Posts tagged ‘Tuareg rebellion’

AROUND AFRICA: Attacks in Nigeria, Mali and Tunisia

Suspected Boko Haram Attack.

Nigeria in Africa (CIA World Factbook)

Nigeria in Africa
(CIA World Factbook)

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.

Nigeria (CIA World Factbook map)

(CIA World Factbook map)

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.

Mali (CIA World Factbook)

(CIA World Factbook)

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.

French troops meet with soldiers from Burkina Faso outside Timbuktu. (Copyright French Ministry of Defense)

French troops meet with soldiers from Burkina Faso in 2013 outside Timbuktu.
(Copyright French Ministry of Defense)

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.

Ivory Coast  (CIA World Factbook)

Ivory Coast
(CIA World Factbook)

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.

Tunisia in Africa (CIA World Factbook)

the Tunisia in Africa
(CIA World Factbook)

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.

July 2, 2015 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: Army Rescue in Nigeria; Nigerien Army Drives Terrorists from Island; Mali Rebels Attack UN Peacekeepers

Army Rescues 293 from Boko Haram.

Nigeria (CIA World factbook)

(CIA World factbook)

The Nigerian Army says it has rescued nearly 300 female captives from the radical Islamist terror group, Boko Haram.

On Tuesday (April 28), the military said it freed 200 girls and 93 women from an area where Boko Haram is active. However, the Army said the girls abducted from a school in Chibok in April 2014 were not among the captives released, according to the BBC.

The military said the girls and women were freed during major operations ending in the seizure of four Boko Haram camps in the Sambisa Forest that borders Cameroon.

Whomever they are, many of the women and girls may not be able to go home because Boko Haram has destroyed their houses, families or businesses, or continues to threaten their towns, a Nigerian psychologist and counterterrorism adviser to the government tells Voice of America.

Earlier this month, the human rights group Amnesty International published a report saying that Boko Haram, which is fighting to create an Islamic state in largely Muslim Northeast Nigeria,  has abducted at least 2,000 women and girls since the start of 2014, Al Jazeera reported.  In addition to forcing them into sexual slavery, Boko Haram has used girls and women as suicide bombers, sending them into crowded market places and elsewhere.

Boko Haram has been responsible for killing thousands of people mostly in the north but also in bombing attacks in large cities, including Abjua, the capital. About 300 teenaged girls were kidnapped from a school compound during a Boko Haram attack last April, sparking international outrage and widespread dissatisfaction with President Goodluck Jonathan, who failed to win re-election last month. Dozens of the girls managed to escape their captors as they were driven away from the school but 219 are still missing.

Newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army general who once took over the country in a coup 30 years ago, has pledged to crush Boko Haram. Buhari takes office on May 29. In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, the new leader said he could not promise that Nigerian authorities will be able to find and rescue the missing schoolgirls, but: “I say to every parent, family member and friend of the children that my government will do everything in its power to bring them home.”

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Nigerien Army vs. Boko Haram

Government officials say Niger’s military has regained total control of the island of Karamga in Lake Chad after an attack by Boko Haram.

Nigerien paratroopers train with U.S. advisers during Exercise Flintlock 2007. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Larson)

Nigerien paratroopers train with U.S. Army advisers during Exercise Flintlock 2007.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Larson)

In a statement, Niger’s government said Monday (April 27) that its security and defense forces have cleared the enemies from the island, the Associated Press reported. (via FOX News)The government said 46 Nigerien soldiers and 28 civilians were killed in the attack, according to AFP (via News 24 South Africa). Government officials said 126 terrorists were also killed in the attack on the island’s army base.

The island was seized by hundreds of Boko Haram militants aboard motorized canoes at dawn on Saturday (April 25, their second attempt to capture it since February, army and government sources told Reuters.

Lake Chad’s islands, which lie in dense swampland, are an ideal base for mounting surprise attacks on the countries bordering the lake: Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria. Niger suffered a wave of attacks and suicide bombs in its southern border region of Diffa in February and March, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency there.

Niger joined a regional offensive in January that has been credited with retaking large swaths of territory from the Nigeria-based militant group Boko Haram, whose fighters had months of gains in Nigeria and pushed across borders. A February attack on Karamga killed seven Nigeran soldiers, and Niger towns bordering Nigeria have also been targeted.

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Mali Again

Mali and its neighbors (CIA World Factbook)

Mali and its neighbors
(CIA World Factbook)

Swedish peacekeepers in Mali say they have repelled a rebel attack on Timbuktu twice in two days. Heavily armed rebels in trucks fitted with machine guns retreated north of the city on Wednesday (April 29), a Swedish commander told the BBC.

Fighting has also intensified in other parts of the northwest Africa country in recent days. A pro-government militia said it had recaptured the eastern town of Menaka, while a coalition of Tuareg rebels claimed to have taken the town of Lere, the BBC said.

Timbuktu and the north of Mali were taken over by Tuareg rebels allied with jihadist groups in 2012. France intervened in January 2013 and the UN began deploying 10,000 peacekeepers in July of that year.

Peace negotiations have been complicated by the number of rebel groups with widely differing agendas.

They include secessionist Tuaregs, religious extremists and armed militias vying for control of lucrative trafficking routes.


