Ten Killed In Mozambique Jihadist Attack – Witnesses

 

Ten people were killed in an ambush attributed to jihadists in Mozambique’s far north, witnesses said Friday, the latest attack in a region where suspected Islamist extremists have waged a campaign of terror for two years.

Gunmen ambushed a truck near the village of Mbau in the northernmost Cabo Delgado province on Thursday, a witness told AFP.

“The vehicle was bogged down in a sandy road and suddenly unidentified people started shooting at us,” said a young businessman on condition of anonymity.

He said that 10 people had been killed, a death toll confirmed by a villager.

“The situation is deteriorating. People are leaving their villages” for the port city of Mocimboa, the villager told AFP.

He said the attacks had increased since the West African country’s contentious general election on October 15.

After torching the truck, the attackers looted nearby homes and stole food, according to both sources.

Since 2017 Cabo Delgado has suffered a wave of deadly attacks that has killed 300 civilians and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

The violence has been blamed on a shadowy jihadist organisation apparently intent on imposing Islamic Sharia law.

Little is known about the attackers, who are usually referred to Al-Shabaab, despite having no known link to the Somali jihadist group of the same name.

The government has deployed significant reinforcements to the province after the attacks delayed development of vast gas reserves discovered in 2010.

25 Soldiers Killed, 60 Missing In Mali Jihadist Attacks

 

Malian troops backed by foreign allies on Wednesday launched a hunt for scores of comrades listed as missing after one of the deadliest attacks in a seven-year-old jihadist insurgency.

At least 25 troops were killed after militants aboard heavily-armed vehicles raided two military camps at Boulkessy and Mondoro near the border with Burkina Faso, according to a provisional toll.

Fifteen jihadists, according to government figures, were killed in the raids, which began early Monday and were quelled more than a day later.

But around 60 soldiers are listed as missing — 78, according to a security source — with no details as to whether they have been killed or captured.

“Operations to secure the area are under way with Mali’s partners,” a Malian military source said.

“Our objective is to consolidate our presence in Boulkessy and to focus on soldiers of whom we are currently without news.”

Hundreds of angry youths and wives of soldiers demonstrated outside a military camp in the capital Bamako late Wednesday.

Some demonstrators burned tyres to block off the avenue.

“We came here because the government is not telling the truth about the number of dead,” a woman demonstrator told AFP.

“It’s our husbands, the red berets, who are at Boulkessy.”

“My father is a soldier, he’s at Boulkessy, and I haven’t any news of him,” said 15-year-old Ali Oumar Diakite. “They’re lying to us. The army is under-equipped.”

Blow

The losses are a crushing blow to Mali’s armed forces, which are flailing in the face of a jihadist revolt that has spread from the arid north to its centre, an ethnically mixed and volatile region.

The operation is also a humiliation for the so-called G5 Sahel force — a much-trumpeted initiative under which five countries decided to create a joint 5,000-man anti-terror force — and for France, which is committed to shoring up the fragile region.

The losses symbolise “the escalating activities of violent extremist groups (in the Sahel) with more and more ambitious targets,” said Baba Dakono of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), a think tank based in Senegal.

Only 13 soldiers emerged unscathed from the attacks, which were eventually subdued with the help of Malian special forces and foreign allies, including French warplanes.

The jihadists also made off with a large quantity of arms, ammunition and equipment — local media say about 20 vehicles were captured, including some mounted with machine-guns.

According to an army report seen by AFP, two army helicopters and about a dozen vehicles were burned in the attack on Boulkessy.

The camp there — which housed a Malian battalion that was part of the G5 Sahel — was destroyed.

The G5 Sahel secretariat said the assailants were members of Ansarul Islam, a jihadist group accused of multiple attacks in northern Burkina Faso.

Other sources were unable to confirm this.

Fragile Centre

Jihadists lost control of northern Mali after French military intervention, but regrouped to carry out hit-and-run raids and roadmine attacks — classic tactics by a mobile guerrilla force.

They have also moved on to the country’s central region, where they have inflamed long-standing resentments between ethnic groups, analysts say.

On March 17, the Malian army lost nearly 30 men in an attack on a camp in Dioura, also in the troubled central region.

