Posts tagged ‘Nigeria’
Another Mosque Bombed.
There’s been another bombing in Cameroon being blamed on the Nigerian-based Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram.
At least 10 people were killed in an attack on a mosque by two female suicide bombers. The bombers struck during morning prayers, wounding about a dozen other people, the governor of the region tells Al Jazeera.
The attack in the town of Kolofata on Wednesday has been blamed on members of Boko Haram who reportedly crossed the border into Cameroon a few days earlier, Midjiyawa Bakari was quoted as saying. Kolofata, in Cameroon’s far north, near the border with Nigeria, has been repeatedly attacked by Boko Haram, according to Al Jazeera.
Wednesday’s blast was the third attack on a mosque in Cameroon in recent weeks.Another suicide attack blamed on Boko Haram in Cameroon last month killed at least seven people and wounded 30 others, officials said. In September, suicide bombers killed nine people in Kolofata and wounded 18.
Bakari, governor of the Far North Region of Cameroon, said Muslims should be on guard at mosques to help avert the kind of attacks that have plagued those attending morning prayers, according to the Voice of America website.
Bakari said he is asking the population to create vigilante groups to control access to mosques and places where people gather.
He said all prayer sessions in mosques should be divided into two, with the first group praying and the second group keeping watch. The groups would then switch. He also said unknown people should not be given access to mosques.
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New Kidnapped Girls Probe.
UPDATES to CORRECT Buhari previously led Nigeria in the early 1980s.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a new investigation into one of Boko Haram’s most notorious crimes, the kidnapping of hundreds of teen-aged school girls in 2014.
The military has freed hundreds of Boko Haram captives in recent months, but none of the 200 girls taken from a school in the town of Chibok, according to the BBC.
The lack of progress in the attack and kidnapping that garnered worldwide attention, has sparked criticism of the government and army, which has been waging a war against the violent extremist Islamist group for six years. More than20,000 people have been killed in Nigeria and surrounding countries by Boko Haram attacks and bombings.
Buhari, a former Army commander and coup leader who ruled the country in the early 1980s before being democratically elected last year, fired the heads of Nigeria’s army, navy and air force in July 2015 as proof of his determination to have the girls found.
The new probe will be led by a panel appointed by the Nigeria’s national security adviser and will look into the circumstances of the kidnapping and the government’s response. The government says it does not know where the girls are or if they are alive, BBC reported.
New Drone base.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Headline rewritten to clarify U.S. forces not engaged in combat, just aiding ISR effort.
The United States has quietly sent hundreds of troops to West Africa, to help Cameroon’s army hunt the terrorists along the Nigerian border, according to a CBS News report Wednesday (December 16).
They’re searching for Boko Haram, the extremist group that has aligned itself with the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIl and Daesh). Boko Harma has killed more than 20,000 people in the region, mostly in Nigeria, over the past six years.
Cameroon is getting help from the U.S. military, which is setting up another drone base in Africa. Cameroon soldiers are learning how to use their own unarmed drones for surveillance. The U.S. base won’t be fully operational until next month, CBS says.
“The U.S. is providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to the Cameroonian forces,” Army Captain Victor Guzman told CBS News. He said the plan is for the Cameroonian troops to take the lead and fight the local threat.
The United States started unarmed drone surveillance flights out of Niger, to the north of Cameroon, in early 2013 to support French forces fighting Islamist militants in northern Mali.
The United Nations is seeking a record $2 billion in aid for North Africa’s Sahel region to counter poverty, insecurity and climate change that could tip the area over, generating a new wave of mass migration, Reuters reported Wednesday (December 9).
The U.N. has increased its appeal for the nine countries of the semiarid band stretching from Senegal on the Atlantic to Eritrea on the Red Sea more than tenfold over the last 10 years, but funding has fallen short each year.
Attacks by militants from the radical Islamist group Boko Haram in the Lake Chad basin, as well as efforts by regional armies to counter them, have already forced 2.5 million people to flee their homes — a figure that has tripled in 12 months, according to Reuters.
Toby Lanzer, a U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator, noted the thousands of refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East flooding into Europe. “Eventually, you are going to have thousands or tens of thousands of people [from the Sahel] who will seek opportunities elsewhere or, if worse comes to the worst, be forced to flee,” he told Reuters.
