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At least 40 Dead In Concert Shooting

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Gunmen opened fire at a rock concert in a Moscow suburb Friday killing at least 40 people, wounding 100 and setting off an inferno in the theatre, authorities said.

Attackers dressed in camouflage uniforms entered the building, opened fire and threw a grenade or incendiary bomb, according to a journalist for the RIA Novosti news agency at the scene.

Fire quickly spread through the Crocus City concert hall in the Krasnogorsk suburb in the north of the Russian capital, which can hold several thousand people and has hosted top international artists.

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According to preliminary information, 40 people were killed and more than 100 were injured as a result of a terrorist attack in the Crocus City Hall,” according to the FSB security service, quoted by Interfax news agency and other Russian media.

Authorities said a “terrorist” investigation had been started and President Vladimir Putin was receiving “constant” updates on the attack, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies.

Telegram news channels Baza and Mash, which are close to security forces, showed video images of flames and black smoke pouring from the hall.

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Other images showed two men walking through the hall with at least one person left on the ground near the entrance. Concert-goers were also seen hiding behind seats or trying to escape.

Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said there had been a “terrible tragedy” at the concert by Russian rock band Piknik and cancelled all public events in the city for the weekend.

Security services quoted by Interfax news agency said between two and five people “wearing tactical uniforms and carrying automatic weapons” opened fire on guards at the entrance and then started shooting at the audience.

“People who were in the hall were led on the ground to protect themselves from the shooting for 15 or 20 minutes,” the RIA Novosti journalist was quoted as saying.

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People started crawling out when it was safe, the journalist reported.

READ ALSO: One Dead, 21 Injured In US Super Bowl Parade Shooting

Odious crime’

About 100 people escaped through the theatre basement while others were sheltering on the the roof, the emergency services ministry said on its Telegram channel.

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But about one third of the complex was ablaze, TASS news agency reported.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said it had been a “bloody terrorist attack”.

“The whole international community must condemn this odious crime,” she said on Telegram.

The US presidency called the attack “terrible” but said there was no immediate sign of any link to the conflict in Ukraine.

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“There is no indication at this time that Ukraine, or Ukrainians were involved in the shooting,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington.

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Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev vowed on Telegram that Ukraine’s top officials “must be found and ruthlessly destroyed as terrorists” if they were linked to the attack.

“I offer my condolences to the families of the dead,” said Moscow’s mayor as a major security operation was launched around the theatre and nearby shopping mall.

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TASS said that SOBR, special police forces and the OMON anti-riot squad had been sent to the Crocus hall.

It added that all the members of the rock band had been evacuated safely.

Orthodox church leader Patriarch Kirill was “praying for peace for the souls of the dead,” said his spokesman Vladimir Legoyda.

Previous warnings

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Moscow and other Russian cities have been the targets of previous attacks by Islamist groups but there have also been incidents without any clear political motive.

READ ALSO: One Killed As Sokoto Youths, Bandits Engage In Shootout

Earlier this month, the US embassy in Russia warned “extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow”, including concerts.

In 2002, Chechen separatist fighters took 912 people hostage in a Moscow theatre, the Dobrovka, demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from the region.

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Special forces attacked the theatre to end the hostage taking and 130 people were killed, nearly all suffocated by a gas used by security forces to knock out the gunmen.

Russia launched a military intervention in Ukraine in February 2022 and it has been the target of attacks along the border by anti-Kremlin forces.

Ukraine’s presidency and the Freedom of Russia Legion, whose fighters are part of Ukraine’s armed forces, denied any role in the concert hall attack.

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Meta Deletes 63,000 Accounts In ‘Yahoo Boys’ Crackdown

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Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has removed 63,000 accounts associated with the notorious “Yahoo Boys” scam group, the company announced in its Q1 2024 Adversarial Threat Report on Wednesday.

The accounts, deleted over the past few weeks, were used for financial sextortion scams and distributing blackmail scripts. Meta reported that a smaller network of 2,500 accounts, linked to around 20 individuals, primarily targeted adult men in the United States using fake identities.

Meta said it identified and disabled these accounts through a combination of advanced technical signals and comprehensive investigations, enhancing its automated detection systems.

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“Financial sextortion is a borderless crime, fueled in recent years by the increased activity of Yahoo Boys, loosely organised cybercriminals operating largely out of Nigeria that specialize in different types of scams,” the social media giant stated.

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It added, “We’ve removed around 63,000 accounts in Nigeria attempting to target people with financial sextortion scams, including a coordinated network of around 2,500 accounts.”

“We’ve also removed a set of Facebook accounts, Pages, and groups run by Yahoo Boys—banned under our Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy—that were attempting to organize, recruit and train new scammers,” the company explained.

