning for the East Coast, while United Airlines (UAL.N) will cancel all Tuesday flights at airports in New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

The carrier will limit operations beginning on Monday night at Newark, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports in the New York area, a spokeswoman said.

Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) said Sunday evening it would cancel more than 130 of 3,410 flights scheduled for Monday due to the storm, an increase from its earlier plan to cancel about 20 flights.

American Airlines (AAL.O) said cancellation plans would not be finalized until Monday morning but that it expected "quite a few" flights to be affected. Flight-tracking website showed 1,792 flights canceled for Monday as of Sunday night.

Cities along the heavily populated East Coast had snow plows and trucks on standby to dispense road salt.

Dokubo Is A Cowardly Terrorist

Dokubo Is A Cowardly Terrorist

26/Jan/2015  //  238 Viewers

As quoted in PremiumTimes, Asari Dokubo said “We are going to war. Everyone of you should go and fortify yourself.” In a meeting of terrorists and associates held in Yenagoa Saturday, the enemy of the state and other desperate folk, threatened Nigeria that if their premiere didn’t win the February 14th presidential elections, they will go to war.

Asari Dokubo is a terrorist; and a cowardly one.  If he were not a coward and he really believed he owned the oil underneath his father’s house, he would have taken what is his and not preoccupied himself being a loud, empty barrel.

If you’re a terrorist, be a terrorist.  Real terrorists don’t make noise.  Real men don’t talk, they do.  Why has Asari waited so long?  What is he waiting for?  If I believe something belongs to me, I will take it, legally or otherwise, I will not wait and keep opening my big mouth, making loud empty threats.

Dokubo’s brother in Sambisa is not a coward.  Shekau believes he owns (wants to own) the land of the northeast and he’s going for it, come rain, come shine.  NSA Dasuki said in UK last week, that Shekau is linked to the Idriss Deby.  Shekau is going for the land every day and is not waiting, making empty threats.  He’s a real terrorist, not ashamed of his evil profession.  Though Shekau doesn’t do the fighting, he relies on recruiting and forcefully conscripting Kanuri, Shuwa Arab and Fulani youth in the northeast to do his dirty bidding, he does it.

Asari did not accept the amnesty.  He didn’t sign it, which means he is still an active terrorist and still at war with the state.  So the question is—why has he not been fighting?  What has he been waiting for?  He is a coward.  He should be thankful to Jonathan, whose number one (and only) legacy is freedom, freedom for thieves, freedom for killers, freedom for terrorists, and of course freedom for cowards.

But yet, I must commend Asari, because he is honest. He has told us clearly that he only supports Jonathan because he feels Jonathan is from his hometown.  He has stated unequivocally that he is sure that “that Fulani man,” General Buhari would have done more for the Niger delta than Jonathan has done.  He’s honest enough to say that he only supports Jonathan out of his desperation for cash and because of his village (“monkey no fine but hin mama like am,” he said).  Many people are not as honest as he is.  The president for one isn’t.  The barbarian Shekau also isn’t.  They hide their true purpose and goals, and pretend, enshrouded in lies.  Asari says it as it is.  He says the president is clueless and I am hungry.

Of what use is it that a man gains the riches of the world and loses his soul?

I pity Asari, because Jonathan has disgraced and uselessed him.  Asari is unarguably intelligent and humorous-clownish. He could have been a respected figure not just locally and nationally, but globally.  Had Obasanjo picked an at least manageable candidate from the Niger delta, he would have been able to get his bread and keep his name.  But now he has shamed himself, and disgraced his family name.  He’s an object of ridicule.  A chief soldier of the Clueless General.  A disciple of the Okrika jesus. A Fani-Kayode.

You remind me of my three year old nephew: “don’t talk to me; I am not your friend.” “You must vote for him or I am taking “my” oil.” Take “your oil” but make sure you take your “monkey wey no fine” with you and tuck him in bed. Or he tucks you in bed… whichever it is. We ‘bout to put our country back on the map, man. Shame nor dey catch you? Whatever did the people of Baga do to you? Did they ever smell or utilize oil that you believe they must die and millions of Nigerians must keep on suffering? Oil drunkard.

