Category Archives: Africa – International

Nigeria – regional anti-Boko Haram force will cross borders to fight

BBC

Cameroon troops in the north of the country
Cameroon has had to increase its military presence in the north to fight Nigeria-based militants

Multinational troops fighting Boko Haram in West Africa will be able to pursue the militants across borders, Nigeria’s presidential spokesman says.

Garba Shehu told the BBC this was there was now trust between those contributing troops since the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in May.

He was speaking ahead of the Nigerian leader’s visit to Cameroon.

A boosted force with 8,700 troops from Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria is to become fully operational next month.

Relations between Nigeria and Cameroon have been fraught for years because of territorial disputes, in particular over the Bakassi peninsula.

The oil-rich region was eventually awarded to Cameroon by an international court.

BBC Nigeria analyst Naziru Mikailu says Mr Buhari is trying to smooth over these diplomatic tensions as he meets President Paul Biya as both nations now face a new enemy threatening their territorial integrity.

A banner reads
Security is reportedly tight in the Cameroonian capital for the visit

On Tuesday, Cameroon announced it would deploy an extra 2,000 troops along its northern border with Nigeria to fight Boko Haram.

It follows an upsurge in suicide attacks in northern Cameroon blamed on the Nigerian militants.

‘In disarray’

With the help of troops from Chad and Niger, earlier this year the Nigerian army managed to retake most of the areas taken over by the militants in north-eastern Nigeria.

Map

Although the militants have lost their strongholds, they are still active and there has been an upsurge in suicide attacks since Mr Buhari took office.

“Boko Haram is in disarray and it is doubtful they have any central command,” Mr Shehu told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

President Buhari has made the multinational force central to his government’s strategy in tackling the insurgency.

The force of soldiers, police and civilian personnel will be based in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, which has also been affected by the violence.

“All the countries agreed this operation will not recognise international boundaries – wherever terrorists are they will be chased to these locations and they will be fought until they are finished,” Mr Shehu said.

At least 17,000 people have been killed since Boko Haram launched its insurgency in northern Nigeria 2009, according to Amnesty International.

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Boko Haram at a glance

Boko Haram fighters
  • Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western-style education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, abducted hundreds, including at least 200 schoolgirls
  • Joined Islamic State, now calls itself “West African province”
  • Seized large area in north-east, where it declared caliphate
  • Regional force has retaken most territory this year

Nigeria – Buhari in Cameroon seeking closer alliance against Boko Haram

Reuters

Nigeria’s Buhari in Cameroon seeks closer partnership against Boko Haram

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari began a two-day visit to Cameroon on Wednesday in a bid to soothe fractious ties between the West African neighbours and strengthen cooperation against Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

Buhari’s first visit to Cameroon since his election in March comes as the militant group, which has sworn allegiance to Islamic State, has launched a fresh wave of attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Buhari, wearing a white traditional robe, was greeted on arrival at Yaounde international airport by 82-year-old Cameroonian President Paul Biya. The two were to hold talks at the presidential palace on Wednesday, before making a joint statement ahead of Buhari’s departure on Thursday.

Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger waged an offensive against Boko Haram this year that broke its grip over swathes of northeastern Nigeria, but it responded with suicide bombings and raids that have spilled the conflict across borders.

Tensions are running high in Cameroon’s Far North region after three suicide attacks in the past week killed at least 60 people, prompting the local government to announce the closure of some mosques, ban burqas and forbid street hawkers.

In Nigeria, suspected Boko Haram attacks have killed at least 600 people since Buhari took office two months ago.

Cameroon’s Information Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakari said Boko Haram had switched to attacking civilian targets because it was no longer capable of military engagements.

“The heads of state are going to discuss the best means of eradicating this new form of belligerence and the strategies to reduce Boko Haram,” he said.

An African Union-mandated, 8,700-strong regional taskforce, headquartered in the Chadian capital N’Djamena, was due to start operations at the end of this month but has been delayed by questions over funding.

The Nigerian presidency said the talks would focus on the activation and deployment of this force. Buhari is due to visit Benin, the fifth member of the operation, on Saturday.

Relations between Cameroon and Nigeria have been strained by a border dispute that flared into conflict in 1993. Biya, in power since 1982, did not attend Buhari’s inauguration and the Nigerian leader’s trip comes nearly two months after he visited Chad and Niger.