That assault came on the heels of a massacre of 160 Fulani (also called Peul) villagers — a bloodbath that led to a military reshuffle and the government’s resignation.

UN chief Antonio Guterres has been pounding the drum for help for Sahel states, among the poorest in the world, in their struggle against the mobile, well-armed and ruthless jihadists.

On September 14, the West African regional group ECOWAS announced a billion-dollar plan to help fund the military operations of the nations involved. Full details will be presented at a summit in December.

Twin Attacks Kill At Least 20 Police Officers In Yemen

Yemeni security forces gather at the scene of a missile attack on a military camp west of Yemen’s government-held second city Aden, on August 1, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

 

Two separate attacks killed at least 20 police officers in Yemen’s government-held second city Aden Thursday, one by Shiite rebels and the other by jihadists, security and medical sources said.

Civilians were among scores of people wounded in the two attacks which targeted the United Arab Emirates-backed police and shattered a year of relative calm in the southern port city.

The first attack was a suicide car bombing carried out by jihadists on a police station, which killed three officers and wounded at least 20 others, including civilians, a security source said.

The second attack was carried out by the Huthi rebels, who used a drone and a ballistic missile to target a parade in a police camp west of Aden and killed 17 officers and wounded scores more, medical sources and the rebels said.

The suicide bombing targeted policemen who were gathering early in the morning at the entrance of a police station in Aden’s Sheikh Othman area.

“Tens of wounded were hospitalised at Aden surgical hospital after an explosion in the surrounding area,” Doctors Without Borders said on Twitter.

The Huthi rebels said the attack on Al-Jala Camp, about 20 kilometres (13 miles) west of Aden, was carried out with a drone and a ballistic missile.

Aden is controlled by the Yemeni government and its supporters in a Saudi-led coalition, who have been fighting the Huthi rebels since 2015.

But it also hosts Sunni extremists of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, who have claimed a number of attacks in the city in recent years.

In February last year, twin suicide bombings claimed by IS hit a base of an Aden counter-terrorism unit, killing five people, including a child.

Five months later, two people were killed when an attacker blew himself in the city.

The government established its headquarters in Aden after the rebels forced it out of the capital Sanaa in 2015.

In January last year, the city was rocked by deadly clashes that saw southern separatists seize much of it from other pro-government forces.

A former British colony and protectorate, South Yemen was an independent country until it merged with the north in 1990.

The two sides fought a devastating civil war four years later that culminated in northern forces occupying the south. sowing grievances that persist to this day.

The UAE is a key partner in the Saudi-led coalition which has enforced an air and sea blockade on rebel-held areas and carried out a controversial bombing campaign that has exacted a heavy civilian death toll.

In recent months, the rebels have hit back with missile and drone attacks targeting neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Several rounds of UN-brokered talks, including an accord reached in Stockholm in December, have failed to end the fighting.

The conflict has killed or wounded tens of thousands of people and resulted in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.

An estimated 24 million Yemenis — more than 80 percent of the population — depend on some form of humanitarian assistance for survival, UN agencies say.

AFP

Armed Men Kill 14 In Burkina Faso Village Raid

Burkina Faso on the map.

 

Armed men described as jihadists raided a village in Burkina Faso’s restive north, killing 14 people, plundering and burning shops and motorbikes, local and security sources said Saturday.

The raid took place on the night of Thursday to Friday with “around 20 individuals attacking the village of Diblou and killing 14 people,” a security source said.

“The terrorists burnt shops and motorcycles. Almost the entire market was looted,” a local resident said.

“Almost all the inhabitants fled to neighbouring areas.”

READ ALSO: Tunisia Mourns, Advances Polls After Death Of President

The poor Sahel state has been battling a rising wave of jihadist attacks over the last four years which began in the north but have since spread to the east, near the border with Togo and Benin.

Most attacks in the former French colony are attributed to the jihadist group Ansarul Islam, which emerged near the Mali border in December 2016, and to the JNIM (Group to Support Islam and Muslims), which has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Those groups are believed to be responsible for around 500 deaths since 2015. The capital of Ouagadougou has been attacked three times.

