Category Archives: Africa – International

Nigeria – Boko Haram tries to spread into Lagos

BBC

Nigerian soldiers clearing Boko Haram camps at in Borno State, Nigeria - 30 July 2015
Image captionThe Nigerian army has mainly been fighting Boko Haram in the country’s north-east

Boko Haram is trying to expand its activities beyond Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north, to include the commercial capital Lagos, as well as other parts of the country, officials say.

Twelve members of the Islamist militant group have been arrested in Lagos, Nigeria’s intelligence agency says.

It is not possible to independently verify details of the statement.

Boko Haram has waged a six-year insurgency in Nigeria, mainly confined to the north-east of the country.

Reports say that more than 50 people were killed in a suspected Boko Haram attack in north-eastern Borno State on Friday, about 100km (62 miles) north of the state capital Maiduguri.


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

Mali – clan conflict within Tuareg an obstacle to peace deal

Reuters

The leader of the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), Mohamed Ag Najim (R), leads his men in prayer outside Anefis, Mali, August 26, 2015. The United Nations has deployed 10,000 peacekeepers and poured more than $1 billion into Mali but its efforts to end a three-year…
REUTERS/SOULEYMANE AG ANARA

The United Nations has deployed 10,000 peacekeepers and poured more than $1 billion (£650 million) into Mali but its efforts to end a three-year conflict are threatened by the reemergence of a centuries-old rivalry between Tuareg clans.

The U.N. Security Council renewed the mandate of its Mali force (MINUSMA) in June in the hope that it could enforce a peace deal signed that month in the West African nation, despite suffering the highest rate of losses of any active peacekeeping mission.

The deal, signed by both pro- and anti-government Tuareg-led militias, envisaged the overhaul of the Malian army to incorporate the militia fighters and its return to the desert north, much of which is controlled by the Tuareg groups.

The army’s redeployment is supposed to allow it to tackle Islamist militants scattered, but not defeated, by French troops after they hijacked a Tuareg rebellion in 2012.

Now, a resurgence in fighting between the Tuaregs, who in total represent just 5 percent of Mali’s 15 million people, could wreck everything.

Diplomats say buy-in from the northern armed groups was always weak because the Algeria-brokered deal, reached after months of shuttle diplomacy, was seen as a foreign imposition.

“The fundamental problem is that participants don’t think this agreement can resolve the tensions that have always existed in the north,” said Jean-Herve Jezequel, senior Sahel analyst at International Crisis Group.

“They think that it’s really the force of arms that counts.”

In defiance of the peace agreement, the Platform alliance of pro-government militias has been seizing territory in northern Mali and taking revenge on its rival while authorities in Bamako look the other way, security sources say.

The leader of the main pro-government militia GATIA, General El Hadj Ag Gamou, is a former mercenary who fought for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and a member of the Imghad clan.

Power tipped away from the Inghads in favour of the Ifogha clan when fighters from Libya returned after the 2011 revolution to form a state they call Azawad. Arabs have also picked sides and some former jihadists have joined them.

Clashes broke out between Gamou’s militia and the Ifogha-led separatist alliance, the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), this month about 80 kilometres southwest of rebel stronghold Kidal, killing at least 20 people.

Sources in Kidal have reported an influx of fighters in recent days in pick-up trucks from Libya and Algeria, resulting in a possible CMA counter-attack.

“We will defend ourselves and our populations,” CMA leader Bilal Ag Cherif told Reuters this week.

FORCED DISPLACEMENT

MINUSMA sources tracking compliance with the peace deal said they first noticed GATIA troops moving north towards Kidal in early July.

Initial findings of the U.N. human rights team backed by MINUSMA aerial footage seen by Reuters show forced displacements and daylight executions of rival clansmen by GATIA forces in several villages in the Gao region.

GATIA’s Secretary General Fahad Ag Almahoud denies responsibility for the incidents, saying they are due to “intercommunal tensions”.

“We think the Malian army should hurry up and return and normalise the situation,” he told Reuters. CMA fighters are also accused of arrests and looting in the same area before June.

Security sources and analysts say old rivalries are being stirred by competition for control of trafficking corridors for both cocaine and legal goods like food and cigarettes north to Algeria and east to Niger.

