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Two Chinese nationals held with 162 kg pangolin scales

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KATHMANDU — The Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police has arrested two Chinese nationals for their alleged involvement in smuggling body parts of protected species to Nepal from Africa.

The arrestees have been identified as Qiu Guorong, 40, and Que Lebao, 34, according to CIB spokesperson SP Jeevan Shrestha. He said 162 kilograms of pangolin scales were seized from the duo. It is the single-largest haul of pangolin scales in Nepal.

The Chinese nationals, who arrived in Kathmandu from Istanbul on a Turkish Airlines flight yesterday, were found carrying the pangolin scales during an X-ray screening of their luggage in Red Channel Area of Tribhuvan International Airport Customs Office.

The Chinese national were handed over to District Forest Office, Kathmandu, for legal action under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act.

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Anyone involved in the trade of protected species may be slapped with a fine up to Rs 100,000 and a jail term of five to 15 years in accordance with the NPWC Act.

If a transnational crime is committed with the involvement of two or more members of the same gang, police may proceed action against them under the POC Act to demand a jail sentence of 20 years, along with property attachment.

Pangolin scales are in high demand in Asian markets, especially China, as they are used in manufacturing bulletproof jackets and traditional Chinese medicine and cost around USD 3,000 per kg in the international black market, a police source said.

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Maldives opposition legislator Ibrahim Mohamed Solih wins presidency

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MALE — Maldives opposition legislator Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has beaten incumbent Abdulla Yameen according to provisional results, the country’s Elections Commission says.

Results released by the Elections Commission showed Mr Solih securing 133,808 votes (58.3 percent) compared to the 95,526 for incumbent Abdulla Yameen. The voter turnout was over 88 per cent out of the 262,000-strong electorate.

The Maldives government has acknowledged the opposition’s victory after the vote on Sunday, a surprise defeat for President Abdulla Yameen who was widely expected to win.

There were no other candidates.

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Mr Solih had the backing of a united opposition trying to oust Mr Yameen, but struggled for visibility with the electorate, with local media fearful of falling afoul of heavy-handed decrees and reporting restrictions.

“I call on Yameen to respect the will of the people and bring about a peaceful, smooth transfer of power,” Solih said on television, shortly after interim results from the country’s election commission.

“We have won this election with a comfortable majority,” Solih said.

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