AFP

Six Killed As Jihadists Attack Burkina Faso School

 

Armed jihadists attacked a village school in eastern Burkina Faso, killing five teachers and a municipal worker, officials said Saturday. 

Burkina Faso, a former French colony, has seen a surge in attacks blamed on radical Islamist groups — mainly the Ansarul Islam group and the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) — in the last four years.

The latest attack happened on Friday evening at Maitaougou village in the Koulpelogo province, which has been targeted by extremists.

“Jihadists led an incursion into Maitaougou village… and killed five teachers,” a security source said.

“Four teachers died instantly in the attack, which took place at around 5:00 pm in the heart of the school, while a fifth succumbed to his injuries a few hours later.”

READ ALSO: Six Children, Nine Others Killed In Sri Lanka Raid – Police

A municipal worker was also killed in the same area, several sources said.

Burkinabe President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said he firmly condemned “this cowardly and ignoble killing” and vowed to track down the perpetrators.

The attacks were initially concentrated in the north of the country, but then the capital Ouagadougou and other regions were targeted. Since 2015, about 350 people have died in the violence, according to an AFP count.

AFP

30 Jihadists ‘Killed Or Captured’ In Raids Near Burkina Faso – French Military

Burkina Faso on the map.

 

French and Malian troops killed or captured more than 30 extremists and dismantled a jihadist training camp during a major counter-terrorism operation near Mali’s border with Burkina Faso, the French military told AFP on Friday.

“Over 30 members of armed terrorist groups were neutralised,” the military said, a term meaning that they were killed or captured.

A French military doctor was also killed during the operation, the military previously reported.

The operation was launched in late March in Gourma, a crossroads region in Mali’s central belt that flanks the border with Burkina Faso.

The doctor was killed when his vehicle hit a mine, bringing to 24 the number of French defence force members killed in counter-terrorism operations in the region since 2013.

Some 4,500 French troops are deployed in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad to help local forces try to flush out jihadist groups, six years after France helped chase al-Qaeda fundamentalists out of northern Mali.

The Gourma area is a haven for armed groups who hide in the forests along the border with Burkina Faso to the south, including a group suspected of carrying out several cross-border attacks.

Around 700 French troops and 150 Malian troops were deployed in the air and ground operation to try to destroy their bases.

On the other side of the border Burkina Faso had deployed troops “to prevent any attempt by the enemy to escape towards the south of the zone,” French military spokesman Patrik Steiger said.

The operation first targeted the Foulsare forest in the southwest of Gao province, where the troops found “a logistical base” containing rocket launchers and other weaponry, the military said.

No jihadists were killed in that offensive, the defence forces said.

The second phase of the operation, which caused the losses on the jihadists’ side, targeted several sites including a training camp in the Serma forest.

A pick-up truck, a dozen motorbikes and arms and ammunition, including large amounts of material used to make roadside bombs were seized, the military said.

AFP

Europeans Reject Trump’s Call To Repatriate Syria Jihadists

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting to “discuss fighting human trafficking on the southern border”/ Reuters

 

European officials on Monday gave a cold shoulder to a call by US President Donald Trump to take back citizens captured in the fight against Islamic State jihadists in Syria for prosecution back home.

Concerns rose about the fate of European nationals now being held by Kurdish forces after Trump shocked his coalition allies in December by announcing the withdrawal of American troops from Syria.

Officials worry the Kurds will no longer be able to ensure the captives’ detention, especially if their longtime foe Turkey mounted an assault on Kurdish fighters to keep them from establishing control in Syrian cities.

Trump tweeted on Sunday that Washington was “asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial”.

But EU nations say any captured fighters and their family members should be prosecuted for alleged crimes where they occurred.

That would mean in Syria or Iraq, now that coalition forces are wresting the last pockets of Syrian territory from IS control.

In London, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said the IS foreign fighters should be tried where they are captured.

“Foreign fighters should be brought to justice in accordance with due legal process in the most appropriate jurisdiction,” the spokesman said.

“Where possible, this should be in the region where the crimes had been committed,” he added.

In Berlin, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told ARD television it would be “extremely difficult” to organise the fighters’ repatriation and eventual prosecution.