“Gamou would like to get back the position he had before the rebellion with control over trafficking. He wants a fiefdom,” said Profesor Jeremy Keenan, editor of Menas Associates’ Sahara Focus publication.

Expansion may benefit armed groups if the peace deal proceeds as key army posts and development funding are expected to be distributed to Tuareg and Arab communities.

U.N. Special Envoy for the Mali mission, Mongi Hamdi, estimates that implementing the deal will cost an additional $1-$2 billion over two-three years.

While Gamou is ostensibly loyal to Bamako, analysts say he is unlikely to take direct orders. Many believe that even though President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s government has condemned the occupation of Anefis, it is quite happy to allow GATIA to do its dirty work in the north.

“The government doesn’t want peace in the north,” said Keenan. “It wants its own back on the rebels and is thanking its lucky stars GATIA is there.”

“PRISONERS IN THEIR OWN VILLAGES”

Worsening security in the north is slowing the return of the army and government officials who have been forced to leave Kidal. MINUSMA, seen as a soft target for Islamist militants, has camps in major towns but a weak presence in the desert.

Aid workers are struggling to deliver help to the more than 3 million Malians deemed food insecure, including tens of thousands displaced by fighting.

“People are prisoners in their own villages,” said Eric Bertin Mukam, a human rights officer with MINUSMA in Gao.

Despite more than 3 billion euros in aid pledged for reconstruction at Keita’s election in 2013, the streets of Gao are so full of potholes that cars take a parallel dirt track.

Kidal’s airport runway is shut because it is heavily mined, security sources say.

MINUSMA is implementing a series of “rapid impact projects” to improve infrastructure, access to healthcare and electricity.

But many are not seeing the effects.

“I don’t know who my state is,” said Farock Ag Foukana, deputy mayor of Talataye, near Gao. “I haven’t seen any authorities. Since 2012, there is nothing.”

Nigeria – 68 villagers killed by Boko Haram in Borno

Vanguard

Boko Haram kills 68 in Borno village

on August 31, 2015   /   in News 7:03 am   /   Comments

By Ndahi Marama

MAIDUGURI—At least 68 people were killed while several others sustained injuries as Boko Haram insurgents invaded Baanu Village in Nganzai local government area of Borno State on Friday night.

boko-haram-3

A resident of the area, Yuram Musa, who fled to Maiduguri to avoid the attack, said the insurgents came on horses at about 8:30 shooting sporadically and killing everyone they came across.

He said: “We had to flee into the bush and hide and after they left, we return back to pick some of our belongings. I counted 68 corpses, some were slaughtered, while others were with gunshot wounds. The number of those killed is worrisome as corpses littered the streets of the village.

“Government should do something, otherwise, these Boko Haram members will continue to kill innocent citizens. Every surrounded villages, which is five kilometres away from Gajiram, the headquarters of Nganzai, had been taken over by the insurgents, as most of them are residing around the area.’’

Confirming the attack, the Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, while addressing the parents of the abducted Chibok girls over the weekend, said the insurgents killed 56 persons at Nganzai village.

“The Boko Haram crisis is a calamity that befalls us as the insurgents do not discriminate whether somebody is Christian or a Muslim nor tribal affiliations.

“Just yesterday, they killed 56 people at Baanu village of Nganzai local government. As I am speaking to you, their corpses are still littered on the streets of the village,” the governor said.

Nigeria – SSS arrests leading Boko Haram meb ers in Enugu and Lagos

Premium Times

Boko Haram new

The State Security Service, SSS, has stated that it arrested over a dozen Boko Haram leaders in the past two months including nine in Lagos and one in Enugu State.

The SSS, also known as DSS, said this in a statement by its spokesperson, Tony Opuiyo, on Sunday.

Mr. Opuiyo said “the sudden influx of Boko Haram members into Lagos State points to the determination of the sect to extend its nefarious terrorist activities to the State and in fact, other parts of the country.”

The Boko Haram, whose terrorist activities has caused the death of about 20,000 people, has only carried out attacks in Northern Nigeria, particularly in the north-east.

