Nigeria – Boko Haram kills dozens in market attack

20 September 2014

Boko Haram militants have attacked a rural market in the north-east Nigerian town of Mainok, killing dozens of people, officials and witnesses say.

Gunmen shot at traders and customers as they raided the busy market for food supplies on Friday.

The number of casualties is not yet clear, with some reports suggesting as many as 30 people were killed.

Boko Haram has taken control of a series of towns and villages in north-eastern Nigeria in recent weeks.

Authorities have struggled to defeat the militant Islamist group, which has been waging an insurgency in Nigeria since 2009.

The BBC’s Will Ross, in Lagos, warns that parts of north-eastern Nigeria are slipping further and further out of the government’s control, creating a growing humanitarian crisis.

Many residents fled Mainok after the attack, making it difficult to obtain accurate information.

Reuters news agency quotes two security sources as saying that at least 36 people, including 13 gunmen, were killed in the gun battle, which continued into Saturday.

“Thirteen of the terrorists… were killed, some of them fled with gunshots and our colleagues are already on their trail. Unfortunately, 23 civilians died in the attack,” one source is quoted as saying.

The militants are well-armed and often wear military uniforms
Eyewitnesses described scenes of pandemonium as the busy market came under attack in broad daylight on Friday, our correspondent says.

One resident said that some of those running for safety were killed after being hit by cars speeding away from the area.

He said that many soldiers and civilians ran away into the bush.

Mainok is located some 56 km (35 miles) outside of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.

In May 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan imposed a state of emergency in the northern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, vowing to crush the Islamist insurgency.

Thousands of people are displaced every week by violence in the north-east of Nigeria
But Boko Haram, which translates as “Western education is forbidden”, has stepped up attacks against civilian targets ever since the Nigerian military offensive began last year.

It frequently attacks schools and colleges, which it sees as a symbol of Western culture, and was behind the kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls from Chibok in Borno state.

Earlier this week gunmen stormed a teacher training college in the northern city of Kano in a suspected Boko Haram attack, killing at least 14 people.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch says more than 2,000 civilians have been killed this year


Kenyans view Al Shabab as serious security threat


Most Kenyans view Al-Shabaab as an ‘extremely high’ security threat

Two thirds of Kenyans consider Al-Shabaab an “extremely high” security threat, according to a new survey.

A morgue attendant walks past bodies of victims of the Mpeketoni attack on June 16, 2014. PHOTO | FILE

A morgue attendant walks past bodies of victims of the Mpeketoni attack on June 16, 2014. FILE PHOTO |  AFP


Two thirds of Kenyans consider Al-Shabaab an “extremely high” security threat, while only a third believe the group was responsible for the Mpeketoni attacks.

A new survey also shows that both supporters of Jubilee and Cord believe the terrorist group was “most responsible” for the attacks in Lamu County, where more than 100 people were killed.

Also, twice as many Jubilee supporters hold “local political networks” responsible for the Mpeketoni attacks as do those for Cord.

The survey, released by Ipsos Kenya on Friday, cited insecurity as one of the most serious problems currently facing Kenya, second to the high cost of living.

“As in the past, only a minority of victims of crime (42 per cent) reported to the police, with a solid majority (60 per cent) completely dissatisfied with the response they receive.

“Indeed, this high level of dissatisfaction may explain why more crime victims do not report such incidents,” says the report.


Surprisingly, 28 per cent of Kenyans are aware of the presence of Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in Somalia as part of an international force to rid the country of Al-Shabaab militants.

A third of those who are aware of KDF’s presence in Somalia believe this will lead to a reduction in crime and terrorist attacks in Kenya.

One in every three people interviewed during the survey said they thought KDF’s presence in Somalia would only lead to an increase in terrorist attacks back home.

When asked whether they had heard of any Muslim clerics who had been killed in the last year or two, 36 per cent of the respondents said they were not aware of such killings.

Among those aware of any Muslim clerics killed, 79 per cent knew about the killing of Sheikh Shariff Abubakar (Makaburi).


Kenya – Kenyatta summoned for ICC hearing


Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta summoned by ICC to hearing

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta stands for Kenya's national anthem before the Africa Union Peace and Security Council Summit on Terrorism at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, September 2, 2014The case against Uhuru Kenyatta has angered many African leaders

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) has summoned Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to appear before the tribunal on 8 October.

Judges want to question him over claims that his government has withheld documents requested by prosecutors preparing his crimes against humanity trial.

The trial has already been delayed several times.

Mr Kenyatta denies organising ethnic massacres after elections in 2007.

