Pak police kills militant wanted in Iran consulate official’s murder

Peshawar, May 12 (ANI): The Peshawar police has killed an alleged militant wanted over terror attacks, including last year’s murder of an official with the Iranian consulate, officials said.

Sources told Daily Times that Amanullah, a resident of Badhber village, was travelling in a car in the Sheikhabad area when police flagged him down but he made a run for it.

Amanullah was asked to surrender for a complete search but he refused to do so, which led to an exchange of fire.

The militant was killed on the spot while two policemen – identified as Tariq and Javed – were wounded during the gun-battle.

However, local police chief Liaquat Ali told a foreign news agency that police, acting on a tip-off, conducted a raid on a house in the provincial metropolis where Amanullah had been hiding.

A gun battle broke out and Amanullah was killed, he said, adding that two police officials were wounded in the clash, which lasted for about half an hour. (ANI)

Maoists reject Nepal PM’s call to ‘Prachanda for talks

Kathmandu, May 9 — Opposition Maoists in Nepal who are agitating to remove the government on Sunday rejected an invitation by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to resolve the ongoing political deadlock through talks. The standing committee of UCPN (Maoist) stuck to their previous demand that the Prime Minister should resign first to make way for talks and consensus on formation of a national unity government.

“There will be no talks till the Prime Minister resigns. He should resign first to create a conducive atmosphere for talks,” said Maoist spokesperson Dina Nath Sharma after the standing committee meeting.

Earlier in the day, Nepal had sent a letter to Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ thanking him for withdrawing the indefinite strike and inviting him for talks to resolve all issues. “It would not be right to head towards confrontation at this critical juncture.

I would urge you to come for talks,” the Prime Minister wrote. On Sunday morning a dozen persons including three policemen were injured in clashes during a blockade of Singha Durbar-the seat of Nepal government-by thousands Maoist cadres.

The incident occurred when policemen tried to stop Maoist supporters from marching towards Singha Durbar violating prohibitory orders. A senior police officer and a journalist were also injured.

The clash broke out after Maoist cadres beat up a person alleging that he was a vigilante. Police had to fire several tear gas shells to disperse the stone-pelting mob and bring the situation under control.

Besides Singha Durbar, Maoists also picketed outside district offices across Nepal bringing administrative work to a halt.

Two policemen killed in Bangkok

Bangkok, May 8 (DPA) Unknown assailants attacked policemen guarding an area occupied by an anti-government demonstration, killing two officers and wounding nine people, police said Saturday.

In the first attack, occurring about 10.45 p.m. Friday, men on a motorcycle fired on police and pro-government counter demonstrators on Silom Road, killing Police Sergeant Pannupat Lertkanpen with a bullet to the stomach, said Metropolitan Police

Commissioner Lieutenant General Santan Chayanol.

The attack also wounded three other policemen and two civilians.

A second attack occurred at 1.30 a.m. Saturday, in which three grenades were fired at policemen stationed outside the U-Chuliang Building across the road from Lumpini park, an area occupied by the protesters.

Police Sergeant Wittaya Phomsalee died from a chest wound he sustained in the attack. Four other policemen were wounded.

‘It’s too early to say who was behind these attacks,’ Santan said. ‘I believe it was a group of people who want to create chaos.’

The fresh violence comes at a bad time for Bangkok, where a nearly two-month-old anti-government protest has already sparked clashes that have claimed 27 lives, including six soldiers, and wounded more than 900.

Negotiations are underway to end the costly demonstration, which has seized the heart of Bangkok’s main commercial district, and cost the country millions of dollars in lost tourism revenues.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), better known as the red shirts, started its protest March 12 in a bid to force Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament and hold new elections.

In what was hailed as a major breakthrough, Abhisit Monday announced plans to hold an election Nov 14, which would require dissolving parliament between Sep 15 and Sep 30.

He also laid out a five-point road map to be followed in the coming months to deal with some of the political issues that have deeply divided the country over the past four years.

The UDD has accepted the road map in principle, but has yet to leave its protest site in the middle of the city, which it has occupied with thousands of followers since April 3.

Although the red shirt protest began peacefully, it adopted more aggressive tactics in April after failing to force Abhisit to meet their demand for an immediate dissolution of parliament.

Abhisit placed the capital under emergency decree April 7. An attempt to clear protesters from their previous demonstration site at Phan Fa Bridge, in the old part of Bangkok, led to a bloody street battle that left 25 dead, including five soldiers, and wounded more than 800.

