Thirteen civilians travelling from Burkina Faso were killed on Thursday when their vehicle ran over a landmine in central Mali, local officials and a security source said, giving a provisional toll.
“Thirteen Malian and Burkinabe civilians were killed near the town of Boni when their vehicle struck a mine,” local official Mahmoud Traore told AFP, as a Malian security source blamed “terrorists” for the blast.
Turkey on Sunday arrested more suspected Islamic State (IS) jihadists in a major crackdown on the extremist group ahead of high-security New Year celebrations overshadowed by the first anniversary of an attack that left 39 dead.
Just minutes into 2017, Istanbul was rocked by an attack by an Uzbek gunman acting on behalf of IS who fired indiscriminately on revellers at the Reina nightclub on the Bosphorus.
It was another body blow to Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a year of attacks by jihadists and Kurdish rebels as well as a failed coup.
However there has been no major attack in Turkey in 2017 since the Reina murders, and security forces this year appear to be taking every possible precaution to ensure this New Year passes without incident.
In pre-dawn raids Sunday, authorities detained 20 suspected IS members in Istanbul, 15 of them foreigners, who are believed to have spent time in Syria or Iraq, the Dogan news agency said.
Turkish media have said the authorities had already detained some 200 suspected jihadists in recent days — including 75 in Istanbul and Ankara on Friday — fearing they could launch an attack over the New Year.
According to some reports, the government is particularly anxious that IS fighters who left the Syrian city of Raqa after its capture by pro-Kurdish militia this year have flooded back into Turkey.
– Police disguised as lottery sellers – A total of 37,000 police will be deployed in Istanbul alone on New Year’s night, more than double the number last year, according to Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin.
Some 4,000 members of the gendarmerie and coastguard are also being put on duty.
Meanwhile, authorities have either scrapped or banned any New Year celebrations in some of the most popular areas for revellers, including the major hub of Taksim Square, the buzzing area of Besiktas and upscale shopping district of Sisli.
Turkish state news agency Anadolu said that police disguised as lottery ticket and hot chestnut sellers would be deployed around Taksim to ensure security.
Officers also frisked passengers on the city’s ferries while heavy goods vehicles are banned from accessing the city centre from Sunday morning to Monday.
“We are having very serious security measures to ensure that our citizens, God willing, see in the New Year in peace and security,” Sahin said.
In the capital Ankara, similar measures have been taken with 9,700 police deployed and roads closed on the way to the central Kizilay Square.
– Reina shut, attacker on trial – The local authorities are planning a small ceremony at 1300 GMT Sunday to remember the victims of the Reina attack at the scene, attended by foreign consuls and Besiktas mayor Murat Hazinedar.
The Reina nightclub — once the haunt of Turkish football stars and even foreign celebrities — meanwhile is no more. It never reopened after the massacre and the authorities later bulldozed it on May 22, saying its owner had violated planning regulations.
Gunman Abdulkadir Masharipov was arrested after a 17 day manhunt hunkering down in a humdrum residential district of Istanbul, in a major triumph for the Turkish police that gave access to a potential goldmine of intelligence about IS activities.
He confessed to have taken his orders to carry out the attack from a Syria-based Russian jihadist with the codename Abu Jihad. Masharipov had first intended to attack Taksim Square but seeing the high security switched his target to the Reina club.
Masharipov and more than 50 other suspects went on trial in Istanbul on December 11. The Uzbek faces 40 life sentences for each of the victims and the crime itself.
Facing similar charges is his wife Zarina Nurullayeva, who denied any involvement in the plot. Masharipov has refused to testify in the trial, which is now due to resume on March 26.
Of the 39 people killed in the Reina attack, 27 were foreigners, including citizens from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq and Morocco.
Germany’s leaders admitted Tuesday that the government failed to provide adequate support and comfort to relatives of victims in last year’s devastating Christmas market attack, and acknowledged security gaps in the run-up to the atrocity.
A year after rejected Tunisian asylum seeker Anis Amri rammed a truck into the crowded market at the Breitscheidplatz, killing 12 people and wounding 70, the authorities have come under fire over security failings and their clumsy handling of the aftermath of the assault.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, accused of failing to reach out personally to families of victims, had met with them for the first time only Monday.
“The talks were very open, and from the part of those affected, no holds barred, and pointed to the weakness of our country in this situation,” Merkel said, as Germany held a day of solemn commemoration for the victims on Tuesday.
“Today must be not the only day of sadness, but also a day of our will to make better things that did not work well,” she vowed, adding that she had offered to meet the bereaved again in a few months’ time.
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also told the bereaved and emergency workers at a private church memorial for the victims that “it is true that some support came late and remained unsatisfactory”.
“Many family members and injured — many of you — felt abandoned by the state,” he said, recalling the words of a mother who had lost her daughter and said no one had comforted her after the attack.
“I can’t get those words out of my head,” he said, saying that the relatives’ appeal to be heard had “triggered something and set it in motion.”