A portion of the 2016 funding, part of a $20.1 billion record U.N. humanitarian appeal, will also go toward education, which Lanzer hopes will encourage young girls to finish schooling and cap population growth in a region ill-equipped to cope with a forecast sixfold increase in population by 2100.
The biggest recipient in 2016 will be Chad with $567 million, which has suffered a series of Boko Haram suicide bombings in recent months, followed by Mali with $354 million and Niger with $316 million. Other countries in the Sahel include Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Sudan
The refugee appeal comes just a day after U.N. Security Council appealed for greater international security cooperation and more humanitarian aid to bring stability to sub-Saharan Africa.
Concern about terrorist safe havens in Libya and the humanitarian crisis caused by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria, are at the heart of the Security Council’s warning.
In a presidential statement issued two weeks after the top U.N. regional official warned that the sub-Saharan Sahel region will become fertile ground for recruiting terrorists among its tens of millions of disadvantaged people, the 15-member Council called for a dual policy of combatting terrorism and its havens while eliminating its root causes through aid and development.
Another Mali Attack.
Two United Nations peacekeepers and a civilian contractor were killed in a rocket attack Saturday (November 28) on a U.N. base in northern Mali.
The attack on the dessert base near Kidal (see map) killed two soldiers from Guinea. More than 10,000 UN peacekeepers from several countries — mostly nearby West African nations like Guinea — have been patrolling violence-wracked Mali since 2013, according to the BBC.
The UN mission in Mali — criticized at the time of its approval because there is no peace deal to support — has suffered more casualties than any other in recent years, with 56 troops killed, the BBC indicated in a November 20 video report.
Olivier Salgado, spokesman for the UN’s deployment in Mali known as MINUSMA, told Al Jazeera the attack was launched before dawn with five rockets landing inside the UN compound. Salgado said 20 other people were wounded, four seriously.
“In the past we’ve had mortar shells land outside, but this time they made it into the camp,” he said.
The armed group Ansar Dine told the AFP news agency it was responsible for the attack. Hamadou Ag Khallini, one of the group’s senior figures told AFP by phone that the attack was “in response to the violation of our lands by the enemies of Islam.”
French forces intervened in Mali, a former French colony, when a rebellion by heavily-armed Tuareg nomads sparked an Army coup in 2012 because the government’s poor handling of the revolt. The Tuaregs, backed by al Qaeda-linked Islamist extremists, took advantage of the chaos and swept over half the country — threatening Bamako, the capital — before the French intervened with ground troops and aircraft.
But violence has picked up again. Five UN peacekeepers were killed in July, and just over a week ago a militant assault on a luxury hotel in Bamako left more than 20 people dead. On Friday (November 27), Malian forces arrested two men in connection with the hotel attack, the Voice of America website reported..
Other West African governments are also battling insurgents. Boko Haram, the leading armed group in the region, has this year extended its attacks from Nigeria to the neighboring states of Niger, Cameroon and Chad, Al Jazeera noted.
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The Islamic State-linked militant group Boko Haram is claiming responsibility for a suicide bombing in northern Nigeria Friday (November 27) that killed at least 22 people marching in a procession of Shi’ite pilgrims.
The blast near the village of Dakozoye, south of Kano, came just days after two female bombers blew themselves up at a local mobile telephone market in Kano, killing at least 14 people and wounding more than 100 others in the city of 2.1 million residents, the Voice of America reported.
A statement posted Saturday (November 28) on Twitter referred to the Friday blast as a “martyrdom-seeking operation.” It also vowed more violence would come as the extremist group presses its six-year campaign for an independent Islamic state, or caliphate, in northeastern Nigeria and the nearby countries of northern Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Followers of The Islamic Movement of Nigeria were marching from Kano to Zaria through the village of Dakasoye on Friday when the attackers struck, according to Al Jazeera. The followers were on a “symbolic trek” to Zaria, where the Islamic Movement of Nigeria’s leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky is based, to mark the 40th day of Ashura – the death of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Hussein.
Meanwhile, Boko Haram has been labeled the world’s deadliest terrorist group, according to the New York Times.
