BEIRUT: Lebanon has asked Interpol to issue arrest warrants for the Russian captain and owner of the ship that brought the explosive material that detonated at Beirut port in August, killing nearly 200 people, state media reported on Thursday (Oct 1).
About two months after the explosion that injured thousands and ravaged the Lebanese capital, questions remain about why and how the cargo was abandoned in Beirut.
Authorities have blamed it on the huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate, used for fertiliser but also for explosives, going up in flames after being stored in poor conditions at the port for years.
There have also been accusations of negligence against Lebanese authorities. Nearly 20 people have been detained in Lebanon after the blast including port and customs officials.
Lebanon's public prosecution asked Interpol to issue warrants to detain the owner and captain, state news agency NNA said on Thursday, without naming them.
Boris Prokoshev was captain of the Rhosus ship when it arrived in Beirut in 2013, and he had identified Igor Grechushkin, a Russian businessman in Cyprus, as the owner. A security source and a judicial source said they were the two for whom Lebanon asked for arrest warrants on Thursday.
Russia's national Interpol bureau declined to comment.
Grechushkin, 43, was questioned in Cyprus in August. Attempts by Reuters to reach Grechushkin were unsuccessful.
Cyprus police spokesman Christos Andreou said, regarding an Interpol request on Thursday: "We have not received such a request."
Prokoshev, who is in Russia, said he had not heard anything about it and that he has not been contacted by investigators before.
He has told Reuters that 2,750 tonnes of the chemicals ended up in Beirut after the ship's owner told him to divert to Beirut to pick up extra cargo in 2013. He has also said Lebanese authorities paid little attRead More – Source
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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
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