Gunmen abduct Pakistan ex-PM Gilani’s son at election rally


May 10, 2013

Source: virginislandsnewsonline.com

BBC World – Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani says his son has been kidnapped by unidentified gunmen during an election rally.

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Mr Gilani told the BBC his son Ali Haider – a candidate for the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) – was seized in the central city of Multan. He accused his political opponents of being behind the attack, which came ahead of Saturday’s elections. One person was reportedly killed when the attackers opened fire at the rally. No group has so far claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack.

Taliban threats 

Eyewitnesses say the gunmen arrived at the gathering in a black Honda car and a motorbike.”A couple of them started shooting,” a teenager at the rally told Pakistan’s Geo TV.

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Musa Gilani: “If we don’t get my brother by this evening, I will not let the election happen”

“A man standing in front of Gilani was hit and fell down. Then they grabbed Gilani, put him in the car and sped away.” Reports say the person who died in the shooting could have been Ali Haider Gilani’s bodyguard or secretary. Another five people were injured. Eyewitnesses say a bullet also hit Ali Haider and he was bleeding when the kidnappers put him in the car, Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper reports.

Ali Haider – the youngest son of the ex-prime minister – is contesting a seat in the Punjab provincial assembly. “We want our brother back tonight. If we don’t get him, we will not allow elections to be held in our area,” his elder brother Ali Musa – who was in tears – later told reporters.

Police have now sealed off all entry and exit point in Multan, and a massive search operation is under way, local media report.

Yousuf Raza Gilani served as prime minister until June 2012, when he was forced out of office by the Supreme Court over his refusal to pursue a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari. But it is still a powerful political family, with Mr Gilani’s sons standing in the elections to the provincial and national assemblies, the BBC’s Mike Wooldridge in Islamabad says.

Sharif’s pledge

The run-up to the 11 May elections has been marred by a series of attacks across the country in which more than 100 people have been killed. The Pakistani Taliban have threatened to prevent the PPP, the Awami National Party (ANP) as well the MQM party, from conducting their election campaigns because they are considered by the militants to be too secular. The military has pledged to deploy tens of thousands of troops to polling stations on Saturday to prevent further attacks.

In a separate development, Nawaz Sharif – the man tipped to be Pakistan’s next prime minister – promised to end the country’s involvement in the US-led war on terror if elected. Mr Sharif – who leads the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) – told the BBC the move was necessary for there to be peace in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world.

Pakistan has been part of the US-led fight against Islamist militancy in the region since the 11 September attacks in the US in 2001. Mr Sharif’s remarks may cause concern among Western leaders, the BBC’s Orla Guerin reports from Islamabad. However, Mr Sharif – who served as prime minister twice in the 1990s – declined to say whether he would stop military operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan – another leading Pakistani politician – is continuing to recover in hospital after falling off a makeshift lift at an election rally earlier this week. Doctors say that the former cricketer who leads the Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party – received stitches in the head and treatment for injuries to his spine.

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Europol : Mexican cartels gain ground in European drug trade


April 14, 2013

Source: LA Times

MEXICO CITY—Mexican drug cartels are striving to become “key players in the European drugs market,”  Europol officials said Friday.

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Their statement, issued from Europol headquarters in the Hague, said that Mexican criminals have become “global market coordinators” in trafficking cocaine and synthetic drugs to Europe. Police officials also alleged that Mexicans were moving firearms from southeast Europe and trading them with cocaine dealers in the Americas. They also specifically cited the Zetas cartel–perhaps the most ruthless of the Mexican gangs—for reportedly trafficking human beings “for sexual exploitation” from northeast Europe to Mexico.

Concerns about the presence of Mexican cartels in Europe are not new, but the statement by theEuropean Union’s top crime-fighting agency underscores a growing worry about the Mexican criminal groups’ ambitious plans for global expansion. Fears have spread across the Mexican border to nearby Texas, and as far away as Southeast Africa.

Last month, Texas’ public safety department declared that Mexican cartels were the “the most significant organized crime threat” to the Lone Star State. Along with other criminal groups, the cartels are suspected not only to be deeply involved in the Texas drug trade, but also to be responsible for extortion, kidnappings, public corruption and money laundering, according to the report, an annual threat assessment issued by the agency.

In May, a deputy administrator for the Drug Enforcement Administration told a group of U.S. senators that Mexican cartels are involved in the African methamphetamine trade, and have “documented links” to criminal groups in Mozambique, Ghana, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We haven’t identified specific cartel activity in Africa,” a DEA official told the Voice of America in June. “We’ve identified Mexicans in Africa, and we know they are affiliated with cartels – we just haven’t put it together.”

The Europol statement said that law enforcement officials had recently “averted” the Sinaloa Cartel’s attempts to set up a major European cocaine wholesaling operation. Thus far, according to the report, few violent incidents in Europe have been attributed to the Mexicans.

“We do not want the level of violence and brutality which we see in Mexico mirrored in Europe,” said Rob Wainwright, the Europol director.

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