18 dead as car bomber smashes into UN office

Daily Mail, Saturday, August 27, 2011
Page 30
18 dead as car bomber
smashes into UN office
AT least 18 people were killed
yesterday in a car suicide
bombing at the United Nations
office in the Nigerian capital
Abuja.
A car laden with explosives
rammed through two gates
before slamming into the concrete building as it teemed with
hundreds of staff.
No group claimed immediate
responsibility, although Africa’s
most populous nation faces a
growing threat of homegrown
terrorism.
Militants from a radical Muslim
sect have previously carried out
attacks in the capital, though
never on a foreign target.
Unrest in the country’s oil-rich
Niger Delta in the south has also
spawned a violent militant group.
Witnesses described a saloon car
Mail Foreign Service
ramming through gates at the
UN compound as guards tried to
stop it hitting the main building.
The suicide bomber crashed the
car into a reception area and detonated the explosives, inflicting
the most damage possible, a
spokesman for the Nigerian
National Emergency Management Agency said.
Michael Ofilaje, a UNICEF
worker, said the building shook
with the explosion.
‘I saw scattered bodies,’ he
added. ‘Many people are dead.’
The building, which housed
about 400 employees of the UN, is
in the same neighbourhood as
the U.S. embassy and other diplomatic posts.
Nigerian President Goodluck
Jonathan’s office called the
attack ‘barbaric, senseless and
cowardly’. He promised to
increase security.
Nigeria, with a population of
150million, is split between a
largely Christian south and Muslim north.
In recent months, the country
has faced an increasing threat
from the radical sect Boko Haram,
which wants to implement a strict
version of sharia law.
The sect has carried out assassinations and bombings, including the June car bombing of the
national headquarters of Nigeria’s federal police in Abuja which
killed at least two.
Boko Haram has also been
linked to groups in other African
countries said to be sympathetic
to Al Qaeda.
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H
ANG ON, this can’t be right. Turning off a
B-road in Essex, my taxi driver appears to have
pulled into the world’s most boring street.
Characterless pale-bricked houses with flat
UPVC windows line either side of the grey
­pavements and wheelie bins stand like sentries
outside white plastic doors.
It’s the John Major of streets. The sort of cul-de-sac where you imagine
the prize for most exotic pet would be won by someone’s hamster.
Maybe a budgie or two. A parakeet, at a push.
It’s certainly not the kind of street you expect to find a fully-grown emu
wandering around someone’s living room. Yet, within minutes of arriving
at Iain Newby’s five-bedroom detached home, I come face-to-beak with
Beaky, a 6ft tall emu who seems to think she’s human.
Two-year-old Beaky lives cosily alongside Iain and his family in this
quintessentially suburban corner of Southend-on-Sea, Essex.
The Australian outback it is not. Yet the 12 st bird seems more than
happy to rub alongside her non-feathered family — 44-year-old Iain, his
wife Lisa, 36, and their five very boisterous sons and one daughter, aged
from ten months to eight.
It’s a most curious sight. Iain — a
cross between Crocodile Dundee and
Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt — welcomes
me in and guides me through the
­living room where Lisa is vacuuming
and several blonde-haired children
are tearing in and out with their toys.
So far, so relatively normal.
But then, at the back of the house, I
spy a vast wooden porch. And there,
through the windowless frames, I catch
my first glimpse of Beaky and she
doesn’t seem at all pleased to see me.
Straight away Lisa said: “Ah, Beaky”
She gives me the evil eye as I approach
and that’s how she got her name.’
her tentatively, gradually becoming
Beaky was immediately welcomed
more aware of a strange bongo-like
into the large Newby clan.
sound she seems to be producing as
‘She’s convinced the children are her
she struts up and down the garden.
siblings and loves being with them,’
‘That’s the sound she makes when
says Iain. ‘I put her in one of their old
she’s unsure about something, so it’s
playpens and she’d sit with us in the
just a warning signal,’ says Iain. ‘It’s an
living room and eat at the same time.
air pocket at the base of her throat
But within a few months she was
that she pops and it makes that sound.
already 3 ft tall and could leap out of it.
But don’t worry, she’s just sizing you
‘She used to sleep in what is now my
up. She’s a bit wary of strangers, but
office, but as she got older she needed
she won’t bite you. She’s very tame.’
more space, so I built her a hut outside.