If you were not a coward, why did you not go to Sambisa and show us your muscle by rescuing our daughters so you would become a national hero and we would have even made you our president?

Disgrace to the Kalabari kingdom and the brave Amachree Kings.


May 29 Handover Date Sacrosanct, Says Jonathan

May 29 Handover Date Sacrosanct, Says Jonathan

26/Jan/2015  //  245 Viewers

President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday said  the May 29 handover date remained sacrosanct….

According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the President gave the assurance during a closed-door meeting with the United States Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, at the State House, Marina, Lagos.
The statement was signed by the President.
He said he had what he called “a candid and constructive discussion” about a broad range of issues with his guest.
The president said he emphasised to Kerry that he was deeply committed to ensuring that the elections were free, fair and credible.
He added that he also promised his guest that his government would provide all resources that were required by the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct hitch-free elections.
Jonathan said, “I emphasised to Secretary Kerry that I am deeply committed to ensuring that our forthcoming election is free, fair, and credible.
“It is especially critical that all political parties abide by the Abuja Accord, which commits each to non-violence before, during, and after the election.
“I made it absolutely clear that the May 29th handover date is sacrosanct.
“In addition, the government will provide all resources that are required by the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure that the election goes smoothly.
“I also emphasized that INEC is an independent body, which makes its own decisions without any interference from the government.”
The President said he was grateful to the US for standing with Nigeria and its people in the nation’s fight against Boko Haram.
He said he reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to working together with the US to put an end to global terrorism and particularly Boko Haram.
He promised that Nigeria would also work to deepen and consolidate on its bilateral relationship with the US.
The President described Nigeria as a vibrant democracy and the largest trading partner of the US in Africa with over $18bn in bilateral trade



Japan Works to Obtain Release of Surviving Hostage

Japan Works to Obtain Release of Surviving Hostage

25/Jan/2015  //  204 Viewers

Japan on Sunday stood by its policy to refuse terrorist demands after a video showed one of two Japanese captives held by Islamic State had been beheaded.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed that his highest priority is saving the life of the remaining hostage, journalist Kenji Goto.

Mr. Abe said on public broadcaster NHK that he had spoken with Jordan’s King Abdullah about the hostages, part of a flurry of calls in which Japan, which has little political engagement in the region, has sought the help of better-connected foreign leaders.

Mr. Abe also said it was highly likely the latest video was authentic. In it, Mr. Goto held a photo showing what appeared to be the decapitated head and body of Haruna Yukawa, a self-described military contractor.

A voice described as Mr. Goto’s read a statement saying the militants were now demanding the release of a prisoner held in Jordan in place of their earlier $200 million ransom demand.

SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that tracks and analyzes terrorist groups, said the recording, which played over a still image of Mr. Goto in shackles, first appeared on Twitter accounts linked to Islamic State.

Mr. Abe and President Barack Obama spoke for 10 minutes Sunday after the video was released. Mr. Abe told the president that “Japan will never give in to terrorism” and said Tokyo was putting all its efforts into securing Mr. Goto’s release, according to a Japanese government statement.

The White House said Mr. Obama, who is visiting India, expressed his condolences over Mr. Yukawa’s apparent death and thanked Japan for its humanitarian assistance to the Middle East.

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said Sunday the U.S. wouldn’t negotiate with terrorists holding the Japanese journalist. “We don’t pay ransoms because that cash then fuels further kidnappings, which just continue to exacerbate the problem,” Mr. McDonough told Fox News Sunday.

The hostage crisis comes during an effort by Mr. Abe to restyle Japan as a more muscular political actor on the global stage. At a parliament session beginning Monday, he plans to introduce legislation that would make it easier for Japanese forces to come to the aid of allies such as the U.S. in regional conflicts threatening Japan’s security.

But unlike the U.S., which has carried out airstrikes to check the spread of Islamic State, Japan has said its involvement in the Middle East is nonmilitary.

Speaking in Cairo on Jan. 17, Mr. Abe offered $200 million in humanitarian aid to address the Islamic State threat. Tokyo was surprised when Islamic State militants demanded $200 million in ransom for the two captives in a video on Jan. 20, giving the Japanese government 72 hours to pay.