In the past, Abuja has accused Yaounde of dragging its feet over tackling Boko Haram, which analysts say established rear bases on the Cameroonian side of the Mandara mountains.

Cameroon has complained that its efforts to combat the militants have been hampered by Nigeria’s refusal to grant its forces the right to pursue them onto its soil, which both Chad and Niger enjoy.

“Buhari’s visit should help ease the climate of mistrust between Cameroon and Nigeria,” said Njoya Moussa, a Cameroonian political analyst.

“I pray that they should talk about security because mostly it’s what we need here in Cameroon and Nigeria,” said Doris Onuorah, a Nigerian business woman in Yaounde.

South Africa – what the people’s money bought for Zuma at Nkandla

Mail and Guardian

South Africans finally get a peek into the homestead that has captured the public’s imagination for the past five years.

The swimming pool, amphitheatre, chicken run and cattle kraal in particular raised the ire of the public. (Rogan Ward, Reuters)

A media tour of Nkandla on Sunday gave South Africans the first ever opportunity, in five years of slow-dragging scandal, to put pictures to some of the state-funded infrastructure built inside President Jacob Zuma’s private rural compound.

Few South Africans found themselves impressed with what their money had bought.

The Mail & Guardian was one of the investigative newspapers not invited on the tour, but News24 provided these photographs by Matthew Middleton.

The amphitheatre
Cost: Undetermined
The amphitheatre flows out of a state-built visitors’ centre in what struck public protector Thuli Madonsela as a clear attempt to create an entertainment area for the Zuma family’s use. A succession of government reports, most lately from Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, insists it is a purely functional soil-retention mechanism.

The cost of the amphitheatre has not yet been determined and neither the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) nor the public protector hazarded an estimate of its cost, because payments for its construction came out of other, larger sub-projects including landscaping, road construction, paving, civil works and soil rehabilitation. Much of the work was paid for without any breakdown on how payments were calculated.

Notably, the terraced sections between steps were originally covered with grass and were only planted with aloes some time between 2012, when documents still described the area as a sectioned lawn, and the creation of a 2014 government report that held it impossible to be used as a seating area, in part because the terraces contained plants.

The chicken run
Cost: In the low hundreds of thousands of rands
The security argument for building a chicken run is that the Zuma family used to have a number of different accommodations for chickens about the property, all of which would qualify as informal housing. The problem with this was twofold: these structures provided spots hidden from patrols, lights and cameras, and they allowed chickens easy exit to roam into areas where they could trigger security sensors, thus better accommodations were required.

Nobody has a particular problem with this reasoning. The SIU has not sought to reclaim the money spent on the chicken run and Madonsela has not identified it as an undue improvement in and of itself.

But the chicken run was treated as an adjunct to the building of a large cattle kraal with a private exit from the complex. The entire shebang cost around R1.2-million, a number that is not broken down into the cost of a culvert (a considerable engineering work), the large kraal and the smaller chicken run. That R1.2-million cost was, in turn, bundled under “general site works”.

The kraal, Zuma told Madonsela during her investigations, had been a request of his because his herd was growing. As such, and considering the huge cost of it, she found he should repay a portion of the cost as he had initially committed to do.

The swimming pool
Cost: An undetermined portion between R2.82-million and R3.96-million
Although it took up well below 2% of the total amount spent on Nkandla, the state-built swimming pool has captured the public imagination more than any other feature, not least because of the state-created neologism used to defend it: firepool.

Although popularly referred to as a R3.9-million pool, that number is wildly inaccurate. As with other contentious features, the cost of the pool was bundled into a larger sub-project, in this case a “VIP parking area” for the use of the president and first ladies, and invoices indicate that the parking area took up a large portion of the money. The SIU calculated that the parking-and-pool expenditure came to R3 964 239. The public protector calculated the cost of the combo at R2 819 051.66.

This was, of course, considerably more than would have been paid for a functional water reservoir to aid in fire-fighting, which security assessments found necessary.

Documentation and testimony around the swimming pool did a great deal to undermine Zuma’s insistence, on many occasions, that he had not been aware of the scale or details of construction work at his home. Architect Minenhle Makhanya and Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, at the time deputy minister of public works, had at various stages supposedly conferred with Zuma about the swimming pool design, in one instance because of concerns that it held cost implications for him.