The militant group that has tortured Nigeria and its neighbors for years, was responsible for 6,664 deaths last year, more than any other terrorist group in the world, including the Islamic State, which killed 6,073 people in 2014, according to a report released (November 18).
The report, by the Institute of Economics & Peace, said the Islamic State and Boko Haram were responsible for half of all global deaths attributed to terrorism. Last year, the deaths attributed to Boko Haram alone increased by more than 300 percent, the report said. The report also found a drastic increase in terrorist attacks last year, with the majority occurring in three countries: Iraq, Syria and Nigeria, where other militant groups besides Boko Haram operate.
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Five Polish sailors have been abducted from a cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria, according to the BBC and other news outlets.
Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said the men– including a captain and other three officers — were kidnapped Thursday night (November 26) from the cargo ship Szafir.
Pirates boarded the vessel as it traveled from Belgium to Nigeria, according to Polish media reports. Eleven other sailors evaded capture, apparently by locking themselves in the engine room.
Security experts classify the waters off Nigeria as some of the deadliest on earth, with pirates based in the country often targeting oil tankers, as well as hostages to ransom, Al Jazeera reported.
But the region has seen no documented attacks since February, when a crude carrier was boarded with the ship’s Greek deputy captain killed and three crew members taken hostage.
It Ain’t Over Yet.
President Barack Obama announced Thursday (October 15) that U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan will not be going down anytime soon.
Obama said the policy shift is necessary because Afghan security forces aren’t ready to defend their country by themselves while the Taliban insurgency is on the rise again, especially in rural areas.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is sending 300 U.S. service members to the west African nation of Cameroon to conduct drone surveillance of the violent extremist group Boko Haram, which has killed thousands of people in the region.
Flanked by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Vice President Joe Biden at a short White House briefing, Obama announced the current force strength level of 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will continue through 2016. In 2017, U.S. forces in Afghanistan will shrink to 5,500 — still far more than the embassy protection force previously envisioned by administration planners.
Those 5,500 troops, to be based in a few locations around the country — including Bagram, Jalalabad in the east, and Kandahar in the south. They
will continue their current two-part mission of training Afghan forces and counterterrorism operations, Obama said. The advising and training will have a special emphasis on Afghanistan’s elite counterterrorism forces, according to the Washington Post. “The United States would also maintain a significant counterterrorism capability of drones and Special Operations forces to strike al Qaeda and other militants who may be plotting attacks against the United States,” the Post said.
“Afghanistan is a key piece in the network of counter terrorism partnerships we need from South Asia to Africa to deal more broadly with terrorist threats quickly and prevent attacks against our homeland,” Obama said. The so called Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL) has emerged as a threat in Afghanistan and Boko Haram leaders have pledged allegiance to the extremely violent group, which wants to establish a Islamic caliphate through out the Middle East and Africa. It already controls large areas of Syria and Iraq.
The U.S. troops going to Cameroon were invited by that country’s government as part of a larger international effort to stop the spread of violent extremists in West Africa, a U.S. defense official told the Voice of America news site.
The need for international action has become “more urgent as Boko Haram and other organizations ramped up their violent activities,” the official added.
The violent extremist group has been active in northern Cameroon, which is across the border from its home base of northeastern Nigeria.
In a letter to Congress Wednesday (October 14), Obama said 90 military personnel had already deployed to Cameroon ahead of the arrival of additional troops “to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in the region”.
“The total number of U.S. military personnel to be deployed to Cameroon is anticipated to be up to approximately 300,” Obama said, according to the Al Jazeera website. “These forces are equipped with weapons for the purpose of providing their own force protection and security, and they will remain in Cameroon until their support is no longer needed,” Obama said.
TERRORISM ROUNDUP: Chattanooga Toll Rises; Turkey Gets Tough After Bombing; Italian Plot; Cameroon and Nigeria Suicide Attacks
Chattanooga Attack Update.
A fifth service member wounded in the July 16 shooting attack at the Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) in Chattanooga, Tennessee has died, according to Navy officials.
Navy Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Randall Smith, 26,succumbed to his wounds in the early morning hours Saturday (July 18). Four U.S. Marines were killed in the incident. They were identified as Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan, 40; Staff Sergeant David Wyatt, 35; Sergeant Carson Holmquist, 25; and Lance Corporal Squire Wells, 21.