Some 1,200 people were killed and 600,000 driven from their homes.

Two weeks ago, prosecutors asked for the case against him to be adjourned indefinitely, saying they did not have enough evidence because of obstruction by the Kenyan government.

President Kenyatta has repeatedly argued he needs to remain in Kenya to fight militants from the al-Shabab group and take care of state affairs.

In a statement, the ICC said discussions with Mr Kenyatta would focus on “the status of co-operation between the prosecution and the Kenyan government”.

A Kenyan woman cries before a mass funeral for victims of clashes on January 23, 2008 in Nairobi, KenyaKenya has not prosecuted anyone for the violence which wracked the country in 2007-8
Opposition party supporters chant their grievances near to a burning barricade, in Kisumu, western Kenya, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008,The political dispute soon descended into ethnic killings

African leaders have lobbied for the case to be dropped, accusing the ICC of only investigating alleged atrocities in Africa.

Mr Kenyatta’s lawyers have repeatedly said the whole case should be dropped because of a lack of evidence.

Mr Kenyatta was elected in 2013, despite facing the charges. Analysts said he turned the prosecution to his advantage, portraying it as foreign intervention in Kenya’s domestic affairs.

In 2007, Mr Kenyatta was a close ally of President Mwai Kibaki, who was declared the election winner despite claims of fraud from his rival Raila Odinga.

The disputes soon turned violent, with targeted killings along ethnic lines, pitting members of the Kikuyu ethnic group of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Kibaki against other communities.

Mr Kenyatta is accused of organising an ethnic Kikuyu gang, the Mungiki sect, to attack rival groups.

His Vice-President, William Ruto, faces similar charges, although he was on Mr Odinga’s side during the violence.  BBC



South Sudan – further US sanctions against warring South Sudanese military leaders

Sudan Tribune

(ADDIS ABABA) – Unites States government has slapped the South Sudanese warring parties with additional sanctions targeting two senior military officers on the two sides, accused of fuelling the ongoing 9-month long conflict.

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Soldiers from the South Sudanese army (SPLA) jump from a vehicle while on patrol in the capital, Juba (Photo: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

Major General Santino Deng Wol of South Sudan army, in charge of third military division and Major General James Koang Chuol, who was previously in charge of fourth army division but defected and joined the rebel faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-in-Opposition) became the latest targets.

In a statement released on Thursday by the US Treasury under-secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, David Cohen, accused the two generals of prolonging the violence in South Sudan.

“Both of the individuals we are designating today are prolonging the violent conflict in South Sudan and engaging in reprehensible violence,” the statement partly reads.

The treasury department accused Wol of expanding the conflict and of obstructing peace, saying his troops continued to attack the rebel positions despite the 23 January cessation of hostilities agreement between the warring parties.

According to the treasury, Wol is accused of breaking the agreement with a series of military engagements in which his forces recaptured the towns of Mayom, Tor Abyad and Wang Kai from the rebels.

The statement also accused the rebel commander Koang of carrying out attacks against civilians in Unity state.

The rebel attacks “targeted civilians, including women and children, with killing, sexual violence and attacks on schools, hospitals, religious sites, and locations where civilians were seeking refuge,” says the statement.

Washington in the past imposed sanctions on president Salva Kiir’s presidential guards commander, General Marial Cinuong and General Peter Gatdet who defected in December to the rebel group in Jonglei state while previously serving as the overall commander of the eighth army division.

The four generals are banned from travelling to US and their assets or financial transactions which may be in the US or related to US companies are frozen.

Generals Wol and Gatdet are also under sanctions by the European Union (EU), which also bans their movement to EU countries and freeze their assets.

The latest US sanction came a day after the United Kingdom threatened the two warring parties with regional sanctions unless they abide by the cessation of hostilities agreements they signed and speedily conclude the peace talks.

UK also hinted that the United Nations would impose sanctions on South Sudan.

However, Juba slammed the looming sanctions, describing them as a conspiracy of western strategy.

“We believe that threats of sanctions as a western strategy to bring peace while apportioning blames, even when they know every well that the government does not bear any responsibility in this senseless war created by Riek Machar and his group, will also affect other countries in the region”, Mark Nyipuoc, the deputy speaker of the national assembly told reporters Monday.

The rebels on their side downplayed the effect of the targeted sanctions on individual military officers, saying South Sudan government has remained at large and continued to import weaponry from China through ports of Mombassa of Kenya in order to perpetuate the war.

Tens of thousands of people have died since the conflict began in mid-December with 1.5 million more displaced.