The latest video appeared shortly before midnight Tokyo time. Mr. Abe and top officials rushed to the prime minister’s office for an emergency cabinet meeting that took place early Sunday.

In the video, which differed from the group’s past video threats in that it contained no active footage, the voice of Mr. Goto said the militants wanted the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, who faces death by hanging for her botched role in the 2005 hotel bombings in Amman, Jordan, that killed 60 people.

“It is simple: You give them Sajida, and I will be released,” Mr. Goto said.

He also referred to the presence of a Japanese deputy foreign minister in Amman who has been coordinating efforts to seek the hostages’ release: “Our government representatives are ironically in Jordan, where their sister Sajida is held prisoner by the Jordanian regime.”

Chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga on Sunday declined to say how Japan would respond to the new demand but said Tokyo wouldn’t give in to terrorists.

The demand for Ms. Rishawi’s release is unusual since she and her husband, one of the suicide bombers who killed himself and dozens of others in the Amman attack, are thought to have ties to al Qaeda, a rival group to Islamic State.

Jordan’s Ministry of Information refused to comment. But Ms. Rishawi could be leverage Jordan can use in negotiations to free First Lt. Muath al-Kasasbeh, the Jordanian fighter pilot captured by the Islamic State in December.

“Al-Rishawi is a winning card Jordan can negotiate [with],” said Marwan Shehadeh, an Amman-based analyst with knowledge Islamic groups. By asking for her release, Islamic State “wants to relay a message” he said, that they have principles and aren’t just after money.

A friend of Mr. Goto said he believed the voice in the English-language recording was that of the journalist. “His voice sounded very coarse. He mentioned his wife’s name, which we haven’t heard openly,” said Junpei Yasuda, a Tokyo-based freelance journalist. “It’s very sad.”

Mr. Yukawa’s father told NHK he still hoped everything was a mistake. “I am filled with grief,” he said.

As in previous Islamic State execution videos, Mr. Goto’s scripted remarks levied blame for the death of Mr. Yukawa on the hostage’s home government.

But Saturday’s recording didn’t feature a masked militant with a British accent who demanded the ransom from Japan in the first video and who had threatened Western governments in earlier hostage cases.

Buhari requests apology from Mark, Presidency for alleging he masterminded attack on Jonathan

Buhari requests apology from Mark, Presidency for alleging he masterminded attack on Jonathan

25/Jan/2015  //  227 Viewers

By Ugonnabo Ngwu

For alleging that he sponsored those who recently attacked the President’s convoy, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.), has requested an unreserved apology from the presidency, Senate President David Mark and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following the disclosure by Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State that those who attacked President Goodluck Jonathan’s convoy in his State were actually of the PDP.

The Presidency and national leadership of PDP had alleged that Buhari and his party, the APC, sponsored their supporters to pelt stones on President Jonathan’s convoy when he took his campaign to Katsina and Bauchi States. They claimed the presidential flag bearer masterminded the attacks in spite of the peace pact he signed on peaceful conduct before, during and after the elections.

But Governor Yuguda, who belongs to the PDP, in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service yesterday, said the incident was pre-arranged by Abuja politicians from the State to tarnish his reputation before President Jonathan, saying “I am sure and let the world know that the people who did this thing were PDP members and those politicians in Abuja were the ones behind it; they were not APC members.”

Consequent upon the revelation, Buhari, in a statement issued by the Director, Media and Publicity of his campaign organization, Malam Garba Shehu, said the admission by Governor Yuguda that the incident was engineered by PDP members had absolved the presidential candidate and his party of any blames.

His statement reads in part, “It has always been said that the incidents that have manifested themselves in the electioneering process were act of the PDP on PDP violence, arising from their mismanaged primaries. Governor Yuguda’s admission is a confirmation of the position of our party and our candidate that they have no hand whatsoever in these dastardly attacks.

“Now that Yuguda has admitted that these attacks were hatched and executed by fellow PDP members, we demand an immediate retraction and apology from the Senate President David Mark; the Political Adviser to the President, Professor Alkali; the PDP leadership and their presidential campaign council, who have unjustly made our party and its presidential candidate their whipping boys over this unfortunate incident. We commend Isa Yuguda’s candour expressed through this open admission,” the statement added.

