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Germany Shuts Its Instanbul Consulate Over Security Threats

The German Consulate in Istanbul would be closed on Wednesday due to a heightened threat of attack in Turkey’s biggest city, the German Foreign Ministry said.

Germany warned its citizens in Istanbul that the risk of attack was particularly high in the central district of Beyoğlu and around the heavily trafficked Taksim Square.

The ministry said the move to close the consulate was made following “the assessment of the security authorities’’ and urged citizens to be especially vigilant and avoid crowds.

Germany, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, as well as the United States, already warned their nationals last week of an increased risk of attack in Turkey.

The U.S. tightened its warning on Monday to specify Istanbul.

Turkey, in turn, had warned its citizens of attacks in Europe and the U.S…

Tensions between Turkey and some European countries have flared over protests Ankara considers Islamophobic or anti-Turkish.

Most recently, the right-wing extremist Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan set a Koran on fire in front of a mosque in Stockholm.

He threatened to do it every week until Turkey approved Sweden’s accession to NATO.

In recent weeks, several similar actions across Europe have sparked outrage in Turkey.

Those included an effigy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan being strung up in Stockholm and Koran’s pages torn up in the Netherlands.

Sweden, along with Finland, wants to join NATO as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

All 30 current NATO members must agree to this.

Turkey and Hungary have not yet said yes.


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Indonesia Flood Death Toll Rises To 50 With 27 Missing

Rescuers recovered more bodies on Tuesday after weekend flash floods and cold lava flow on Indonesia’s Sumatra island killed at least 50 people and left another 27 missing, the country’s disaster agency said.

Hours of heavy rain caused large volcanic rocks to roll down one of Indonesia’s most active volcanos into six districts on Sumatra island Saturday evening while flooding inundated roads, homes and mosques.

Workers cleaned up damaged buildings after the deluge while rescuers deployed a thermal drone to help the search, using excavators and their bare hands to try to find survivors in the rivers and rubble.

“For the emergency response, heavy equipment has moved to clean up the disaster areas. And after this, we will go to shelters to ensure affected communities are served well,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) chief Suharyanto told reporters Tuesday.

The official, who goes by one name, raised the death toll from 44 to 50 and said 27 people were still missing and 37 had been injured. More than 3,300 people have also evacuated from the affected areas.

Authorities warned the death toll could rise further as the search for the dozens missing continued.

The search was urgent as rescuers only had a “golden time” of six days to find survivors, Suharyanto said.

Residents described the thundering noise they witnessed late Saturday when large volcanic rocks bowled down from Marapi and their fear as terrifying rains inundated their neighbourhoods.

“Now, [we are] very traumatised. Me and my family are afraid to stay there again. I feel like renting somewhere else,” said Refki Amelia, a 39-year-old mother-of-three in Agam who survived but lost her mother and niece.

Dozens of houses were swept away and rescuers said many of the victims were found in or around nearby rivers.

Workers rushed to clear and repair a damaged bridge to ease access to the area.

To aid the rescue effort, authorities said they would deploy weather modification technology that will start to work from Wednesday.

“Efforts were made so the these rain clouds would not fall at the location of the disaster,” meteorological agency chief Dwikorita Karnawati told reporters.

– Terrifying rains –

Aid deliveries were being carried out using air and land routes, some of which required emergency bridges, after the flooding and cold lava flow cut off some road access in the worst-hit areas, Suharyanto said.

BNPB spokesman Abdul Muhari on Monday said 71 houses were completely swept away and 125 were moderately damaged by the flooding and cold lava flow.

Cold lava, also known as lahar, is volcanic material such as ash, sand and pebbles carried down a volcano’s slopes by rain.

Indonesia is prone to landslides and floods during the rainy season.

In 2022, about 24,000 people were evacuated and two children were killed in floods on Sumatra island, with environmental campaigners blaming deforestation caused by logging for worsening the disaster.

Trees act as a natural defence against floods, slowing the rate at which water runs down hills and into rivers.

Marapi is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanos.

In December, it erupted and spewed an ash tower 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) into the sky, taller than the volcano itself.

At least 24 climbers, most of them university students, died in the eruption.


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Chad Junta chief, Mahamat Deby wins presidential election

Chad’s junta chief Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno won this week’s presidential election in the first round, according to provisional official results released Thursday, extending his family’s decades-long grip on power.

Monday’s vote aimed to end three years of military rule in a country crucial to the fight against jihadism across Africa’s Sahel desert region.

The ANGE electoral commission said Deby won 61.03 per cent of votes, beating Prime Minister Succes Masra, who garnered only 18.53 per cent, in results due to be confirmed by the Constitutional Council.

“I am now the elected president of all Chadians,” Deby said in a brief televised address, promising to make good on his “commitments”.

Masra had earlier claimed victory and warned Deby’s team would rig the results.

Soldiers in the N’Djamena neighbourhood where Masra’s party is based fired their guns in the air after the results were announced, both in celebration of Deby’s win and to deter protesters from gathering, AFP journalists there reported.

Some frightened people ran for cover or to their homes and the capital’s streets were soon empty.

Meanwhile, near the presidential palace in central N’Djamena, Deby’s supporters shouted, sang, sounded car horns and fired their own guns in the air in celebration, AFP reporters saw.

At least two teenagers were injured by falling bullets, an AFP journalist saw.

– Parallel count –

Supporters of Masra, a 40-year-old economist, had been holding their own ballot count in parallel to the official one, and in a speech posted on his Facebook page hours before the results were released, Masra said his team’s count “establishes the victory in the first round, that of change over the status quo”.