The two parties have been engaging in peace talks in Ethiopia since January under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).


South Africa – Kebby Maphatsoe in row of over MK vets’ assets

Mail and Guardian

Deputy defence minister Kebby Maphatsoe is squaring off against a rival faction over the ‘unauthorised’ selling of assets.

Kebby Maphatsoe says a member's court action against him is about 'fishing for information'. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Two years after pointed allegations of theft and looting first emerged, the leaders of the Um-khonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) – including the lately controversial deputy defence minister Kebby Maphatsoe – are facing new allegations of trying to cash in on the group’s fortune.

MKMVA has interests in banking, mining and gambling infrastructure, interests that are supposed to benefit former combatants and their families.

Some of these interests – a disgruntled group of those former combatants will again try to convince the courts – are in the process of being liquidated, without their consent and not for their benefit.

The Mail & Guardian is in possession of the latest court papers alleging that those in control of the MKMVA assets, among which Maphatsoe is the best known, are trying to liquidate holdings, sometimes at well below their actual value.

A legal representative for the group would not comment on the matter, other than to confirm he was acting for MKMVA member Omry Makgoale.

Not involved
Makgoale has named Maphatsoe (recently notable for a subsequently retracted allegation that public protector Thuli Madonsela is a CIA spy) alongside trustees, including former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe and ex-National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu. However, in a complication to the matter, representatives for Motlanthe said he no longer had any involvement in managing MKMVA trust money, and was never directly involved in the long-running saga of the assets. The same is believed to be true of Sisulu.

Motlanthe and Sisulu were both trustees of a body originally established by Nelson Mandela to promote MK history.

Not only the nature of the trust is confusing; so too is the nature of the assets held on behalf of MKMVA. In one instance Makgoale claims that organisation leaders are intent on selling assets at a tiny fraction of their value.

“They told us they wanted to sell the shares for R5-million when we knew they were at least worth R126-million,” Makgoale told the M&G this week. He said he and other MK veterans had clashed with both those they understand to be trustees and the ANC after learning about the proposed transaction.

But Maphatsoe roundly dismissed the claims as a “waste of time” and said Makgoale was fishing for information.

Holding company
Maphatsoe said that shares were housed in a holding company to which he had no access, and that the MKMVA did not have share certificates for some of the shares Makgoale alleged were being sold, because of long-running leadership and financial battles within the organisation.

Maphatsoe said Makgoale did not have issues with the veterans’ body and this was a personal vendetta against him.

Former MKMVA national executive committee member Ike Moroe said the group had decided to sell out of one of its mining interests because “people were suffering and we couldn’t run the organisation, because we didn’t have money”. But the individual with access to the share certificates would not hand them over as he did not consider the current leaders of MKMVA to be legitimate, Moroe said.

A representative for Makgoale said the aggrieved group was still gathering evidence before returning to court. “We are preparing for a case; the case is not dead. We have been trying to verify aspects of the story with the intent to take proper legal action.”

In mid-2012 a group of MK veterans claimed leaders of the MKMVA had turned its investment portfolio into their personal piggy bank, and had paid for such things as jewellery, spa treatments and school drama lessons from organisational funds –and had also withdrawn large sums of cash before Christmas.

Fingers in the pie
The allegations were contained in a draft investigation report by auditing firm SizweNtsalubaGobodo that pointed fingers at several individuals, including Maphatsoe. The report alleged that the leaders had helped themselves to at least R5.4-million.

Both the report and the subsequent civil court action seeking to freeze MKMVA accounts were driven by a group of exiled former soldiers known as the “commissariat”, which the ANC national general council had revived and endorsed in 2010 as a political resource for the party.

At the time the group said that an opaque web of investments had been created on behalf of the MKMVA, with an intentional dereliction of duty by those financially responsible for it.

The report recommended a “thorough exercise … to trace and identify all possible investment[s]/interest[s] of the MKMVA. This would include any investment obtained by individuals [through the MKMVA] for their own personal benefit.”

At the time Maphatsoe refused to answer questions on the report, saying disciplined cadres do not take their grievances to the courts or the media.

A member of the commissariat retorted that the group had tried to use ANC procedures but had been frustrated, and had turned to auditors and the courts as a last resort. – Additional reporting by Phillip de Wet

Seven killed in Uganda-South Sudan border clash


(Reuters) – At least seven people were killed in a string of clashes either side of Uganda and South Sudan’s border, a remote area plagued by cattle rustling and conflicts over territory, Uganda’s military said.