Source: (GR)

Reading The Riot Act To Extremist Groups And Rogue Regimes

Reading The Riot Act To Extremist Groups And Rogue Regimes

25/Jan/2015  //  292 Viewers

By Iyoha John Darlington
Opinion – The world is today up against  the dangers of imminent annihilation. Extremist groups have risen here and there creating a new world order and those who refuse to heed their diabolic whims and caprices are made to do so by force of arms. We are in a state of global anarchy with rogue regimes tacitly advocating illegal, violent and other extreme action. The Supra National Authority domiciled in New York, USA appears to be outliving its usefulness as proclamations emanating from there  are often  treated with disdain by some member countries. Into what dangers will this lead the world if one may ask?
Sometime last year on July 17 to be precise  everyone would recall  that a passenger plane was shot out of the sky in the ongoing political impasse and annexation of Crimea in the  embattled Ukraine by detachments of rebel  militia probably acting on orders from the Kremlin killing everyone on board.   This harrowing incident  only raised a big hue and cry among world leaders  without bringing  the perpetrators of that heinous crime to justice. Russia’s ignominious  role in international crimes  today earns her a horrible international image. With its vast sophisticated nuke arsenal,  she commits horrifying illegalities  with no country powerful enough to call her to order. With over 1,800 nukes on high alert   strategically atop long-range ballistic missile  stationed and positioned to be shot into the territory of its arch enemy, the United States and beyond  the world risks  the danger of global conflagration , one of the reasons the former exercises restraint in the face of every agonising provocation.
Iran has refused to suspend uranium enrichment in its mad quest for the bomb.  Crushing economic sanctions from the West  descended on the Islamic Republic, but she remains undeterred by sanctions  its desire to becoming important and powerful on the world stage. Sufficient evidence abounds  that she is building the bomb, but she insists that there is no military dimension to her nuclear programme. One had thought the coming of Hassan  Rouhane will ameliorate the strained American-Iranian  relations, but little did the world know he would be toeing the line of his immediate past predecessor because  as things stand the ongoing intransigence, implacable arrogance and standoff with the West particularly the United States will last  many decades all things considered.
There is no denying the fact that Iran has been caught red-handed in terror-linked activities calling to mind the backing she gives to Hamas. She has repeatedly threatened to wipe out Israel from the surface of the earth in her empty, meaningless rhetoric. Fortunately or unfortunately there is no one to call the rogue regime to order considering the danger she poses to the region and in fact the whole world.
In Syria and Iraq, for instance, we are faced yet with another huge problem by a Jihadist movement which is unleashing terror on defenceless civilians. Scores of people have been massacred by the ISIS having  extended their campaign to other parts of the world. The world faces the danger of imminent annihilation if every machinery is not put in place now  to stop the Islamic State militants who reports say have embarked on global Jihadist movement with their weapons of mass destruction hanging over our heads like the ancient sword of Damocles. No fewer than twelve people including journalists and policemen were slaughtered in Paris, France the other day which sparked off global outrage.
The rogue regime of North Korea tacitly backed by Communist China often threatens to attack the most powerful country in the world – the USA. She has transmuted into a holy terror in the region with ballistic  missile to hit neighbouring South Korea which speak volumes for the latter frequent military drill in the event of any attack. In its numerous acts of provocations,  she torpedoed South Korean ship killing all crew members on board. Heinous as the crime appeared at the period under sad review she went scot-free with only criticisms which she did not give two hoots about.
In Africa’s biggest democracy and largest economy, Nigeria the situation is better imagined than real. Politicians have transmuted themselves into terror machines to wrestle power from the ruling party. The ruling party on its part is being frustrated at every turn and oftentimes chided by bigoted critics  for handling  the situation in a tough and decisive way to nip their nefarious activities in the bud. Indecision and inaction are used to severely criticise the government. Part of Nigeria’s territory has been ceded to Boko Haram through the agency of saboteurs within the Nigerian military to make the President appear incompetent and incapable of dealing with the crisis on ground, a calculated gimmick to gain votes, unseat the ruling party and return power to the north.
Be that as it may, there is nothing wrong with doing this under a fair contest but it must not be at the cost of human lives because no fewer than  fifteen thousand people have been killed by the Islamist militants Boko Haram since the uprising began in northeastern Nigeria. It is a thousand pities saboteurs within the Nigerian military have made Nigeria – a  military power to be reckoned with  in the sub-Saharan Africa calling to mind her peace-keeping operations  around the globe – weak and  appears incapable of defending her own territory. This is a grave injustice that needs to be urgently addressed considering the insurgency which still rages like wildfire killing Nigerians in their hundreds and thousands in the embattled northern province.