In the hours following the assault, which was claimed by the Islamic State group, politicians had put on a brave front and repeated the mantra that Germany would not be cowed by terror.
But Steinmeier said such rhetoric had done little for the victims.
“So soon after the attack… these words don’t sound simply defiant and self-confident, but also strangely cold and detached,” he said.
– ‘We can only apologise’ – At midday, Merkel joined relatives in inaugurating a memorial — a 14-meter (46-foot) golden crack in the ground engraved with the victims’ names.
An ecumenical prayer was held later to remember the victims, while at 8:02 pm (1902 GMT) — the exact time when Amri rammed his truck into the crowded square — the church’s bells chimed for 12 minutes.
But the run-up to the commemoration has been marred by criticism of the authorities by families of the victims.
A wrenching open letter by some of the bereaved accused Merkel of failing to personally offer condolences.
“They have not even tried to listen to us, to understand our needs,” said Bild Yaron, the brother-in-law of Dalia Elyakim, an Israeli woman killed in the attack.
Susanne Covington, 62, who came to light a candle at Breitscheidplatz, said Merkel “should have done something a little earlier”.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas apologised in an editorial in the Tagesspiegel newspaper: “We were not sufficiently prepared to deal with the consequences of such a terror attack.
“For that, we can only apologise to the victims and their surviving relatives.”
– ‘Taxi costs not reimbursed’ – Kurt Beck, who was commissioned by the government to look into the handling of the aftermath, last week outlined a litany of official failings, including taking up to three days to inform anxious relatives that their loved ones had perished and even sending the bereaved autopsy bills complete with late-payment warnings.
Further adding to the embarrassment, the Bild newspaper said the letter inviting relatives to Tuesday’s commemoration was accompanied by an information sheet stating that “taxi costs will not be reimbursed!” and urging them to use public transport instead.
A spokeswoman for Berlin authorities, Claudia Suender, told Tagesspiegel that such information was “required under the budgetary and administrative law” even if she “regretted the impression it gave.”
Police also faced fierce criticism after it emerged that Amri, who arrived in Germany in 2015 and registered under several different identities, should have been deported.
On Sunday, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper said the Tunisian had been under close surveillance by Germany’s secret service than previously thought, suggesting the authorities might have left him free in order to detect his instigators.
Amri himself was shot and killed four days after the attack by police in Italy, where he had previously lived.
A year after an Islamic jihadist ploughed a truck into a Christmas market crowd, killing 12, Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet Monday with the victims’ families for the first time.
The private gathering on the eve of the anniversary of the atrocity comes against the backdrop of angry recriminations by many of the bereaved, who say official incompetence and neglect since the assault have inflicted fresh wounds.
Last December 19 at 8:02 pm, Anis Amri, a 24-year-old Tunisian who had failed to obtain asylum, rammed a stolen truck into crowds at the market on the Breitscheidplatz, a popular destination for Berliners and tourists alike.
The victims came from Germany as well as countries including Israel, Italy, the Czech Republic and Ukraine.
More than 70 people were injured in the attack, the deadliest ever carried out in Germany.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility the next day, and Amri was shot and killed four days later by police in Italy, where he had previously lived.
Although Merkel has visited the scene of the attack at least four times, including once to the reopened Christmas market last week, it will be her first face-to-face talks with relatives of the victims, some of whom have accused her of ignoring their needs and concerns.
In a wrenching open letter to the chancellor this month, before the meeting was announced, several family members condemned her “political inaction” and accused her of failing to reach out to them.
“Almost a year after the attack, we note that you have not shared your condolences with us either in person or in writing,” the letter said.
“In our opinion, this means that you are not living up to the responsibilities of your office.”
– ‘Bills for autopsies’ – A government-commissioned report released last week identified a litany of shortcomings in the response to the tragedy.
Some relatives desperately searching for their loved ones were told only three days after the attack that a family member had perished, even though they could have been given early warning through facial identification.
Others were sent “bills for autopsies — including warnings for late payment, I didn’t want to believe it, but I had such a letter in hand,” said the author of the report, Kurt Beck.
“Such experiences should never be repeated,” he said, adding that Germany “was not prepared” to deal with the attack’s aftermath.
The government has paid out 1.6 million euros ($1.9 million) in compensation to the wounded and victims’ families.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas pledged that Berlin would take action “to ensure that when something so terrible happens that the relatives of victims are taken care of as well as possible.”
“We have learned from our mistakes,” he said.
Another factor keeping the wounds raw has been steady leaks in the press about administrative gaffes and missteps leading up to the attack.
Amri, who arrived in Germany in the summer of 2015, at the height of the refugee influx, registered under several different identities. Media reports citing the investigation have said that he plotted the attack from the start.
Authorities knew him to be an Islamist extremist and drug dealer whose asylum claim had been rejected and who was being intermittently monitored by police.
But Amri was never deported or arrested.
– ‘Maybe Germans are naive’ – Israeli tourist Rami Elyakim, 64, who lost Dalia, his wife of four decades, in the attack, said he remembered only drinking mulled wine together at the market.