The UDD protest has been accompanied by an unprecedented number of attacks on government and army installations by unknown assailants armed with military weapons.

To date the government has not said who the militants working in tandem with the UDD are. An impartial investigation into the April 10 event is one of the five steps on Abhisit’s proposed road map.

Militants gun down four policemen in NWFP

Peshawar, May 8 (ANI): At least four policemen were killed and one seriously injured in a militant attack on a checkpost in Ghazi Kot town of North West Frontier Province’
(NWFP) Mansehra District.

According to senior officials, militants opened fire on policemen, who had taken refuge inside the checkpost to protect themselves from heavy rains, killing four security officials on the spot.

“Four policemen were killed on the spot, while the injured policeman is still unconscious,” The Daily Times quoted a senior police official, Zulfiqar Jadoon, as saying.

“This is a clear act of terrorism,” Jadoon added.

The militants, who had arrived in a car, fled the scene soon after the attack.

Mansehra is considered to be a relatively peaceful district in the highly disturbed NWFP. This was probably the second big terror strike in the region since March when armed militants had killed six officials during a raid on a US charity office.

16 injured in clashes in Nepal on sixth day of Maoist strike

Kathmandu, May 7 (ANI): At least 16 persons were injured when a clash broke out between the UCPN (Maoist) activists and locals participating in an anti-shutdown rally at Bhandardik of Lekhnath Municipality in Nepal Kaski District on Friday.

Fourteen of the injured are Maoists and the other two are locals.

The Maoists who have imposed an indefinite strike since Sunday took out a rally after the people started demonstrating against the shutdown and chanted anti-Maoist slogans, subsequently leading to a clash.

Police lobbed a few rounds of tear gas shells to disperse the crowd after the clash turned violent.

In another incident, at least five persons including four policemen were injured in Attarkhel area of Jorpati district.

The policemen and a non-aligned civilian were caught up in the clash between the shutdown-enforcers.

Maoist cadres also clashed with the participants of the peace rally organised by professionals in Kathmandu.

Maoist has claimed that the clash ensued after the peace rally participants led by the UML youth wing Youth Force (YF) cadres pelted stones at them.

Likewise, tension also erupted in Patan after the participants of the peace assembly organised at Krishna Temple pelted stones at the vehicle being used by the Maoists.
Meanwhile, the representatives of professional organisations has warned the major political parties to find an outlet to the ongoing political crisis within two days by forging consensus.

They said the people would run out of their patience if the parties could not find a way out of the political mess that has brought Nepal to complete standstill, Kantipur reported. (ANI)

Mumbai Special Court to pronounce Kasab sentence today

Mumbai, May 6 (ANI): A Mumbai Special Court, which conducted the trial of 26/11 terror strikes, is all set to announce the quantum of punishment on Thursday.

The entire country is eagerly looking to Judge M L Tahiliyani that whether he will sentence death or life for lone surviving Pakistani terrorist of that brutal attack Ajmal Amir Kasab.

On Tuesday, the court heard the arguments on from both prosecution and defence sides.

While the prosecution wants death sentence for Kasab, his lawyer has appealed for leniency on the grounds that he”s just 22 years old.

Kasab has turned into India”s one of the costliest prisoner. Till now, the Government has spent over 35 crore rupees for his safety.

If sentenced to death, Kasab will be the 52nd person on death row in India.

On Tuesday, the public prosecutor, Ujjwal Nikam, attacked Kasab for two hours, describing him as “worse than a wild beast… Kasab is a killing machine… and the orders for this machine came from Pakistan.”

Kasab kept his head bowed throughout Nikam”s arguments.

On Monday, Kasab was found guilty on more than 80 of the 86 charges brought against him for planning and executing the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

Nikam has laid out eight arguments on why Kasab deserves to be hanged, among them, that the 26/11 attacks was meticulously planned and that policemen and defenceless civilians were “mercilessly butchered.”

He also argued that Kasab wanted to inspire others to take part in fidayeen or suicide attacks.

As an example of why Kasab should get the death penalty, Nikam said Kasab had expressed disappointment that he landed at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) after rush hour on 26/11/2008.

Kasab had anticipated a busier station, based on CDs he had been shown of CST before the attack, Nikam said.