The F.B.I. confirmed that at least one service member shot at the attacker, but did not say whether he had managed to wound the lone gunman, Mohammod Abdulazeez, 24. The gunman, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Kuwait, was killed minutes later in a shootout with the Chattanooga police. One officer was wounded in the gun battle. Edward Reinhold, the special agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s Knoxville office said two guns belonging to service members were recovered from the scene. And “at least one of those weapons had been discharged,” he said, the New York Times reported.
In the wake of the shootings, according to the Washington Post, armed civilians are stepping in to stand watch outside military recruiting centers from Arizona to Virginia to protect the service members inside. Several members of Congress have called for legislation allowing servicemen to go armed in various situations and postings stateside. Army General Mark Milley, President Obama’s nominee to become the next Army chief of staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday (July 21) that he is open to recruiters being armed in some cases. But he added that it’s a legally complicated issue. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has called for recommendations to improve protection.
But today (July 23) a Pentagon spokesman said the Defense Department opposes giving weapons to every service member on a domestic military installation. “We do not support arming all military personnel for a variety of reasons,” Vavy Captain Jeff Davis told reporters at the Pentagon. “(There are) safety concerns, the prohibitive cost for use-of-force and weapons training, qualification costs as well as compliance with multiple weapons-training laws,” McClatchy newspapers reported (via Defense News and Military Times’ Early Bird Brief)
The FBI said Abdulazeez was a “homegrown violent extremist” who acted alone during his rampage, USA Today reported. U.S. officials told ABC News that in 2013 Abdulazeez did online research for militant Islamist “guidance” on committing violence. The Internet searches were discovered on electronic devices such as his smartphone analyzed over the weekend by the FBI Lab in Quantico, Virginia, several counter-terrorism officials confirmed to ABC News. His family said Abdulazeez suffered depression. They released a statement Saturday (July 18) saying that there are “no words to describe our shock, horror, and grief.”
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Turkey Ups Security After Bombing.
The Turkish government is erecting a wall along part of its border with Syria, reinforcing wire fencing and digging extra ditches after a suspected Islamic State group suicide bombing killed 32 mostly young students in a border town this week. Reuters reports Turkish officials say they believe that the bomber in the attack at Suruc in southeastern Turkey was a 20-year old Turkish man who had traveled to Syria last year with the help of a group linked to the so-called Islamic State, which has taken control of larges areas in Syria and Iraq.
Thousands of foreign fighters are thought to have traveled through Turkey to join Islamic State in Syria and Iraq in the past few years, some of them with assistance from Turkish smuggling networks sympathetic to the militants. The Suruc bombing, whose victims included Kurds, enraged Turkey’s Kurdish minority, many of whom suspect the government of tacitly backing Islamic State in Syria against Kurdish forces, something Ankara strongly denies, according to Reuters.
Officials said flood-lighting would be installed along a 118 kilometer stretch of the Syrian border, while border patrol roads would be repaired. The armed forces were also digging a 365 kilometer-long ditch along the border and have deployed some 90 percent of their drones and reconnaissance aircraft to the Syrian border.
Meanwhile, Turkey is granting permission for American warplanes to use two Turkish air bases for bombarding the Islamic State. Turkey is also rushing troops to the border to fight militants for the first time, the New York Times reported. U.S. officials said using the Turkish airbases will allow U.S. and coalition aircraft to make more numerous bombings of Islamic State targets.
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Attack on Italian Base Foiled.
Italian prosecutors say two suspects arrested Wednesday (July 22), who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group, planned to target an Italian military base near the northern city of Brescia that has a U.S. military presence, the Associated Press reported.
But Prosecutor Maurizio Romanelli told a press conference in Milan that the two suspects did not have the capabilities to carry out an attack against the Ghedi air base or any other of the targets they had identified with a Twitter account, including Milan’s Duomo cathedral or Rome’s Colosseum.
Officials said the two men, a Tunisian and a Pakistani, were making plans to travel to Islamic State territory for military training while at the same time gathering information from the Internet.
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Bombings in Cameroon, Nigeria.
Security has been increased in northern Cameroon following Wednesday’s (July 22) double suicide bombing attack, carried out by two females, that left dozens dead.
