AROUND AFRICA: Kidnappings in Cameroon and Nigeria, Brazil meets Angola, Tunisian Unrest

February 20, 2013 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

Kidnappings on Rise

Cameroon-mapWesterners, particularly French nationals, are being targeted for abduction by Islamist militants, angered over France’s campaign against anti-government Islamist insurgents in Mali, according to The Africa Report website.

Analysts suspect that terrorist groups in Nigeria, Mali, Chad and Niger are working together to avenge what they see as a war on radical Islam, the website said.

The latest attack came Tuesday (Feb. 20) when a family of French tourists – including four children – were kidnapped in Cameroon by armed men on motorbikes. The seven French nationals were seized near a wildlife sanctuary in northern Cameroon and were taken across the border into Nigeria. No group has taken credit for the attack although authorities suspect Ansarum, an offshoot of the violent Nigerian Islamist group, Boko Haram.

The incident brings to 15 the number of French nationals being held by kidnappers in Northwest Africa. Seven French nationals are being held by an al Qaeda affiliate – al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Another Frenchman was taken by Ansarum last June, according to the BBC.

On Saturday, seven foreigners were kidnapped during an attack on a Lebanese construction site in northern Nigeria. Ansarum has taken responsibility for that attack, saying it was in retaliation for France’s attack on militants in Mali. Islamist extremists have been responsible for the deaths of numerous foreigners in Nigeria including North Korean doctors and Chinese construction workers, according to The Guardian.

Brazil, Angola Seek Closer Ties

Angola in Africa(CIA World Factbook)

Angola in Africa
(CIA World Factbook)

The governments of Brazil and Angola have agreed to form a joint defense committee to supervise cooperation and annual meetings to be held in both countries, the Angola Press Agency (ANGOP) reports.

The agreement was announced in a communique issued at the end of a two-day visit to Angola’s capital, Luanda, by a Brazilian delegation headed by Defense Minister Celso Nunes Morim.

Morim, who was accompanied by several business people on the trip, told a press briefing at the Angolan Foreign Ministry that Brazil is looking to cooperate with Angola on defense issues like training and joint exercises, according to ANGOP. “The simple fact that these business people have come to Angola shows that the interest is not restricted to selling alone, but also to seek partnerships and joint investment possibilities as this is important for the country’s development,” Nunes Morin stated.

Angola is looking to Brazil for support to strengthen its own defence industry, to reduce the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA)’s dependence on foreign military equipment sales, according to Angola’s defense minister, Cândido Pereira dos Santos Van-Dunem.

Brazil has the strongest economy in South America and has been looking for foreign partners to supply equipment and manufacturing technology to strengthen its defense forces and defense industry.

Both countries are former Portuguese colonies.

Tunisia Uproar

Tunisia in Africa(CIA World Factbook)

Tunisia in Africa
(CIA World Factbook)

Tunisia, the North African country — where the Arab Spring began more than two years ago — has been lurching through a political crisis since Feb. 6 when leftist politician and opposition leader  Chokri Belaid was assassinated.

No one took responsibility for the fatal shooting but Belaid’s supporters blamed the ruling Islamist Ennahda Party — which vehemently denied any hand in the murder — according to AFP via channelnewsasia.com

The politician’s murder sparked violent street protests and strikes. Then-Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali tried to defuse the situation by announcing plans to create a non-Islamist cabinet of technocrats. The proposal failed and Jebali, resigned.

Now Presidentr Moncef Marzouki has been holding meetings with top politicians to pull the country out of the crisis.

Meanwhile, according to ForeignPolicy.com‘s Middle East Channel, the political instability is hurting Tunisia’s fragile economy. Remember: It was protests about high unemployment and food prices as well as government corruption that precipitated regime change in January 2011. Now Standard and Poor’s has downgraded Tunisia’s credit rating because of the “risk that the political situation could deteriorate further…”

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Entry filed under: Africa, Aircraft, BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China), National Security and Defense, Technology, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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