According to the spokesperson, “the arrest of these confessed terrorist elements has however helped in no small measure to avert devastating attacks in the area.”

Read the full SSS statement below:

In line with the Department of State Services’, DSS, re-strategised Counter Terrorism measures to combat the menace of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, the Service has continued to make significant breakthroughs in this direction. This followed the rounding up of notable commanders and frontline members of the notorious group from different parts of the country. It should be noted that the group’s new pattern of movement and spread is necessitated by the pressure being put on them in their core areas of strength in the North East.

2. Consequently, a number of them have been arrested in Lagos, Kano, Plateau, Enugu and Gombe States between July 8 and August 25, 2015. Of particular note was the arrest on July 8, 2015 in Gombe State of those responsible for the coordination and execution of the suicide attacks in Potiskum, Kano, Zaria and Jos. They are:

Usman SHUAIBU (a. k. a. Money):
3. SHUAIBU revealed that he coordinated the attacks under reference with the sum of N500,000 which was provided by his Amir, one Isa ALI. He claimed that the said Isa ALI has links to the leader of the Boko Haram sect, Abubakar SHEKAU, from where he collects monies to fund operations undertaken by their Markaz.  Also, he revealed that he has participated in several Boko Haram attacks, including the attacks at Gwoza Divisional Police Station in 2014.

4.  SHUAIBU admitted being the leader of the team of nine (9) sect members that was dispatched from Sambisa Forest to carry out the attacks. He disclosed that four out of the nine of them were used as suicide bombers in executing all the (suicide) attacks.

Ahmed MOHAMMED (aka ABUBAKAR):
5. Suspect, an IED expert, confessed to the preparation of the IEDs used for the mentioned attacks. He also averred that he was the one who strapped the suicide bombers, notably SULE and his wives, with IED vests, which they used in the attacks in Jos.

Adamu ABDULLAHI (aka Babpa)
6. Suspect confessed that Usman SHUAIBU motivated him to work closely with Ahmed MOHAMMED (aka ABUBAKAR) in the preparation of the IEDs used in the attacks under reference.

Ibrahim ISA
7. Suspect confessed that he was the one who carried out reconnaissance on the targets in Jos ahead of the attacks.

Muttaqa YUSUF (aka Mohammed SANI/Mudtaka):

8. Suspect disclosed that one ALIYU, believed to be Aliyu GOMBE, in Sambisa forest, was the one that ordered the serial attacks which the syndicate carried out. He further confessed that he assisted Usman SHUAIBU in planning and executing the said attacks.

9. Other arrests include:
i. Bakura MODU:- He was arrested on July 20, 2015, at Kara, Isheri Berger, Ikeja LGA, Lagos State;

ii. Mustapha Alli JAMNERI:- He was  arrested on July 24, 2015, at Gowon Estate, Egbeda, Alimosho LGA, Lagos State;

iii. Abuyi SHERRIFF:- suspect was arrested on August 7, 2015, at Ebute-Metta, Lagos Mainland LGA, Lagos State;

iv. Babagana ALI and Babagana KOLOYE:- were arrested same day (August 7, 2015), at Eric Moore, Bode Thomas Street, Surulere LGA, Lagos State;

v. Abba Modu SAGMA: He was arrested on August 9, 2015, at Ijora Badiya, Apapa LGA, Lagos State;

vi. Grema ABUBAKAR and Tijani BAGUDU: were arrested on August 10, 2015, at Amukoko, Ijora Badiya, Apapa LGA, Lagos State;

vii. Baba Alhaji and Abass IBRAHIM:- were arrested earlier on the same day (August 10, 2015), at Alaba International Market, Alaba, Ojo LGA, Lagos State;

viii. IBRAHIM AUDU: Suspect was arrested on August 192015, at New Artisan Market, Enugu, Enugu State;

ix. Ibrahim HARUNA: The 30-year old suspect from  Kanawa village, Sumaila LGA, Kano State was arrested on August 21, 2015, at Kwomi village, Kwami Local Government Area, Gombe State;

x. Mal Ali MOHAMMODU: The 33-year-old suspect was arrested on August 22, 2015, at Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Fagga LGA in Kano State;

xi.   Adam Wakil Abdul JILBE: was arrested on August 23, 2015, at  Obanikoro Area, Mushin LGA, Lagos State; and

xii. Mohammed USMAN: was arrested on August 25, 2015, at  Atuashe Estate, Gbagada, Kosofe LGA, Lagos State.