The attack in the city of Maroua is the fourth in two weeks, the Voice of America website reported. The governor of the country’s Far North region said he has asked the military to be more vigilant and vigorous while checking travelers and their goods, adding that all suspected markets, shops, bars and popular spots have been sealed.
Al Jazeera reported the two suicide bombers killed at least 22 people at a marketplace near the border with Nigeria. The toll is likely to rise among the 50 injured, officials said.
Meanwhile, bomb blasts suspected to have been carried out by radical Islamists have killed at least 29 people in Nigeria. The attacks came after Nigeria’s new president warned that the U.S. refusal to sell his country strategic weapons is “aiding and abetting” Boko Haram, which wants to create an Islamic state in Nigeria and has allied itself with the Islamic State. The Nigerian bombings were at two busy bus stations in Gombe.
Suspected Boko Haram Attack.
More than 100 people are reported to have been killed this week by suspected Boko Haram Islamist extremists in northeastern Nigeria, according to area residents.
Dozens of militants stormed three remote villages in Borno state “slaughtering residents and setting houses ablaze in the bloodiest day of attacks by the extremist group since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in May,” AFP, the French news agency reported. The terrorists attacked worshipers just after prayers at several local mosques. Buhari, a Muslim and former army commander, has vowed to crush Boko Haram, which launched a terrorist campaign to establish a strict Islamic state in 2009.
Gunmen killed at least 97 people in the village of Kukawa on Wednesday (July 1). In two other villages about 50 kilometers (31 miles) away near Monguno, gunmen killed 48 people and injured 11 others, AFP reported. All three communities are located near Lake Chad (see map), close to where Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon intersect, and has been a focal point of the unrest. Boko Haram has stepped up its campaign of violence, since Buhari was elected, killing some 400 people.
According to Amnesty International, at least 17,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since 2009, BBC reported. Boko Haram has affiliated itself with the self-styled Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL) which has spread a reign of terror over parts of Syria and Iraq.
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U.N. Peacekeepers Killed.
Six United Nations peacekeepers were killed and five were wounded when their convoy was attacked in northern Mali Thursday (July 2), according to the Voice of America website.
A statement from the U.N. peackeeping force in Mali — MINUSMA — said the convoy was attacked about 45 kilometers (27 miles) southwest of the city of Timbuktu. The U.N. said all of the killed and wounded were from Burkina Faso. The statement also said the latest attack brings to 42 the number of peacekeepers killed and 166 wounded in hostile action in Mali since 2013. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Violence has continued in northern Mali despite a French-led military campaign in January 2013 to drive al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels that seized control of nearly half the sprawling North Africa country after a Tuareg uprising led to a military coup that plunged the country into chaos.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports, officials in neighboring Mali are reinforcing security along its northern border after recent attacks just across the border in Mali that are being blamed on Islamic insurgents.
Armed men attacked and briefly took control of Fakola, a town in Mali’s southern region of Sikasso, close to the border with Ivory Coast, on Sunday (June 28). The raid followed a similar attack weeks earlier during which dozens of suspected Islamist militants hit a police station in the nearby town of Misseni, Reuters said.
Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa grower and French-speaking West Africa’s largest economy, is emerging from a decade-long political crisis and now is in the midst of an economic revival.
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Tunisia Beach Attack.
Eight suspects, including a woman, are being held in custody on suspicion of being directly linked to the June 26 deadly attack on vacationers in the Tunisian resort of Sousse, the BBC reports.
Thirty -eight people were killed when a gunman opened fire on tourists staying in the popular resort of Port El Kantaoui, just north of Sousse. The self-described Islamic State, a violent extremist organization that has captured parts of Syria and Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Thirty of the victims were British and were staying at the Hotel Rui Imperial Marhaba and neighboring Hotel Rui Bellevue Park. Dozens more are still being treated in hospitals. The other victims were from Belgium, Germany, Russia, Ireland and Portugal, according to CNN.
Tunisian authorities have identified 28-year-old student Seifeddine Rezgui as the gunman. In March, two gunmen killed 22 people in an attack at the famous Bardo museum in Tunisia’s capital, Tunis. Islamic State has built a significant presence in Libya, Tunisia’s neighbor, and it thought to control the major towns of Derna and Sirte, the BBC said.