Iyoha John Darlington, aka Lington Donovan a social activist, political analyst and public commentator on national and global issues writes from Turin, Italy.



Source: (GR)

Akinjide Rallies Oyo Heavywieghts For Jonathan’s Victory

Akinjide Rallies Oyo Heavywieghts For Jonathan’s Victory

25/Jan/2015  //  243 Viewers

 Determined to ensure victory for President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the next month’s general elections, the Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, Oloye Olajumoke
Akinjide has rallied eminent leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) including two former governors, a former minister, seven former governorship aspirants and top professionals in Oyo state to work for the re election of the President.

Consequently, Oloye Akinjide who is also the State Coordinator for the President Goodluck Campaign Organization has created six directorates headed by top politicians, the best of the state and others, with clearly defined goals and deliverables.

Renowned Professor of Agriculture and seasoned politician, Professor Soji Adejumo is in charge of the Strategy, Planning and Research Directorate while political tactician and former Deputy Governor of the state, Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi will work round the clock reaching all the nooks and
crannies of the state as the Director of Campaign and Logistics.

Professor Taoheed Adedoja, an accomplished administrator, a former Minister and former governorship candidate heads the Administration and Finance Directorate.

To mobilize the youths, women and all categories of people in the state is the upwardly mobile business icon, Engineer Femi Babalola serving as the Director for Contact and Mobilization and highly revered General Raji Alagbe Razaki, a former Governor of Lagos and Ogun States is the Director of Security.

According to a statement issued in Ibadan today by the Director of Communications, Media and Publicity Directorate for the organization, Alhaji Kehinde Olaosebikan, the engagement of the heavyweights of the state in the campaign organization underscores the seriousness and great importance Oloye Akinjide and the party attach to the elections.

Olaosebikan disclosed that the organization had already commenced an all inclusive campaign that would guarantee good victory for President Goodluck Jonathan, Senator Teslim Folarin and all the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party in Oyo State.

“Ours is issue based and campaign specific. It is Operation Total Victory for PDP in Oyo State.  President Goodluck Jonathan will win overwhelmingly. It will be clean, distinct, targeted and successful”  
Olaosebikan declared.

After first significant snowfall, another storm on tap for Monday

After first significant snowfall, another storm on tap for Monday

25/Jan/2015  //  235 Viewers

After the season’s first major snowfall left some areas of Massachusetts with up to 9 inches of snow Saturday, residents are now bracing for a potentially major storm expected to arrive Monday evening.

That storm will probably intensify quickly and bring strong winds and a significant accumulation of snow, said Eleanor Vallier-Talbot, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton. She could not estimate how many inches of snow would fall, but urged people to watch developments.

“Everyone should pay attention to this pretty closely, because there is the potential for this to be a very strong storm with a lot of snow,” she said.

William Babcock, another National Weather Service meteorologist, said late Saturday that the storm could make getting to work more difficult.

“Potentially both commutes on Tuesday, morning and evening, could be affected,” he said.

Highs will be in the mid-20s Monday in Boston, Vallier-Talbot said, and temperatures will drop to about 20 degrees overnight, then stay in the low 20s Tuesday, which is below normal for the season.

Saturday’s snow had ended in most of the Bay State by mid-evening and eventually was expected to leave behind as much as 8 inches near the Interstate 495 belt and about 5 1/2 inches in Boston, where it began falling around 5 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

As of 10 p.m., about 9 inches of snow was reported in Lunenberg. Closer to Boston, 6 inches had fallen in Chelsea, 3 1/2 inches in Peabody, and about 7 1/2 inches in Shrewsbury, according to the National Weather Service website.