10.  Nigerians and indeed the general public have to note that the arrest of Usman SHUAIBU aka Money and the core members of his cell, stemmed the spate of bombings by the extremist sect. It would be recalled that MONEY and his group were arrested on their way to Bauchi State where they had planned to execute another heart-rending bomb attack and this was frustrated by the arrest.

Furthermore, the sudden influx of Boko Haram members into Lagos State points to the determination of the sect to extend its nefarious terrorist activities to the State and in fact, other parts of the country.

The arrest of these confessed terrorist elements has however helped in no small measure to avert devastating attacks in the area. However, the Service is making efforts to conclude its investigations and commence prosecution of the suspects.

11. Drawing from the above, the DSS reiterates its avowed determination to work with other stakeholders in the fight against terror and other forms of criminality in our country. Citizens and residents are therefore called upon to rise to the occasion by volunteering useful information to the Service and relevant security agencies.

Tony Opuiyo
Department of State Services

South Africa – partial Koeberg shutdown will hit power supplies

Mail and Guardian

Koeberg power station will be shutting down for three months on Tuesday for maintenance, adding more impact to the shortage of power.

Koeberg Power Station. (AFP)

While the addition of a much-needed 800 megawatts of energy to the South African grid is to be celebrated, it should be remembered that a section of Koeberg will shut down on Tuesday, taking with it 900 megawatts of power.

“Koeberg unit two is shutting down for three months for refueling and maintenance,” says Chris Yelland, energy analysts and director of EE Publishers. The publishing house publishes EngineerIT, Energize, Vector and PositionITmagazines.

“So in effect, now, the impact of what would have been an 900 megawatt shortage is now, with the addition of the Medupi unit, a one hundred megawatt deficit.”

Yelland says consumers should also bear in mind that unplanned maintenance breaks have resulted in about 4 000 megawatts coming off the grid in the past few months, making it difficult to overplay the importance of the 800 megawatts the recently opened Medupi unit will provide. Medupi’s unit six in Lephalale, Limpopo was officially opened yesterday by state president Jacob Zuma, in what is the first baseload station to be built in 20 years by Eskom.

The construction started in 2007 but strikes, ballooning costs and technical glitches have immeasurably hampered its completion. It is expected to be completed in 2019. Kusile, currently being constructed in Mpumalanga, is due to be completed in 2021.  Molefe promised a strict adherence to guidelines moving forward.

Medupi’s first synchronisation took place in March, which meant that the unit was gradually being ramped up to the required 800 megawatts of power while undergoing tests and check ups. It reached full power in May although this was still not seamless.  “For Eskom to accept handover, it has to be running for 24 hours a day without tripping out, and that’s what they’ve been doing for the past few weeks, Yelland said.

The lack of load shedding in the past few weeks could probably be attributed to the dip in industrial demand due to winter shutdowns, which was likely to pick up again for the spring and summer season as the industries look to replenish their energy stockpiles, Yelland added. The shutdowns are attributable to the rise in electricity prices during the season.

In his opening remarks at the opening, Zuma said “pressure is being alleviated on the national electricity system to prevent or minimise load shedding. This is a very important milestone in Eskom’s growth trajectory towards the 4 800 megawatt capacity that must be achieved at the completion of the other five units …

“The coming onto stream of Unit 6 takes place at a most opportune moment for our country, during a difficult global and domestic economic climate. The GDP growth has contracted by 1.3% in the second quarter of 2015 after growing by 1.3% in the first quarter of 2015. Growth contracted in all sectors except for personal services and general government services.”


Sierra Leone – American arrested in Spain on blood diamond charges

Reuters

American arrested on Sierra Leone ‘blood diamond’ charges

Spanish authorities have arrested a American man on charges of enslavement and diamond pillaging during Sierra Leone’s civil war, a victims’ association said on Saturday.