Angola crackdown fails to silence criticism

Democracy in Africa

 

Justin Pearce explores the growing number of voices criticising Angola’s regime, and the persecution that they have faced. Justin is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the centre for Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge. 

Fifteen activists have now been in prison without charge in Angola for more than a month. Their detention represents the latest in a number of incidents that have demonstrated the MPLA government’s difficulties in dealing with opposition, and has emboldened others inside and outside Angola to start making their voices heard.

Thirteen young men were detained on 20 June after they met as a reading group to discuss books about non-violent activism. Police searched houses, seized phones and computers, and detained two more activists within 48 hours. All fifteen remain in custody at various locations in Luanda. They include two of the most iconic figures in Angolan youth politics: Luaty Beirão, the hip-hop artist whose call for Dos Santos to step down in 2011 sparked Angola’s first ever anti-government protests, and Manuel Nito Alves who in 2013, aged only 17, was held in solitary confinement for more than a month for possessing t-shirts with a slogan that described President José Eduardo dos Santos as a ‘disgusting dictator’. Amnesty International has condemned the detention of the fifteen as ‘yet another attempt by the Angolan authorities to intimidate anyone who has a differing view in the country,’ and called for the release of ‘the detained activists, who are prisoners of conscience.’ Lawyers for the group are seeking a habeus corpus writ to secure their clients’ release.

Three more human rights activists and a journalist were themselves held in custody for a whole day when they went to visit some of the detainees. In a separate incident, activist-journalist José Gama was questioned by criminal investigators whose questions included whether Gama was a friend of another activist-journalist, Rafael Marques. Meanwhile in the oil-producing exclave province of Cabinda, activist Marcos Mavungo has been in detention since March, and is said to be in urgent need of medical attention. In Benguela, four members of the civil rights group Omunga received death threats by text message. From the diamond-producing Lunda region, it emerged last week that Rafael Muambumba, a member of the obscure but harmless Lunda Tchokwe Protectorate Movement, had been held in prison for almost a month and beaten by police.

All this appears to be the result of anxiety by a regime that sees its grip on society threatened as a downturn in global oil prices weakens the lines of patronage created during the oil boom that followed the end of the Angolan civil war in 2002. But the arrest of the activists has had the unintended consequence of eliciting critical responses from a wider range of people than was the case before. The fifteen detainees were part of an activist network that, in the last four years, has remained synonymous with a small number of brave individuals, from differing social classes, but almost exclusively young and male. The reaction to the detentions has shown that dissent can continue even while the best-known activists sit in prison. A demonstration is planned for 29 July in Luanda. Angolans in the diaspora and their allies have been protesting outside foreign embassies. Paulo Flores, one of Angola’s best-known musicians, and the writers José Eduardo Agualusa and Ondjaki are among prominent cultural figures who have united behind the call to free the fifteen.

Inside Angola, anger at the detentions is the culmination of growing public concern over a sequence of events this year. In April, an unknown number of people were killed in a police raid on the encampment of a religious sect at Mount Sumi in Huambo province. Although the killings were not overtly political in motivation and some sect members were armed, video evidence has shown police attacking unarmed sect members. The incident speaks of discomfort in Angola around any kind of mobilisation – albeit religious – that does not have the explicit approval of the state. The government has refused calls for an independent inquiry into the incident.

In May, Rafael Marques received a suspended prison sentence for criminal libel, the consequence of his investigation into human rights abuses in the diamond industry in Lunda-Norte province. The case against Marques was brought by a group of generals close to the Angolan presidency, who own mining concessions and the security companies whose staff were implicated by Marques in the murder and torture of local residents in Lunda-Norte.

The killings at Mount Sumi became known thanks to the efforts of civil society activists in Huambo, and Marques’s trial captured the imagination of some unlikely sections of Angolan society: policemen guarding the court were among those battling to get their hands on copies of his book, which he was distributing. Social media, which was essential to the organisation of the early protests back in 2011, is seeing ever more material being posted by a wider range of users. The foundation of a new online magazine, Rede Angola (Network Angola), which features investigation and analysis by leading Angolan writers, has given some intellectual heft to critiques of the regime.