He also said that in his confession to the Mumbai police, Kasab said that he was upset that he could not kill more people at the station. At CST, Kasab killed close to 60 people in an hour with his partner, Abu Ismail.

Meanwhile Kasab”s lawyer, K P Pawar, has pleaded with the court to consider a life sentence instead.

Kasab was only 21 when he participated in the attack against Mumbai, and he acted under the influence of terrorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), he said.

Even if judge Tahaliyani decides on the death penalty, it will not be implemented immediately.

Kasab has the option of appealing to higher courts, and can also file a mercy petition for the consideration of the President. (ANI)

Cops, thieves, ordinary people apply different logic when making decisions

Washington, May 5 (ANI): Police officers and criminals are more consistent in their judgements than ordinary people, according to a new study.

However, police officers’ reasoning is more similar to that of ordinary people than to that of thieves.

This conclusion might have significant implications on criminal jurisdiction. For the purpose of this study, a 120-people sample was taken. The sample consisted of 40 expert criminals, 40 expert policemen and 40 students unrelated to criminal activities

The study conducted by the University of Granada, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, revealed that policemen and ordinary people reason differently than criminals when making decisions. That is, they reason in different ways.

The research was conducted by Rocío García-Retamero from the Department of Experimental Psychology and Behavioural Physiology of the University of Granada, and Mandeep K. Dhabi from the Institute of Criminology (University of Cambridge, United Kingdom). (ANI)

GJM chief accuses West Bengal government of creating hurdles

Champasari Block (WB), May 5 (ANI): Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung has charged the West Bengal Government with creating hurdles in the democratic movement of his party.

Speaking to reporters here on Tuesday, Gurung termed this act of the Left Front as follies similar to its mistakes in Singur and Nandigram, which would wipe out the ruling alliance in the 2011 assembly elections.

“We know that the police will intercept us everywhere…the policemen blocked us our agitations which is not good. This very policy will wipe out the state government. The government had followed this policy in Nandigram and Singur and it is the main reason of the fallout of CPI (M) in the province and I hope that in the forthcoming 2011 assembly elections the party would be wiped out completely,” Gurung said
The sixth round of tripartite talks between the GJM, the Central and West Bengal Governments”” is to be held on May 14.

The GJM had agreed during the fifth round of tripartite talks in New Delhi to the constitution of Interim Council by next year prior to the creation of a separate state.

The Gorkhas are demanding a separate state to protect their culture and heritage.

The Gorkha population in West Bengal is estimated to be around a million. (ANI)

Extremists ruckus leads to scrapping of 18 million pound ‘mega mosque’

London, May 4 (ANI): Masked extremists of the far-right English Defence League have stymied plans for building an 18 million pound ‘Mega-Mosque’.

The agitators perched themselves on the walls of a disused building and blared out recordings of the Azaan or the Islamic prayer call.

Undeterred by threats of arrest for inciting religious and racial hatred, they brandished banners that read “No to the burka” and “No mosque”.

Over 50 policemen sealed off roads around the site.

An officer and a demonstrator needed hospital treatment after 30 EDL members tried to climb onto the roof.

Khurshid Ahmed, of the Dudley Muslim Association, told the Daily Star “The EDL’s actions are a clear breach of the Public Order Act and incitement to religious hatred legislation.”

Furious residents reproached the protesters for creating a racket, calling them “racist” and their activities a “waste of time”.

The protest continued throughout yesterday even though council chiefs announced the mosque would no longer be built on that site.

“This is not a victory for the protesters. We have been working at this for some time,” said Dudley Metropolitan councillor Les Jones. (ANI)

Policemen deployed at Thailand hospital after Red Shirts’ forced entry

Bangkok, Apr 30(ANI): A total of 100 policemen have been deployed around King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital in Bangkok to prevent any further forced entry by the Red Shirt protesters, police chief said.

Assistant national police chief Pol Lt-Gen Worapong Chiewpreecha said the
Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations (CRES) has ordered police to provide security for all hospitals in Bangkok.

The decision comes after about 200 supporters and guards of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) led by leader Payap Panket searched the hospital, claiming it was being used as a hideout by the security forces.

Chulalongkorn Hospital Director Adisorn Patradul said the hospital, located next to the Red Shirt rally site on Ratchadamri Road, has closed its out-patient service after the incident and currently it is only handling emergency cases.

The patients have been transferred to Siriraj and other hospitals, he added.