Michel Desaedeleer, who has U.S. and Belgian citizenship, is suspected of forcing enslaved civilians to mine for diamonds in Sierra Leone’s eastern district of Kono between 1999-2001, according to Swiss-based Civitas Maxima.

During Sierra Leone’s long conflict, the diamonds were sent to neighbouring Liberia where former President Charles Taylor used the proceeds to finance weapons for rebels.

“(The case) will help to raise awareness of the pivotal role played by financial actors in the trade of mineral resources that fuel armed conflicts in Africa and elsewhere,” said Alain Werner, director of Civitas Maxima, which has been working for years to document the crimes and assist victims.

A Belgian investigation led to a European arrest warrant being issued against Desaedeleer earlier this year. He is normally resident in the United States.

More than 50,000 people died in the 11-year conflict and many more were left maimed by the notorious Revolutionary United Front. Taylor is now serving a 50-year sentence for war crimes.

South Sudan – what hope of peace after Kiir and Machar sign

East African

Kiir, Machar declare ceasefire in South Sudan amid disagreement in camps

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Dr Riek Machar have declared a ceasefire beginning midnight of August 29. This was one of the requirement of the agreement where both parties were to declare a ceasefire within 72 hours of the signing. FILE PHOTO | TEA GRAPHIC  

By FRED OLUOCH, TEA Special Correspondent

IN SUMMARY

  • For Dr Machar however his breakaway generals have vowed to continue fighting both the government and the rebels on the grounds that he was simply looking for government positions.
  • Dr Cirino Hiteng, one of the former detainees, told The EastAfrican that there is no political will in Juba, beginning with the reluctance to sign the agreement in Addis Ababa on August 17.
  • Igad will monitor compliance and report directly to the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission on the implementation of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements during the transition period.

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Dr Riek Machar have declared a ceasefire beginning midnight of August 29. This was one of the requirement of the agreement where both parties were to declare a ceasefire within 72 hours of the signing.

For Dr Machar however his breakaway generals have vowed to continue fighting both the government and the rebels on the grounds that he was simply looking for government positions.

One of those opposed to the deal, Chief of General Staff Paul Malong, tried unsuccessfully to persuade some of the members of the Cabinet to reject the deal during Monday’s expanded leadership meeting involving state governors, and members of the allied political parties inside and outside the government.

During the signing on Wednesday evening, Gen Malong was confined in his house in Juba, reportedly under house arrest, while Information Minister Michael Makuei reportedly walked out when President Kiir was about to sign the document.

Dr Cirino Hiteng, one of the former detainees, told The EastAfrican that there is no political will in Juba, beginning with the reluctance to sign the agreement in Addis Ababa on August 17. The other challenge, he says, is meeting deadlines as per the agreement, for example, convening a workshop on security and the establishment of a unified command.

“President Kiir’s supporters dread the idea of Dr Machar coming back to the government and displacing Vice President James Wani Igga, for the second time. The other major issue is the integration of two armies. Forming a unified army that’s not tribally based will not be easy,” said Kiur Garang, an author based in Camada.

On the rebel side, Gene Peter Gatdet Yaak, who was dropped from his post of director for operations in the rebel movement, is opposed to the deal and remains holed up in Khartoum, raising fears that he could mobilise his forces to undermine the implementation of the peace deal.

The existing Igad Monitoring and Verification Mechanism will transform itself into the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism and will report on the progress of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements (PCTSA).

It will monitor compliance and report directly to the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission on the implementation of the PCTSA during the transition period.

One of the key concerns to the government was that the US started circulating a document on sanctions at the United Nations even before the expiry of the 15-day grace period that was given by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), thereby intimidating the government into signing the document.

South Sudan deputy ambassador to Kenya, James Morgan argued that the Troika — US, UK and Norway — have been pushing a peace agreement that favours their interests and not the welfare of the people of South Sudan.

“Our mediation team in Addis Ababa did not do well because any objection from them was overruled by Igad mediators. We are not against peace but an imposed deal will not silence the guns, especially from the rebel side,” said Mr Morgan.

At the signing ceremony on Wednesday, President Kiir sought to attach a 12-page list of reservations on many key points of the deal. But White House spokesman Josh Earnes warned that it does not recognise the list.

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