It is important to put all this in perspective. Just as the relatively small street protests that began in 2011 were impressive mostly for the fact that previously there had been no protests at all, so the novelty of this recent activity in the public sphere must not be seen as heralding immediate change. Recent repression may be a sign of fear inside the regime, but the absence of a popular opposition leader with a clear alternative vision for Angola means that Dos Santos’s position is still stronger than that of Robert Mugabe in 2008, for example. Opposition parties have been left trailing behind civil society in their responses to events: a reflection of the weakness of Angola’s formal political institutions. The volume of the dialogue, however, makes Angola look like a different place from what it was a decade ago.

 

Nigeria and US press reset button on relations

African Arguments

By Lagun Akinloye

LagunAkinloye (3)The four day official visit to the United States embarked upon by President Muhammadu Buhari drew to a close last Wednesday as he arrived back in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. The trip, heralded as a thaw in relations between both countries, was aimed at repairing and renewing a partnership that had faltered during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan.

Buhari and his visiting delegation were greeted with pomp and pageantry reminiscent of the visit of President Shehu Shagari to the White House on the invitation of Jimmy Carter in 1980. Carter would describe Nigeria as “one of the greatest democracies on Earth”, adding that both countries shared “a great deal”. And though a lot has changed since then, the warmth in which Buhari was received signifies an attempt at resetting the once strong relationship.

With a new wave of cordiality between both countries, the gravity of Buhari’s need for assistance in effectively suppressing Boko Haram was not lost on either party. President Obama also took the opportunity to stabilize the US’s waning influence in the region by shoring up an alliance with Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy.

From East to West

Since the assent of former President Goodluck Jonathan to the Nigerian presidency in 2009 there has been a seeming political shift towards the east. Political differences, oil installation sabotage and the boom in shale gas production severed the reliance of the US on Nigerian oil, opening the doors to competing interests.

2014 oil export figures saw India replace the US as the single largest importer of crude oil from the country in 2014. Sales to the US fell from 1,000,000 barrels per day in 2013 to zero by January 2015. This signalled the first time since 1973 that the US did not import oil from Nigeria.

China, whose influence in the Nigeria has risen in recent years, has continued to heavily invest in infrastructural projects in Nigeria whilst providing generous soft loans to the federal and state governments. Their expanding reach into the oil industry culminated in the purchases of lucrative offshore oil reserves, and the acquisition of French major Total’s stake in the OML 138 oil block at a cost of $2.5bn in 2013, thus cementing their presence in the country.

A further schism between the Jonathan administration and the White House occurred when the US blocked the sales of Israeli Apache helicopters to Nigeria in December 2014, with The New York Times reporting “concerns in Washington about Nigeria’s ability to use and maintain that type of helicopter in its effort against Boko Haram, and continuing worries about Nigeria’s protection of civilians when conducting military operations.” This led to the cancellation of joint US military training program by Nigeria and the order of similar weaponry from America’s perennial arch-rival’s Russia, who happily obliged.

The US had seemingly lost faith in Nigeria, citing the government’s inability to stem the growing tide of corruption, numerous human rights abuses in the fight against Boko Haram and dislike of the country’s new friends, bringing their relations to their lowest ebb.

Building Bridges

In the run up to the April election, US Secretary of State John Kerry visited both presidential candidates Jonathan and Buhari in Abuja and made it clear “The US. government strongly believes in Nigeria having credible, free and fair elections next month,” and relayed the wishes of President Obama for “a violence-free election”.

Buhari’s four day official visit underscored the importance the US attached to restoring good relations with Nigeria. During a meeting hosted in the Oval Office, President Obama praised Buhari for having “a very clear agenda in defeating Boko Haram and a very clear agenda in terms of rooting out corruption,”. Buhari also thanked the US for the support they gave Nigeria during what many had wrongly predicted would be a turbulent and possibly violent election.

The visit afforded Buhari the opportunity to meet major US industry players and organizations, which resulted in a $2.1bn loan by the World Bank to help rebuild parts of the North East of Nigeria ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency, and a pledge of $300m by the World Health Organization (WHO) to invest on immunisation against malaria. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also signed a partnership with the Dangote Foundation to help eradicate polio in the country.

In addition, a meeting with Loretta Lynch, the US Attorney-General, culminated in a promise to assist Nigeria in recovering an estimated $150-200bn worth of assets stolen in the past 10 years and hidden outside of Nigeria, one of Buhari’s main campaign promises.

A friend in need

Yet questions still remain whether the trip produced the desired results with the National Publicity Secretary of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh, declaring “nothing whatsoever has been learnt or gained.”