According to reports, the hospital evacuated more than 1,000 patients, but there are about 600 patients in the building.

Meanwhile, UDD leader Weng Tojirakarn has issued an apology for the raid, describing it as “inappropriate, too much, and unreasonable”.

“On behalf of all [UDD] leaders, I apologise to the public and to Chulalongkorn Hospital for the incident. The situation got out of control. It is not our policy to obstruct hospital operations,” Tojirakarn said. (ANI)

Four policemen killed, six injured in suicide attack on check post in NWFP

Peshawar, Apr.28 (ANI): The Taliban continues to target security forces in the restive tribal areas of Pakistan, as four policemen were killed and six wounded in a suicide attack near the Pir Bala police checkpost in the North West Frontier Province’s (NWFP) Bannu District on Wednesday.

The attackers rammed their explosive laden vehicle into the police checkpost resulting in the death of four security officials, a senior police official in Peshawar, Liaquat Ali, said.

The injured policemen have been admitted to a local hospital. The death toll may rise as the condition of some of those injured is stated to be critical, hospital sources said.

The explosion was so powerful that is destroyed the check post completely. Several nearby buildings were also damaged in the blast, The News reports.

Last week, militants targeted an Army convoy in Dattakhel area of North Waziristan killing seven soldiers and injuring 25 others.

Six vehicles were destroyed in the attack, which was said to have been carried out by supporters of a powerful Taliban commander Maulvi Saddiq Noor.

Noor belongs to the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group, which had attacked a military convoy in Wecha Bibi area last year and killed 23 soldiers. (ANI)

For Karachi male prostitutes “it’s all about eye contact and the rest is understood”

Karachi, Apr.27 (ANI): Pakistan’s financial capital, Karachi’s Empress Market is fast becoming a hub for male prostitution.

One can find dozens of male ‘prostitutes’, who mainly are in the age group of 15 to 25 years, waiting for customers in this busy market place, but not everyone can identify these men selling ‘unnatural’ sex.

By the way in which these men communicate with their potential customers, one could hardly make out as to what they are upto.

Explaining the art of identifying a likely customer, a male prostitute, who didn’t disclose his name said ‘it’s all about making an eye contact.’

“It’s all about eye contact and the rest is understood,” The Daily Times quoted him, as saying.

When asked how he ended up in this filthy profession, he said he was molested by his school teacher at a very young age, which changed his whole life.

“I was molested by my schoolteacher when I was only 11. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. But gradually I started enjoying it,” he said.

He said that while some men or ‘boys’ are in this trade for money, some work as male prostitutes only for enjoyment.

“Some do it just for fun and don’t accept money,” he said.

“Policemen or guards force us into sex without payment, but rarely, as we avoid going to places where they could be present,” he added. (ANI)

10 policemen injured in NWFP suicide attack

Peshawar, Apr.24 (ANI): At least 10 policemen were wounded when a suicide attacker targeted a prison van in Pakistan’s troubled tribal region of North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Senior police officials said that the attackers came in an explosives laden car, which they rammed into the prison van as it arrived at a jail in Timergarh town of the Lower Dir District.

The prison vehicle was empty at the time of the attack, The Dawn reports.

“We have found the engine of the car used in the attack and some body parts of the bomber including his sliced head from the site,” senior police official Shakeel Ahmad said.

Another senior police official, Qazi Jamil, confirmed the attack, saying: “It was a suicide attack targeting the police van.”

Timergarah, which is situated near the Afghan border, was a stronghold of the Taliban 2009 when the Pakistan Army launched a major offensive and established its control over the region.

Extremists have been targeting security forces stationed in the region since they were forcibly flushed out last year, which shows that they still hold ground. (ANI)

Forty injured in Sarajevo crowd violence

Around 40 people, among them 17 police officers, were injured when soccer fans clashed with police after a 1-1 draw between Sarajevo and Siroki Brijeg late on Wednesday, local official said on Thursday.

Sarajevo supporters had hoped for a victory in memory of a soccer fan killed in violence that accompanied the last match with Siroki Brijeg in October.

“You betrayed us,” supporters shouted at players and club management after the game ended. The players managed to escape safely from the stadium.

Fans then clashed with security and police who tried to stop them from damaging the stadium.

“Seventeen policemen were injured in the violence, several with serious injuries,” Sarajevo police spokesman Dragan Mijokovic said. “Up to 15 people were detained.”