Elyakim, who sustained broken bones throughout his body and still has difficulty moving, said that living in Israel he and his family had grown used to attacks, but they did not expect terror would strike them in Berlin.
“We thought Germany was safe,” he told the Bild newspaper. “In Israel no one who was planning something like this would walk around free. Maybe the Germans are naive.”
On the anniversary itself Tuesday, the Christmas market will be closed for the day so the families and first responders who tended to victims can attend a memorial ceremony in the church on the same square.
Merkel, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller will inaugurate a memorial — a 14-metre (46-foot) golden crack in the ground engraved with the victims’ names.
In the afternoon, the site will open to the public for those wishing to pay their respects and join in a prayer for peace at dusk.
At the exact time of the attack, the church’s bells will chime above a sea of lighted candles.
Gunmen on Tuesday were said to have invaded a farmhouse belonging to the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu.
The anti-graft agency which confirmed the incident also noted that a policeman was killed in the process.
#TheEagle re-affirms its resolve not be deterred in its mission of ridding Nigeria of corruption despite the recent attack on a farmhouse belonging to Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC boss, in Karshi, a suburb in Abuja, which unfortunately resulted in death of a police officer on duty. pic.twitter.com/RsFlsHJndF
Plateau State government has condemned the attack on a village which left six persons dead and five others injured in Bassa Local Government Area of the state.
Tegbe village in Jebbu Miango area of the state was attacked on Saturday, hours after the state government imposed a 12-hour curfew on the local government.
In a statement issued on Sunday by the Director, Press and Public Affairs, Samuel Nanle, the state government said the incident sought to “take the state back to the dark days of violent conflicts”.
It, however, said it would not relent in its renewed efforts at identifying and prosecuting all those behind the heinous crime.
“Government is, therefore, pleading with all residents of these areas of conflicts in Bassa and the surrounding border villages to volunteer useful information that will lead to the apprehension of all the criminals behind this sudden resurgence of terror,” the statement said.
The government also warned that any person or group in villages and neighbourhoods identified to have been providing refuge and escape for perpetrators of the act would not be spared the wrath of the law.
While sympathising with families of the victims, the state governor, Simon Lalong, directed the State Emergency Management Agency and the Ministry of Health to urgently coordinate medical services for the injured., as well as provide all necessary humanitarian relief materials to the areas of the attacks.
He also ordered the supply of all necessary humanitarian relief materials to the areas of the attacks and called for calm from all law-abiding citizens in the areas as security has been reinforced.
The governor added that intelligence and security search and patrol have been intensified to ensure the immediate arrest of the culprits.
Six people, including five students, were killed in an attack by suspected South Sudanese raiders on a boarding school in Lokichogio, in Kenya’s far north, early Saturday, authorities said.
“Six people were killed in the attack, including students, and we have others injured,” said Seif Matata, Turkana county’s commissioner.
Matata said the incident occurred at around 03:00 am (00:00 GMT) while students at Lokichogio Mixed Secondary School were asleep in their dormitories.
Members of the Toposa tribal militia from South Sudan, 200 kilometres (124 miles) to the north, are believed to be responsible for the attack with Matata alleging that a suspended student participated in the raid.
Kenya Red Cross said it had evacuated some of the injured by plane to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret for emergency treatment.
Turkana, an arid region bordering South Sudan, is awash with small arms and violent clashes between competing communities over resources and territory are common.
Two university employees were killed and two police officers and a driver injured Tuesday morning when unknown gunmen fired on a vehicle close to Diani, a popular coastal tourist resort in Kenya.
The car was transporting officers and staff members from Diani to the Technical University of Mombasa’s nearby Kwale campus when gunmen opened fire on Tuesday morning.
“The officers were escorting university staff members when they were ambushed by the gunmen who killed two and wounded three including two officers,” said regional police chief Larry Kieng.
Kieng said the two university workers died at the scene while the wounded have been taken to the hospital.
After the attack, a silver sedan car was left riddled with bullet holes and abandoned on the side of a narrow dirt road about two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the university.
No students were reported injured in the attack.
– AK47 rifles used –
Kieng said an investigation was underway with police searching for the assailants, who used AK47 rifles, and that Islamic militants, as well as bandits, were among the suspects.
A month ago suspected Islamic militants attacked a church in the area killing two police officers and stealing their rifles.
Kenya’s coast attracts foreign and domestic tourists but has been affected in recent years by fears of radicalisation of the predominately poor Muslim residents by militants linked to Somalia’s Shabaab.
A series of attacks have also hit visitor numbers with some foreign governments warning their citizens against travelling to Kenya’s coast.
However, most terror attacks on Kenya’s coast have occurred much further north, towards the border with Somalia.
The group had approached eminent Nigerians for assistance, culminating in Dickens Sanomi Foundation picking up the bill.
Contrary to doctors’ predictions that Ali would be able to walk after three weeks of recuperation, the little boy without prompting walked unaided on September, the 23rd, 2017, six days after the operation.