Nigeria failed to extract firm assurances from the US on military assistance and entered in a minor diplomatic spat as Senator Patrick Leahy reiterated the fact the Nigerian army must curb their gross human rights violations before pointing fingers at the US for not providing advanced weaponry. Leahy asked the Nigerian president in a post that appeared on his website to “face up to his own responsibility to effectively counter Boko Haram.”

An opportunity to prop up Nigeria’s faltering economy may have also been missed as Buhari travelled to the US without a strong trade delegation due to the delay in fashioning his economic policy and cabinet appointments.

Positives can still to be drawn from the rapprochement between Nigeria and the US, as the conversation between both countries has encouragingly changed. Buhari’s invitation to the G7 summit in June and the subsequent visit to the US signifies their willingness and that of the international community in helping Nigeria achieve its developmental goals.

But how honest are their intentions and commitment to Nigeria, whose growing trade with China exceeded $16 billion in 2014? In fact, this underscores that a renewed alliance with Nigeria is strategically important for the US.

The Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Benjamin Ezra Dikki, stated that Nigeria needed $113bn worth of domestic and foreign investment over the next 6 years to fix decaying infrastructure in three critical sectors of the economy which include oil and gas power generation and rail/road transportation – in which the US is now expected to play a big part.

And when placed alongside Nigeria’s request for technical assistance and military hardware in order to effectively combat the Boko Haram insurgency, the coming months will determine if America’s favourable attitude to the Buhari administration is purely for geo-political advantage and influence or whether they are truly willing to help Nigeria discover its unfulfilled potential.

Lagun Akinloye is a journalist and Nigerian political analyst.

Nigeria – US gave Buhari the names of “oil thieves”

Punch

President Muhammadu Buhari

The United States of America has handed over the names of Nigerian oil thieves to President Muhammadu Buhari, a member of the President’s entourage during last week’s visit to the US confided in The PUNCH on Tuesday.

“I can tell you that the President already has the list of names of the people engaging in the stealing of Nigeria’s oil. The list, when released by the President, will shock Nigerians. But let’s wait and see first,” the source said.

The source said Buhari was taken aback when he saw the names on the list and that the list given to the President by the US might compel him to probe the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

A Presidency source also confirmed that Buhari had such a list but that “the President has been keeping the list to himself.”

The source, who told our correspondent about the list in the President’s possession, said the US gave Buhari two separate lists – one listing the names of top government officials who have been stealing the country’s oil, using their high offices to perpetrate the stealing; and the other containing the names of illegal oil bunkerers.

The President had said last week that some ministers in the cabinet of Jonathan were stealing as much as 250,000 barrels of Nigeria’s crude daily.

The Presidency source, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said Buhari had vowed that those whose names appeared on the list would not go scot-free.

“The President will probe all of them and make sure they return whatever fortune they had made from their thievery,” the source said.

The source said the President was already tinkering with the idea of constituting a panel to investigate those on the list with a view to arriving at how to deal with them based on the findings of the committee.

However, it was gathered that, unlike the usual probe panels, the President would likely set up a special security team to handle the probe.

The PUNCH learnt that the names on the list of oil thieves are a mixture of highly placed government officials, and retired and serving military officers.

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress said on Tuesday that it supported the probe of the Jonathan administration by Buhari in the light of mind-boggling corruption that had been uncovered by the Federal Government.

“Some people have insinuated that the Buhari administration should ignore the massive looting of our patrimony and move on. We say no responsible government can afford to do that, because it will amount to endorsing corruption and impunity,’’ the party said in a statement issued in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

The APC said billions of dollars had been skimmed off by “pathologically-corrupt public officials” in the oil sector alone, wondering how the government of the day could meet its obligations to the citizens if it refused to recover the huge funds taken away by thieving officials

Mohammed’s statement read, ‘‘It is an irony that those who are suggesting that the Buhari administration should turn a blind eye to the incomprehensible looting are the same ones accusing the government of not doing anything.

“It is even a cruel irony that the same party that presided over what is fast emerging as the worst governance in the history of our country is the same one that is daily bad-mouthing an administration that is cleaning up its mess.

‘‘Where does one start from? Is it the fact that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation failed to remit N3.8tn to the Federation Account or the mind-blowing stealing of 250,000 barrels of crude oil per day?