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During the investigation, Meta said it found that most scammers’ attempts were unsuccessful, though some had targeted minors. These cases were reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Meta revealed that it also shared information with other tech companies via the Tech Coalition’s Lantern program to help curb these scams across platforms.

READ ALSO: FG Slashes Allowances Of Stranded Nigerians On Scholarship In Russia The Federal Gov

Further, the parent company of Facebook said it removed around 7,200 assets in Nigeria, including 1,300 Facebook accounts, 200 pages, and 5,700 groups that were providing scam-related resources.

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These assets were found offering scripts and guides for scams and sharing links to collections of photos for creating fake accounts, it expounded.

Since this disruption, Meta’s systems have been actively blocking attempts from these groups to return, continually improving their detection capabilities.

The company noted that it has also been working closely with law enforcement, supporting investigations and prosecutions by responding to legal requests and alerting authorities to imminent threats.

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The social media giant stated that its efforts extend beyond account removal.

“We also fund and support NCMEC and the International Justice Mission to run Project Boost, a program that trains law enforcement agencies around the world in processing and acting on NCMEC reports.

“We’ve conducted several training sessions so far, including in Nigeria and the Cote d’Ivoire, with our most recent session taking place just last month,” the firm revealed.

To protect users, especially teens, Meta disclosed that it has implemented stricter messaging settings for users under 16 (under 18 in certain countries) and displays safety notices to encourage cautious behaviour online.

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READ ALSO: FG Slashes Allowances Of Stranded Nigerians On Scholarship In Russia The Federal Gov

Last week, Meta was fined $220m by Nigeria’s Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission for multiple violations of data protection laws linked to WhatsApp.

The investigation, initiated in May 2021, found that Meta’s privacy policies infringed on users’ rights, including unauthorized data sharing and discriminatory practices.

Meta plans to appeal the decision, arguing that it disagrees with the findings and the imposed penalty. The FCCPC aims to ensure fair treatment of Nigerian users and compliance with local regulations.

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FG Slashes Allowances Of Stranded Nigerians On Scholarship In Russia The Federal Gov

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The Federal Government has announced a slash in allowances of foreign scholars who are currently studying in Moscow, Russia.

This is contained in a letter dated July 23, 2024, issued to the scholars’ association in country by the Federal Scholarship Board under the Federal Ministry of Education.

The students are studying under the Federal Government’s Bilateral Educational Agreement Scholarship, which is for the purpose of education exchange between Nigeria and the other countries.

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The letter, which was signed by the Director of the Federal Scholarship Board, Ndajiwo H.A., on behalf of the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman reads, “A: FG slashes allowances of Nigerian foreign scholars over hardship”

According to the letter, the monthly allowances were slashed from $500 to $220; the graduation allowance from $2500 to $2000; and the PG research allowance was slashed from $1,000 to $500.

The total for the payments initially paid was $5,650 per student but will now be $4,370 but allowance for health insurance, pilot allowance and Medical allowance remains $200, $700 and $500 as before.

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READ ALSO: Plane Crashes On Takeoff In Nepal With 19 Aboard

The letter reads: “The Scholars’ Association is hereby notified that due to the prevailing economic situation, the payment mandate for the BEA scholars’ allowances will be as per the new adjustment.”

“The balances for the years 2023 and 2024 owed to scholars will be paid as soon as the funds are made available,” the letter reads.

Meanwhile, reports has it that the scholars have not been paid for close to eight months and have endured financial strain due to the delay in receiving their stipends.

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BREAKING: SGF, NSA, Ministers In Emergency Meeting Over Planned Nationwide Protest

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The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, George Akume, is currently meeting with ministers over the planned nationwide protest against economic hardship.

READ ALSO::Four Suspected Cultists Arrested With Arms In Edo

The meeting, which is taking place behind closed doors, has all the over 40 ministers in President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet in attendance.

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Some of the Ministers spotted are Nyesom Wike (FCT), Yusuf Tuggar (Foreign Affairs), Zephaniah Jisalo (Special Duties), Tahir Mamman (Education), and Abubakar Bagudu (Budget and Planning).

Others are Wale Edun (Finance), Mohammed Idris (Information), Bello Matawalle (Defence), David Umahi (Works), and the National Security Adviser (NSA) Nuhu Ribadu, amongst others.

Recall that the President had earlier on Tuesday pleaded with Nigerians to shelve the #EndBadGovernance protest slated to commence on August 1.

The protest against economic hardship, organized by faceless persons, has gained traction on social media and is scheduled to hold across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

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Details shorly…

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