Most people were treated for face and head injuries but nobody was seriously hurt.

Several people were also injured in clashes between police and fans after a match between local rivals Zrinjski and Velez in the ethnically divided southern town of Mostar.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Adam Tanner and Alastair Himmer.

To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

Commonwealth Games security will have to be more vigilant: Home Secretary

New Delhi, Apr.19 (ANI): India’s Home Secretary, G.K.Pillai, has said that tighter security will be needed at this year”s Commonwealth Games, especially after loopholes surfaced in Bangalore during an Indian Premier League match on Saturday.

Pillai told the Sydney Morning Herald the blasts targeting spectators at Bangalore”s Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday ””means we have to be far more vigilant”” during the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October.

Two makeshift bombs went off outside the venue for the match between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians, injuring at least 17 people, including several policemen on Saturday.

An unexploded bomb was defused at a stadium gate and on Sunday another crude unexploded device was found near a statue of Mahatma Gandhi not far from the stadium.

””This is about the 50th [Indian Premier League] cricket match we”ve had in the past two months, and I think, maybe, they just got a little complacent,”” Pillai said.

Pillai said security would ””be in order”” for the Delhi Games and the Bangalore blasts had not increased government concerns for the event.

””We are still quite confident that such an incident won”t happen [at the Games],”” he said. (ANI)

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claims responsibility for Kohat car bomb attack

Kohat (Pakistan), Apr 19(ANI): The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s suicide car bomb attack in Northwestern Pakistan’s Kohat region.

At least seven people were killed and over 31 others were injured in the incident.

Nine security officials, including two personnel of the Frontier Constabulary and seven policemen, were among the 31 people injured in the attack.

TTP’s spokesman Qari Hussain said the vehicle had accidentally exploded near the Bilitang police station, adding that the actual target were security forces in the Kohat Cantonment, The Dawn reports.

Deputy Inspector of Police of Kohat region, Abdullah Khan, said around 250 kilograms of explosives were used in the attack on the police station.

The vehicle hit a tractor parked near the wall of the police station, and damaged the police station’s building, a nearby school and four vehicles.

The attack came less than 24 hours after two suicide bombers dressed in burqas struck a refugee camp killing at least 41 and wounding more than 60 peoples.

The bombers struck minutes apart on Saturday (April 17) in the Kacha Pukha camp on the outskirts of the garrison city of Kohat, a registration centre for people fleeing Taliban violence and Pakistani army operations close to the Afghan border. (ANI)

Commonwealth Games security will have to be more vigilant: Home Secretary

New Delhi, Apr.19 (ANI): India’s Home Secretary, G.K.Pillai, has said that tighter security will be needed at this year”s Commonwealth Games, especially after loopholes surfaced in Bangalore during an Indian Premier League match on Saturday.

Pillai told the Sydney Morning Herald the blasts targeting spectators at Bangalore”s Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday ””means we have to be far more vigilant”” during the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October.

Two makeshift bombs went off outside the venue for the match between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians, injuring at least 17 people, including several policemen on Saturday.

An unexploded bomb was defused at a stadium gate and on Sunday another crude unexploded device was found near a statue of Mahatma Gandhi not far from the stadium.

””This is about the 50th [Indian Premier League] cricket match we”ve had in the past two months, and I think, maybe, they just got a little complacent,”” Pillai said.

Pillai said security would ””be in order”” for the Delhi Games and the Bangalore blasts had not increased government concerns for the event.

””We are still quite confident that such an incident won”t happen [at the Games],”” he said. (ANI)

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claims responsibility for Kohat car bomb attack

Kohat (Pakistan), Apr 19(ANI): The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s suicide car bomb attack in Northwestern Pakistan’s Kohat region.

At least seven people were killed and over 31 others were injured in the incident.

Nine security officials, including two personnel of the Frontier Constabulary and seven policemen, were among the 31 people injured in the attack.

TTP’s spokesman Qari Hussain said the vehicle had accidentally exploded near the Bilitang police station, adding that the actual target were security forces in the Kohat Cantonment, The Dawn reports.

Deputy Inspector of Police of Kohat region, Abdullah Khan, said around 250 kilograms of explosives were used in the attack on the police station.

The vehicle hit a tractor parked near the wall of the police station, and damaged the police station’s building, a nearby school and four vehicles.