“Is it the fact that the NNPC itself does not know how many bank accounts it had or into which ones the payments for Nigerian crude are made? Could anyone have imagined that a government minister would steal the unprecedentedly-huge amount of US $6bn of public funds as being alleged?

‘‘How does any sane person rationalise the fact that $1bn was unilaterally and illegally withdrawn from the Excess Crude Account just because, as the immediate past Minister of Finance has disclosed, the President ordered the withdrawal? What about the billions of naira waivers recklessly approved to dubious importers by the Jonathan administration?”

It added, ‘‘Is it not clear now that the stealing and the profligacy – more than anything else, including the fall in oil price – helped to drastically reduce the monthly allocation from the Federation Account from about N800bn to about N400bn , thus pauperising the states and the local governments, and by extension the citizenry?

“Against the background of the stunning revelations, what message will any government be sending to its citizens and indeed the global community by looking the other way, when it could still recover some of the looted funds for the benefit of the people?

“This is why we are supporting the Buhari administration’s probe decision and we are calling on all Nigerians to support ongoing efforts to get to the root of the matter.”

The APC said it was clear that the Jonathan administration had deliberately delayed giving the then incoming Buhari government the handover notes so as to avoid being asked critical questions pertaining to the looting under its watch.

Also, the Peoples Democratic Party said it was on the same page with Buhari in the fight against corruption, but that due process must be followed.

The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, in Abuja on Tuesday, said the clarification became necessary so as to remove any misconception that it was against the decision of the present administration to probe some past officials of government because they were PDP members.

Metuh said, “The PDP supports the decision of the Federal Government to fight corruption in our country.

“However, we make bold to state that it should not be disguised to victimise innocent citizens. Democracy has come to stay in Nigeria and no citizen, irrespective of political, religious or ethnic affiliation, should be denied access to due process and the rule of law in the process.”

He added, “Furthermore, we make bold to state that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. In that regard, therefore, we advise members of the APC blowing the horn ahead of the cart to keep quiet because many of them have been major beneficiaries of corruption and sleaze associated with themselves and their allies, especially one of them who as a disguised errand boy of a well-known APC leader is a major beneficiary of the largesse of perpetrators of corruption.

“Apart from Mr. President, who for now, is not associated with any sleaze or corrupt activity in this democracy, most APC leaders are still those who as governors, ministers and labour leaders have been the worst corrupt set of Nigerians ever to bestride the political landscape of the country.

“It is a great miscarriage of perception therefore for the APC leaders who are perpetrators of sleaze and corrupt acts to attempt to deceive Nigerians with imaginary holiness in this anti-corruption war by the President.”

Consequently, he called on the President, as the leader of the APC to remove the log in the eyes of his party while “we support his commitment to remove the speck from the eyes of others.”

Copyright PUNCH.

Nigeria – 25 killed by Boko Haram in Borno State

Reuters

At least 25 people were killed by suspected Boko Haram Islamist militants in raids on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning on three communities in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state, military and police sources said.

Fighters in pick-up trucks attacked the town of Dille and two smaller communities in the Askira/Uba area in Borno state about 250 km (160 miles) south of Maiduguri the capital of Borno state and the epicentre of the insurgency.

Vigilantes resisted the attack on Dille that came around 1 p.m. local time (1200 GMT), the sources said.

A police source who declined to be named said the attacks on the smaller nearby communities came early on Tuesday.

Boko Haram has been trying to carve out an Islamist state in the northeast of Nigeria for the last six years. It controlled large swathes of territory in three states last year before being pushed out of the major towns it controlled.

The militants have dispersed into various pockets across Borno state, notably along the Niger border near Damasak, Lake Chad, the Sambisa forest reserve and around the Mandara mountain range that borders Cameroon.

Borno state governor Kashim Shettima said this month that seven local government areas out of 27 were “largely inaccessible because these lunatics called Boko Haram still move up and down the areas”.

On Tuesday, the European Union said that about 800 people are reported to have been killed in the countries around Lake Chad. Nigeria and its neighbours, increasingly targeted by the insurgents, are setting up new headquarters for their multi-national joint taskforce in Chad’s N’Djamena.

A Reuters tally showed that more than 600 people had been killed in Nigeria alone since President Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration at the end of May, when he promised to make getting rid of Boko Haram his top priority.

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