“There’s still some light snow out over Cape Cod and the islands,” Babcock said just before 10 p.m. “It’s trending downward there, too.”

With temperatures hovering near the freezing point throughout the afternoon, precipitation alternated between snow and rain, meteorologist Bill Simpson said.

The snow prompted officials to cancel SAT exams at 13 high schools across the state, according to the College Board website. Makeup exams will be administered on Feb. 7.

But on Boston Common, children and adults enjoyed the snow.

Alan Lea, 31, of Arlington, Texas, pushed Vera Johnston, 32, down a hill on a blue sled. The newly engaged couple was visiting Boston and excited to see the snow.

“We went searching for a sled,” said Johnston. Lea said the snow had hardened after the rainfall, but that made it “good for sledding.”

A few yards away, sisters Ella and Rose Baker, 3 and 5, were sledding with help from their parents, Amber and Graham, of Somerville.

Wearing matching blue snow jackets, Ella and Rose jumped on their sled, counting “one, two, three” in unison, before Graham pushed them down the hill. The girls giggled all the way down.

As soon as the girls got to the Common, they wanted to play in the snow.

“They wanted to make snow angels immediately,” said their mom.

The Common was dotted with snowmen of varying sizes and people of all ages, sledding or just enjoying the wintry scene.

On highways across Massachusetts, state transportation officials had 2,741 pieces of plowing and spreading equipment in operation, according to spokesman MassDOT Mike Verseckes. The speed limit on the Massachusetts Turnpike was reduced to 55 miles per hour from the New York line to Boston, except for the stretch between Exits 6 and 11, where it was reduced to 40 miles per hour.

A Cranston, R.I., man was killed after he lost control of his vehicle on Interstate 495 in Hopkinton around at 1:40 p.m., according to State Police. A tractor-trailer driver behind the victim’s vehicle attempted to slow down when he saw what was happening, but he collided with the vehicle.

The victim, identified as Makthra Men, 23, by the Middlesex District Attorney’s office, was transported to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the tractor-trailer, a 33-year-old man from Northborough, was not injured.

Though the highway was slushy at the time, it was not clear if the crash was weather-related, according to State Police Trooper Dustin Fitch.

Earlier in the day, there were several other tractor-trailer crashes on the Turnpike and I-495, said Fitch, but no serious injuries were reported.

Near I-495, the snow continued to be wet and heavy Saturday night, causing slippery conditions for drivers, according to Simpson. Snow was drier and fluffier in the western part of the state.

Scattered power outages affected relatively few National Grid customers, including some in Wrentham, where about 90 homes were without power at 10 p.m., according to the utility’s website.

At that time, about 330 NStar customers were without power due to a series of small outages that stretched from Sudbury to Marshfield.

The state will get a brief break Sunday before snow returns Monday.

Sunday will be relatively “nice,” Simpson said, with sunny skies and a high of 37.

The amount of snow expected in a typical January is about 20 inches, said Simpson, and if Monday’s storm leaves a significant accumulation, the city could reach that figure.


Jonathan Promises Peace as 15 Die in Northeast Nigeria Raid

Jonathan Promises Peace as 15 Die in Northeast Nigeria Raid

25/Jan/2015  //  249 Viewers

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan promised to restore peace to the country’s northeast on his re-election campaign trail, a day after suspected Boko Haram militants raided a village, killing 15 people.

“I am promising the whole of you that we shall surely end this insurgency,” Jonathan said at Murtala Ramat Square in the Borno state capital of Maiduguri. “We will surely stop Boko Haram and return Borno to the path of peace.”

About three miles (4.8 kilometers) from Maiduguri, suspected Boko Haram militants raided the village of Kambari on Friday, killing the village leader, at least two children and 12 others, said a vigilante leader Hassan Ibrahim by phone from Maiduguri. Jonathan, who is seeking re-election next month, didn’t mention the attack.

Boko Haram has unleashed a violent campaign since 2009 to impose Islamic law in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, killing more than 13,000 people, Jonathan said in September. More than 980,000 people have been displaced by the violence, according to Nigeria’s National Management Agency.

“They shot my children dead,” Memunat Yusuf, who fled to Maiduguri from Kambari, said by phone.