The fighting started on Thursday when South Sudanese gunmen detained Ugandan local government officials carrying out a census, accusing them of straying into South Sudanese territory, said Uganda’s military spokesman Paddy Ankunda.

That triggered demonstrations in the Ugandan border town of Moyo, where Ugandans razed houses belonging to South Sudanese residents, Ankunda said.

That, in turn, led to a series of tit-for-tat attacks.

“I am informed last evening Ugandan youth entered South Sudan and killed a South Sudanese woman. In retaliation, South Sudanese militants entered Uganda and killed five people at around midnight,” Ankunda told Reuters.

A local government official in Moyo, Jimmy Vukoni, told Reuters by telephone that he had received reports that South Sudanese youths on Friday also crossed into Uganda and stole cattle, burnt houses and raped women.

Ankunda said five Ugandans were killed in the skirmishes and both Ugandan and South Sudan security officials were trying defuse the fighting.

A South Sudanese county commissioner near the area where the fighting occurred, Henry Sabuni, said two people from his country also died.

Uganda sent troops into South Sudan late December in support of the government of President Salva Kiir against insurgent forces led by his sacked deputy Riek Machar. Reuters

Sierra Leone begins three day ebola lockdown


Sierra Leone begins three-day Ebola lockdown.

The BBC’s Umaru Fofana says frenetic shopping had been taking place ahead of the lockdown

A three-day curfew or lockdown to try to stop the spread of the Ebola virus has come into effect in Sierra Leone.

The aim of the move is to keep people confined to their homes while health workers isolate new cases and prevent Ebola from spreading further.

Critics say the lockdown will destroy trust between doctors and the public.

Sierra Leona is one of the countries worst hit by West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 2,600 people.

The UN Security Council on Thursday declared the outbreak a “threat to international peace and security”.

The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling on states to provide more resources to combat it.


The BBC’s Umaru Fofana in Sierra Leone

Even the heavy downpour that deluged Freetown since dawn on Thursday did not stop thousands of people from rushing to supermarkets and vegetable markets to stock up on food ahead of the lockdown declared by the president.

The government hopes this drastic action will prove to be the magic bullet in the battle to stop the spread of Ebola, which has hit 13 of the country’s 14 districts, killing more than 500 people.

A supermarket attendant in the west of Freetown told me she that she has had to restock her shelves five times in two days – a mark of the brisk buying that’s going on by those who can afford it.

“I’m here to get some food and beverages for my family that will last us the whole weekend,” Christian Thomas told the BBC. “I’ve also bought dozens of litres of fuel for my generator should the lights go out as is so often the case,” he said.

In the poor eastern suburb of Calaba Town survival is on the minds of many. Customers and traders alike wondered how they would manage to pull it off.


The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has been strongly critical of the lockdown, arguing that ultimately it will help spread the disease.

MSF, whose staff are helping to tackle the outbreak, said in a statement this month that quarantines and lockdowns “end up driving people underground and jeopardising the trust between people and health providers”.

“This leads to the concealment of potential cases and ends up spreading the disease further.”

Freetown Sierra Leone (18 September 2014)There are reports of stockpiling in Freetown ahead of the lockdown
A World Health Organisation worker, (centre) trains nurses to use Ebola protective gear in Freetown, Sierra Leone (18 September 2014)Volunteers will go door-to-door to test people for the virus and take infected people to treatment centres
A drama film poster made about the Ebola virus hangs on the walls of downtown Freetown, Sierra Leone (18 September 2014)Posters warning about the dangers of Ebola can be seen all over Freetown
A charity worker educates children on how to prevent and identify the Ebola virus in their communities at Freetown, Sierra LeoneSierra Leona is one of the countries worst hit by West Africa’s Ebola outbreak

But the authorities insist that the measure “will minimise the spread of the virus”, and that thousands of officials would be deployed to make sure residents stayed indoors.

Volunteers will go door-to-door to test people for the virus and take infected people to treatment centres.

Health ministry spokesman Sidie Yahya Tunis told the BBC this month he did not expect the public to object.

“You follow or else you’ll be breaking the law. If you disobey then you are disobeying the president,” he said.

The disease infects humans through close contact with infected animals, including chimpanzees, fruit bats and forest antelope.

It then spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.


Ebola virus disease (EVD)

Ebola virus
  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 55%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no proven vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host

West Africa Ebola casualties

Up to 14 September


Ebola deaths – probable, confirmed and suspected

  • 1,459 Liberia
  • 601 Guinea
  • 562 Sierra Leone
  • 8 Nigeria