The attack came less than 24 hours after two suicide bombers dressed in burqas struck a refugee camp killing at least 41 and wounding more than 60 peoples.

The bombers struck minutes apart on Saturday (April 17) in the Kacha Pukha camp on the outskirts of the garrison city of Kohat, a registration centre for people fleeing Taliban violence and Pakistani army operations close to the Afghan border. (ANI)

Suicide bomber kills four including TV journalist in Pak

A suicide bomber on Friday blew himself up in a hospital in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, killing at least four persons, including a TV journalist, and injuring over 10 others.

The bomber struck when a large number of people gathered outside the Civil Hospital in Quetta to protest the killing of a member of the minority Shia community.

The Shia man was shot outside a bank and died after being brought to the hospital.

A large number of protesters, policemen, reporters and TV cameramen were outside the hospital when the suicide attacker detonated his explosives at around 10.15 am.

Malik Arif, a cameraman for Samaa news channel, was among the dead. A reporter for the channel said Arif’s body was blown to pieces and his head severed. The reporter said he had also seen another severed head.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

TV channels beamed dramatic footage of people running out of the hospital complex after the blast as a cloud of dust rose into the sky.

The explosion was followed by heavy firing though it could not immediately be ascertained who had opened fire.

The blast blackened the walls of the hospital and shattered windows. People carried the injured away from the site of the explosion.

Four policemen, two journalists and a TV cameraman were among the injured, witnesses said. Geo TV reported that its reporter Salaman Asharf was also injured in the attack.

Quetta and other parts of Balochistan province have witnessed several attacks on members of the Shia community and non-Baloch people over the past year.

Chaos reigns as Sudan begins complex election

KHARTOUM, April 11 (Reuters) – With lines of voters hunkered down for hours on makeshift benches or sheltering under trees from the baking sun, Sudan’s complex and controversial elections got off to an often chaotic start.

Officials had spent months preparing for the polls, but confusion soon erupted on Sunday as centre after centre, sometimes hours into the voting, discovered that voters were using the wrong ballot papers or that names or symbols of candidates were either missing or incorrect.

Given that votes are being cast for two presidents, 24 governors and 26 state and national assemblies, using three different voting systems and up to 12 ballots, things were bound to go awry.

Many opposition parties boycotted the elections, citing widespread fraud before the voting even began.

The National Elections Commission had insisted it was ready, despite demands from the opposition for a short delay to ensure the process ran smoothly. Mokhtar al-Asam, a top official, said on the eve of voting that the electoral system was “foolproof”.

It was a novel experience for many voters, and for election officials.

Some were too nervous to ask voters to dip their fingers fully into indelible green ink — used to show that people had cast their votes — and had to be reminded of the rules.

Quite which ballot papers to use also posed a problem for some election officials.

‘RUNNING OUT OF BALLOTS’

“We’re running out of ballots,” one shouted down the phone, urging Sudanese observers not to worry — until he discovered the parliamentary ballots he had been using for the past four hours were from a different constituency and voting was halted.

That centre was brimming with policemen, who had waited for almost four hours to vote. Their presence worried some of the monitors. Other centres had line after line of soldiers pushing to get in the door.

“There’s only one national party in this country – the National Congress Party,” one of a group of soldiers, sitting in the army lorry which had brought them to vote, said in reference to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s party.

Bashir is widely expected to win another term and his party is accused of rigging the vote and intimidating competitors.

One of the opposition complaints was that election officials had allowed all of Sudan’s numerous security forces to register to vote at their barracks.

Many felt their heavy presence in these areas could tip votes towards the ruling party because voters felt intimidated.

Voting booths were made of cardboard and many were already looking ragged on the first of three days of polls.

Ill-trained local monitors watched carefully but few noticed basic errors such as the use of incorrect ballots.

Voting was a difficult task even for those with a seasoned political eye — it took Bashir 10 minutes to cast votes on his eight ballots.

The confused scenes in some stations in Khartoum prompted many to wonder what was happening in the more remote parts of Africa’s largest country, where illiteracy rates are high and decades of civil war have devastated infrastructure.

Despite the problems, many Sudanese insisted on voting. After a quarter-century without free elections, they saw the event alone as historic, despite the boycotts and complaints.

“Even if this is 50 percent right it’s better than nothing,” said voter el-Fatih Khidr.

(Editing by Missy Ryan and Giles Elgood)