April 29, 2015 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

AFRICA: Food for Thought

Why Mali Matters

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

For more than a decade we’ve been told how important it is for the U.S. and its allies in the war on terrorism to stay the course in Iraq and Afghanistan. If nothing else, one argument went, U.S. presence in those countries keeps them stable and keeps them from being turned into terrorist bases.

Since then the argument has been made for U.S. intervention in Yemen, Somalia, Uganda and Kenya. The key is keeping offshoots and allies of the terrorist group, al Qaeda, from gaining in a foothold around the Horn of Africa or the Muslim dominated countries of North Africa.

An op-ed piece in the New York Times today (Jan. 15) argues that now the U.S. must help the French military in its battle against terrorists, insurgents and Islamic extremists in the North African state of Mali. Written by Vicki Huddleston, who was U.S. ambassador to Mali from 2002 to 2005.

She maintains that its important that the U.S. do what it can — without committing combat troops — to prevent Mali from becoming “a launchpad for terrorism.”  The rebels in northern Mali have made common cause with Nigeria’s Boko Haram, which wants to create an Islamist state as well as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which has kidnapped several westerners in the desert ares of North Africa.

The Voice of America has a piece that identifies some of the major players among the Islamic coalition fighting the French. It also gives a brief summary of how Mali got in such a mess —  starting with a military coup last March. Reuters also has a simple, easy to follow timeline of the Malian conflict going back to last March’s military coup.

The Sahel Region. (Wikipedia)

The Sahel Region. (Wikipedia)

January 15, 2013 at 11:40 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: Congo Violence, Mali Mutiny, Sahel Food Crisis (UPDATE-Mali-2)

Congo Election Violence

A United Nations report say security forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) committed numerous human rights violations – including murders, shooting into crowds and arbitrary arrests – during contentious national elections late last year.

Investigators at the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC found at least 33 people were killed in the nation’s capital, Kinshasa, by security forces during November and December, the Associated Press reported. At least 83 other people were wounded and more than 250 were detained.

President Joseph Kabila won election Nov. 28 for a second-five year term with a reported 49 percent of the vote. But foreign observers, including the European Union and the United States said voting was marred by violence and intimidation.

The human rights abuses were attributed to elements of Kabila’s Republican Guard and the National Congolese police with armed forces troops involved to a lesser extent, Reuters reported.

The DRC – the second largest and fourth most populous country in Africa – has been wracked by civil war, invading armies and militias – including the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army – as well as a refugee crisis for decades. But is has some of the world’s largest copper and cobalt deposits – as well as gold, diamonds and oil.

Mali Soldiers and Rebels

Updates with White House condemnation of coup violence

Mali (CIA World Factbook)The North African nation of Mali has been battling an uprising by Tuareg tribesman for months and now the army is up in arms over poor equipment, supplies and compensation for the families of slain soldiers.

As soldiers fired their guns into the air Wednesday (March 21) in Bamako — the land-locked desert nation’s capital– and seized the government’s radio and TV broadcasting center, the question arose: Is it a coup, a mutiny or simply a protest?

The answer is now apparent: It’s a coup. On Thursday leaders of the rebellious soldiers announced on state television that they were ending “the incompetent rule” of President Amadou Toumani Toure and suspending Mali’s constitution to protest the poorly led campaign against the Tuareg rebels, the Voice of America reports.

In Washington, the White House issued a statement strongly condemning the coup’s violence and calling for “the immediate restoration of constitutional rule in Mali, including full civilian authority over the armed forces …” The statement added that the U.S. stood by Toure’s “legitimately elected government.”

Soldiers in a base outside the capital. and at another one closer to the fighting with the Tuaregs, began their protest complaining about the government’s inept response to the Tuareg rebellion that has seen several northen towns fall to the nomadic tribesmen and many soldiers killed or captured

Previously, according to the Associated Press, a Twitter message from Malian President Toumani Toure proclaimed: “There is no coup in Mali. There’s just a mutiny.” Now Toure’s whereabouts are unknown and several cabinet ministers have been arrested, according to reports out of Bamako.

The Tuaregs have sought an independent state in northern Mali for decades but the latest uprising was spurred by the recent return of heavily-armed Tuareg fighters from Libya where they served as mercenaries for Muammar Gaddafi before the Libyan strongman was deposed and killed.

Many Malian soldiers have been killed in the fighting for which they claim they are poorly armed and equipped. The Tuaregs have seized several northern towns.

Early reports Wednesday (March 21) said the Army revolt was merely recruits venting their frustration for how the Tuareg conflict was being handled but by late in the day parts of the capital were under the muntineers’ control and Toure was holed up in his presidential palace guarded by his elite Red Berets, according to the AFP news agency.

Meanwhile the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is calling on the Tuareg group known as the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad to halt their attacks and take the Malian government up on its offer of peace talks, the AP reported.

Chad: Sahel Hunger Crisis

In another Northern African desert country, children are starting to die from malnutrition as a hunger crisis looms across the Sahel, the arid borderland that stretches across the continent south of the Sahara.

The international relief agency, Action Contre La Faim (Action Against Hunger), says malnutrition has soared in western Chad.

Aid agencies like Action Against Hunger have been warning for months that the Sahel faces a food crisis because of drought, poor harvests and population dislocated by the war in Libya and the Tuareg revolt in Mali.

The United Nations estimates the crisis could affect at least 15 million people across Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkino Faso, Senegal, the Gambia and Mauritania.

All maps, CIA World Factbook

March 21, 2012 at 11:04 pm Leave a comment


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