AROUND AFRICA: Pirates and Militants in Nigeria, Congo’s Rebels
Pirates Seize 7 Off Nigeria
Seven European sailors have been kidnapped by pirates who attacked a French company’s ship off the coast of Nigeria, the company said today (Oct. 17).
Paris-based Bourbon SA – an oil and gas services company – said in a brief press release on its website that the seven seamen – six Russian nationals and an Estonian – were taken after their ship, Bourbon Liberty 249 (click here for photo), was boarded on Oct. 15 in Nigerian waters. Nine other crew members remain aboard the oil rig support vessel, which is bound for the port of Onne in Nigeria, the company said.
According to the Associated Press, the assault took place off Nigeria’s oil rich delta region. A military spokesman told the news service that forward deployed units have been ordered to comb the area for the pirates and their hostages.
Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa but the poverty-stricken delta region has been rife with violence and unrest. While oil has made billions for Nigeria, inhabitants of the delta have complained they have seen little benefit in money or services such as education and health care. For years, pipelines and oil rigs have been attacked by militants and foreign oil workers have been kidnapped, although most are released unharmed after a ransom is collected. The AP said gunmen attacked another oil supply company’s vessel in August, taking four workers who were later released unharmed.
Sectarian Violence in Nigeria
At least 24 people have been killed by explosions and gunfire in what appears to be another outbreak in sectarian violence in northern Nigeria, according to the Voice of America.
Nigeria’s Joint Task Force says it has killed 24 suspected Boko Haram terrorists in the city of Maiduguri on Monday (Oct. 15). Boko Haram, the name means “Western education is sinful,” has been battling local governments and the Nigerian federal government since 2009. The group wants Nigeria – where Muslims predominate in the north while Christians are the majority in the south – to adopt strict Islamic law.
Nigerian officials blame Boko Haram for more than 1,500 deaths since 2009, but some human rights groups say both the authorities as wsell as the militants may be responsible for crimes against humanity.
A confidential United Nations reports says Rwanda and Uganda are arming rebels against the government of neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The report, according to Reuters which got a look at the secret document, goes so far as to say that Rwanda’s Defense Minister, Gen. James Kabarebe, is directing the M23 rebels in the eastern DRC. The rebels have been battling Congolese troops for six months and the 44-page report, written by experts serving the UN Security Council, says both Rwanda and Uganda have been violating an arms embargo and supplying the rebels with weapons and other support.
Both Rwanda and Uganda deny the allegation and Ugandan officials angrily claim the U.N. is trying to undermine their efforts to bring peace to the DRC, which has been wracked by civil war, insurgencies and roaming bands of marauders like Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.
More than 200,000 villagers have fled their homes in the DRC’s Kivu Province since the M23 uprising began in April. The M23 group — an outgrowth of a Congolese Tutsi rebel army created to fight Rwanda Hutu rebels who fled to the Congo – claims the DRC broke a 2009 peace deal that would integrate them into the regular DRC Army, the Associated Press reports.
Entry filed under: Africa, International Crime, National Security and Defense, News Developments. Tags: Africa, counter terrorism, Democratic Republic of Congo, International Crime, maritime domain awareness, Navy, Nigeria, pirates, Rwanda, Special Operations, Uganda.