A return could be possible only if “we can guarantee that these people can be immediately sent here to appear in court and that they will be detained,” he said.

– ‘Not changing our policy’ –
In France, which accounts for the largest number of European jihadists in Syria, Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said the government would stick to its current policy of dealing with fighters on a case-by-case basis.

Speaking on France 2 television, she acknowledged that the withdrawal of US troops from Syria would bring about a “new geopolitical situation… but at this stage we’re not changing our policy”.

France has long refused to take back fighters and their wives, of whom 150 are thought to be in Syria, with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian referring to them as “enemies” of the nation.

But the US allies have been grappling for weeks with what to do with foreign fighters detained in the war-ravaged country by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which have led the battle on the ground against the jihadists.

The Kurds have warned the West that they lack the resources to ensure the foreign jihadists in their jails don’t escape, and have urged their home countries to take them back.

The issue has gained new urgency with the Islamic State’s former “caliphate” now almost completely destroyed.

Last week Shamima Begum, a London school girl who joined IS in 2015, resurfaced in a Syrian refugee camp, saying she wanted to return to raise a baby she gave birth to while abroad.

UK security officials said they could not block Begum’s return since she had never been convicted of any crimes, but they did not rule out prosecuting her upon her arrival.

In Belgium, a judge on Wednesday ordered officials to organise the return of six Belgian children and their mothers from a Syrian refugee camp overseen by Kurdish forces.

The children, aged six or under, were born to suspected jihadist fighters and Brussels had resisted calls for their repatriation.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told reporters his government had always intended to bring back children under 10 whenever possible, while others would be dealt with on a “case by case” basis.

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini ruled out any EU involvement in the disputes, saying they are a matter for national governments.

Belgian, German, and British officials also called for further international concertation on the issue.

Seven Jihadists Killed, Others Injured In Egyptian Attack

 

Egypt’s army said Saturday seven suspected jihadists were “eliminated” and 15 soldiers killed or wounded in an attack in the Sinai Peninsula, where the military is fighting the Islamic State group.

Security forces responded to the attack on a checkpoint in restive North Sinai with an “exchange of fire”, army spokesman Tamer el-Refai said in a statement.

“An officer and 14 non-commissioned soldiers were killed or wounded,” he added, without giving a precise number for the dead.

Medical sources in North Sinai told AFP that 11 soldiers were killed in the attack.

Security forces would continue to pursue “the terrorist elements to eliminate them”, El-Refai added.

READ ALSO: Tunisian Workers Kidnapped In Libya

Egypt often announces that jihadists have been killed in military operations, but statements that security forces have suffered significant losses are very rare.

Since the army’s overthrow of elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed in attacks by extremist groups.

Civilians have also been targeted in jihadist attacks, particularly members of Egypt’s minority Coptic Christian community.

Egypt’s army launched an offensive a year ago dubbed “Sinai 2018” on the orders of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, after a jihadist attack in North Sinai killed more than 300 people at a mosque.

The army says that more than 550 suspected jihadists have been killed in the offensive — which has also targeted militants elsewhere in Egypt — at the cost of more than 30 soldiers.

But no independent statistics are available and the North Sinai is largely cut off to media and foreigners.

AFP

 

One Killed As Terrorists Attack Libya’s Foreign Ministry In Tripoli

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One person has been reported dead following gunfire and at least one explosion rocked Libya’s foreign ministry on Tuesday as attackers stormed the building in the capital Tripoli.

The assault was carried out by several “terrorist attackers”, according to the Libyan unity government’s official TV channel, which cited foreign and interior ministry sources.

Plumes of smoke were seen rising from the building, witnesses said.

There was no immediate casualty toll or claim of responsibility.

READ ALSO: 43 Killed, Dozens Injured As Gunmen Attack Government Compound In Kabul

Torn apart by power struggles and undermined by chronic insecurity, Libya has become a haven for jihadists since the ouster and killing of Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The Islamic State group took advantage of the chaos to gain a foothold in the coastal city of Sirte in 2015.

Forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) regained control of the city in December 2016 after eight months of deadly fighting.

Since then, some jihadists have returned to the desert in an attempt to regroup and reorganise.