“The victory is resounding and without blemish,” he said.

Masra went on to say the team of Deby, who was proclaimed transitional president three years ago by the army, would soon announce that he had won and “steal the victory from the people”.

Masra, a former opposition leader appointed prime minister in January, urged Chadians to “mobilise peacefully to prove our victory”.

Thursday’s announcement was a surprise, coming nearly two weeks earlier than the scheduled release date of May 21.

Deby and Masra faced eight other candidates who were either relatively unknown or considered not hostile to the regime.

Former premier Albert Pahimi Padacke placed third with 16.91 per cent of votes in an election that saw a turnout of 75.89 per cent, ANGE chief Ahmed Bartchiret announced.

– ‘Pilot, co-pilot towards democracy’ –

Opponents had called for a boycott of the vote, dismissing it as fixed.

After announcing he would stand, Masra said he was doing so to maintain the current team of “pilot and co-pilot” in a plane headed “towards democracy” — a reference to himself and Deby.

Masra had been a fierce opponent of the regime before it named him prime minister in January after he returned from exile.

He faced accusations of being a stooge by the opposition, which has been violently repressed and its leading figures barred from standing.

Early in the campaign, observers predicted a massive win for Deby, aged 40, whose top rival was killed earlier this year.

– Ally against jihadism –

Deby was proclaimed transitional president by fellow army generals in 2021 after his father, Idriss Deby Itno, who had ruled Chad with an iron fist for 30 years, was killed in a gun battle with rebels.

Deby promised an 18-month transition to democracy but then extended it by two years.

Opposition figures have since fled, been silenced or joined forces with Deby.

Deby’s cousin and chief election rival Yaya Dillo Djerou was shot point-blank in the head by army soldiers on February 28, according to his party.

The International Federation for Human Rights had warned that the election appeared “neither credible, free nor democratic”.

The International Crisis Group also noted that “a number of problems in the run-up to the balloting cast doubt on its credibility”.

Chad has remained a firm ally of traditional security partner France, whose forces in recent years have been ousted by military regimes in former African colonies including Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

The Sahel nations are reeling from jihadist insurgencies and have strengthened ties with Russia after severing them with Paris.


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Abiodun Appoints Tunde Onakoya Sports Ambassador

L-R: Orimolusi of Ijebu-Igbo, Oba Lawrence Jayeoba Adebajo; world record holder in the longest chess marathon, Tunde Onakoya; Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun; his Deputy, Engr (Mrs.) Noimot Salako-Oyedele; Ebumawe of Ago-Iwoye, Oba Abdulrazaq Adenugba; father of the marathon chess champion, Rafiu Onakoya and his mother, Taiwo Onakoya, during a courtesy call on the governor by the marathon champion on Thursday, during which he was presented with the Model of the Gateway City Gate by the governor.

Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun has appointed Mr. Tunde Onakoya, the National Master of Chess and the current Guinness World Record Holder for the longest Chess Marathon in history, the Sports Ambassador of the State.
Governor Abiodun, who made this known on Thursday when he received Mr. Onakoya in his office at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, also announced the commencement of the State Chess Competition to be held in all parts of the state in honour of Mr. Onakoya.
Abiodun, who was impressed with the achievement of the National Chess Master at the global stage, said this could not have been possible without determination and resilience and hard work.
“I can see why you continue to be inspiration to many young people across the length and breath of this country. You have gone further by establishing a foundation called the ‘Chess in Slums Africa’ because you are determined to tell your story and encourage other children and get them out of the slums and give them hope and future.
“Today, we will be officially appointing you as our State Sports Ambassador. Coincidentally, Ogun State will be hosting the National Sports Festival in the next nine months or thereabouts and we are boasting that we are set to host the best National Sports Festival that has never been held in the history of this country and coincidentally, chess is one of the games that will feature in that event.
“I have decided that because of you and in your honour, we will begin an Ogun State Chess Competition across the length and breath of the state. Since you are now officially our Sports Ambassador and our Chess Ambassador, we will leave it to you to design that competition from the local government all the way to the state level.
“But we as your state, we will have a sponsor in the Tunde Onakoya Prize, for the winner of that competition,” the governor explained.
The governor likened the travails of the Chess Master to that of millions of youths in Nigeria who are struggling to make something out of their lives, stating that his achievements in the face of difficulties is a testimony that life does not recognize where one comes from, place of birth or parent’s status in the society.
He commended the longest Chess Marathon holder in the world, for his resolve to succeed without engaging in dubious activities, noting that with the feat, he has joined the league of illustrious sons and daughters who have done Ogun State proud in their chosen endeavours.
Mr. Onakoya had earlier told the governor of his immense gratitude for the support he received from Nigerians in his march to stardom, adding that he felt proud to be a Nigerian.
He also recalled his challenges while growing up, nothing that he saw chess as a way out of poverty and ability to think critically beyond the surface.
Onakoya acknowledged the unpopularity of chess in the country, attributing it to lack of understanding of the value of the game.
He said he has intensify efforts in making the game popular in Lagos, Kenya and other parts of Africa, saying he and his team are trying to bring the game to the grassroots in collaboration with Lufthansa Airlines.
Onakoya said he was determined to break the world record as it was said that no human had played the game beyond 56 hours, but he did it in 60 hours.
He thanked governor Abiodun for the honour done to him and his parents, pledging to work with the government to make the game attractive to the youths.
“I am proud to be a Nigerian and from Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, I felt highly honoured and happy in the way Nigerians all over the world supported me immensely to achieve this feats and the honour accorded me by our royal fathers and His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun, my state Governor,” Onakoya said.

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