Reassured, I move a little closer. ‘She’s
But if we’re all out we usually leave the
more likely to kick you,’ he adds.
television on for company and if we
It’s clear I’m the newbie in the Newby
haven’t locked the back porch properly,
house, and Beaky doesn’t like it.
she’ll undo the catch, sneak in, sit there
But after five minutes she seems to
on the ­carpet and watch TV.
have decided I’m no threat, so I
‘We’ll come back and see that a
­v enture to pet her. Close-up, I’m
­c ouple of ornaments have been
­surprised by how pretty she really is.
knocked over, but she’ll be happily
Her large brown glassy marbles of
sitting there watching the box.’
eyes peer at me through long Liz
­Taylor eyelashes. She has a long,
­elegant blue and emerald-coloured
neck, covered in soft black down.
hile the children
Her body is a huge puffball of pale
clearly love being with
brown and white plumage, slightly
the big bird, Iain’s
damp from the rain. But it’s her
wife Lisa may be
­ugliest feature which transfixes me
starting to rue the day
— her strong, thick legs with razorshe ever bought Beaky home.
sharp claws which could rip apart a
‘It’s not ideal her bringing all that
wire fence (not to mention a nervous
mud in from the garden when you’ve
journalist) with one sharp kick.
got little ones crawling around,’ she
Having established I am friend not
says, shaking her head.
foe, I try to win Beaky’s affections
As if on cue, Beaky suddenly has a
further by showing her a little present
little accident. Lisa, clearly used to
I’ve brought in the shape of a Rod
such behaviour, merely sighs and
Hull-style emu hand puppet.
fetches the mop.
Big mistake. Beaky is not amused
Next up it’s feeding time. The mighty
(or should that be emu-sed?)
bird may not peck, but she’s certainly
She eyeballs her stuffed-toy lookapeckish. Although she can eat 14lbs of
like and, for a moment, I fear she’s
corn a week and about 5lbs of fruit
going to give me the Michael Parkinand vegetables, including broccoli,
son treatment. But Beaky merely
peas and cauliflower, it’s still not
struts off in a diva-like strop. The
enough to satisfy a hungry emu.
message is clear: there’s only room
‘She’ll eat anything,’ explains Iain.
for one emu around these parts.
‘Drill bits, scouring sponges, keys . . .
Emus — or Dromaius novaeholeven money. A friend put his change
landaie to give them their scientific
and a £10 note on the window ledge
name — are native to Australia and
just for a second and she grabbed it
the ­ second largest bird in the world
and it was gone. I tried to stop her,
in height, next to the ostrich.
but it went down in one.’
Given the space, they can reach
But despite the occasional disaster,
speeds of up to 40 mph and Beaky
Beaky does earn her keep.
could — if she had a run-up of 100 m
Last year, she laid an impressive 18
or so — jump over a 6 ft fence.
eggs — each about ten times the size
of a chicken’s — during her laying
season between January and March.
‘One egg can feed the entire family,’
ot that it’s possible in
says Iain. ‘They take about 20 ­minutes
this garden, which can
to soft boil. We sit around the table
be no bigger than 60 ft
with slices of toast and all get a dip,
long and 15 ft wide. And
it’s great.’
not that she seems in
Beaky may be the Newbys’ most
any way keen to make a run for it
impressive pet, but she’s by no means
(I suspect she realises just what a
the family’s only animal.
cushy number she has here).
Located around the house in ponds,
Beaky was a gift to Iain from his wife
cages, pens, incubators — not to
for Christmas two years ago and has
­mention the 130 ft outbuilding that
been part of the family since.
Iain built in the back garden for ­various
‘Lisa bought me an egg from an emu
­lizards, spiders and snakes — are more
farm,’ says Iain. ‘It arrived in the post
than 200 creatures.
in bubble wrap and I didn’t think it
As he lists them, it sounds like the
would hatch. But I made an incubaroll call at Chester Zoo.
tor and put it inside, just in case.
‘We’ve got macaws, parrots, 11
‘Lisa was expecting our Peter and
large ­ Mediterranean tortoises, a
the midwife came and checked her
piranha, turtles, soft-shelled turtles,
out and then put her stethoscope on
iguanas, leopard geckos, plated
the egg and said: “Iain, I think there’s
­lizards, bearded dragons, tarantulas,
movement. I think there’s something
a scorpion, horn snakes, king snakes,
in here”, and I was really surprised.
a 15 ft reticulated python, Burmese
‘A few days later, the egg started
pythons, boa constrictors, rat
breaking up and the first thing we
snakes, two crocs, four dogs, five
saw was a massive beak poking out.
cats, a African dwarf hedgehog. Oh
by Jill
Foster
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