In September, IS claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on the headquarters of Libya’s National Oil Company in the heart of Tripoli which left two dead and 10 wounded.

Four months earlier, it claimed an attack on the electoral commission’s headquarters which left 14 dead.

At Least Eight Killed In Burkina Faso Twin Attacks

 

At least eight civilians have been killed in twin attacks in eastern Burkina Faso, where jihadists have been gaining ground in recent months, local authorities said Saturday.

“Two terror attacks were carried out in the villages of Diabiga and Kompienbiga” overnight in eastern Kompienga province, claiming at least eight lives, the regional governor said in a statement.

An unnamed security source told AFP that one of the attacks had targeted the home of a religious leader who was killed along with four other people.

Meanwhile, “three people belonging to the same family were killed and another two injured by suspected jihadists on mopeds,” according to another security source.

Since 2015, Burkina Faso has battled increased Islamist violence of the sort that plagues neighbouring Mali and Niger, and experts say the recent surge is likely the result of pressure on jihadist insurgents there.

AFP

Egyptian Army Kills 52 Jihadists In Sinai Peninsula

A picture taken on July 26, 2018, shows Egyptian policemen stand to guard a checkpoint on a road leading to the North Sinai provincial capital of El-Arish. PHOTO: Khaled DESOUKI / AFP
A picture taken on July 26, 2018, shows Egyptian policemen stand to guard a checkpoint on a road leading to the North Sinai provincial capital of El-Arish. PHOTO: Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

 

The Egyptian army said on Sunday that its forces have killed, over the past few days, 52 jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula where the military is conducting a vast operation against militants.

Egyptian forces launched operation “Sinai 2018” in February to rid the peninsula of Islamic militants who have been waging a bloody insurgency.

“Over the last few days, the operations have led to… the elimination of 52 extremely dangerous takfiri individuals,” the military said in a statement referring to Sunni Muslim extremists.

During these operations in North Sinai and the centre of the peninsula 49 militants were also arrested in joint raids conducted by the armed forces and the police, the statement added.

More than 250 jihadists and at least 30 soldiers have been killed since the military launched the operation, according to official figures.

Jihadists launched an insurgency in Sinai after the 2013 military overthrow of Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was forced out in the face of mass protests against his rule.

AFP

‘First’ Woman Arrested In Mali For Helping Jihadists Make Bombs

Smoke and flames ascend from an army armoured vehicle in Gao, northwestern Mali, following an explosion on July 1, 2018. PHOTO: STRINGER / AFP

 

Mali’s intelligence services have arrested a Malian woman who was helping jihadists make explosives by supplying them with fertiliser, a first in the country badly hit by terror attacks, security sources told AFP on Friday.

“On Thursday, we arrested a Malian woman in Bamako who was helping jihadists make explosives and mines by providing them sizeable quantities of fertiliser. She knew what the fertiliser was used for,” a Malian security source told AFP.

The woman is from Mopti, in central Mali, where jihadists have struck repeatedly in recent months — often with homemade explosive devices.

Investigators did not reveal the quantity of fertiliser delivered to the jihadists. They are now looking for “other accomplices,” according to the same source, who said the arrest was a first in Mali.

“We still do not know the quantity of fertiliser that was provided. But imagine all the landmine and explosives victims!” another security source said, adding the woman was working closely with the Macina Liberation Front (FLM).

The FLM is a jihadist group formed in 2015 and headed by a radical Malian preacher, Amadou Koufa, who hails from the Fulani community.

Koufa pledged allegiance to the Al-Qaeda-linked Support Group for Islam and Muslims, the main jihadist alliance in the Sahel.

The 34-year-old woman, who was arrested and detained in Bamako, looked wide-eyed and scared in a picture obtained by AFP.

Landmines and explosives have killed scores in northern Mali, which fell into the hands of Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist groups in 2012.

The extremists were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.

But large stretches of the country remain out of the control of the foreign and Malian forces, which are frequent targets of attacks, despite a peace accord signed with Tuareg leaders in mid-2015 aimed at isolating the jihadists.

The violence has also spilled over into both Burkina Faso and Niger.

AFP