Nigerians Attacked Again In South Africa

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A Nigerian/attack victim

Some Nigerian real estate agents in Turffontein, South Africa, have been attacked by local residents who allege that they were hijacking their houses.

The timely intervention of the Police however, quelled the tension in the area.

Some South Africans alleged that the hijacked homes were either turned to brothels or used for harbouring drug lords.

We Work Hard

Meanwhile, some of the victims of the attacks who said the claims were untrue, narrated their plight to Channels Television.

One of the agents explained that their businesses were legitimate and whatever benefits they received were only a result of their hard work.

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Victim Showing Legal Documents

“They say we are driving nice cars, wearing expensive clothes, getting married to their women – Its by God’s grace, we work hard for it,” one of the victims said.

The attack is happening in the same week that the Nigerian and South African governments are holding talks to stop the attacks on foreign nationals in the country.

Both countries had agreed to set up an early warning unit to look into issues that often bring friction between the citizens.

The Nigerian Government had also called on the South African Government to take decisive and definitive measures to protect its citizens and other Africans within the country’s borders.

The call was made by the Senior Special Assistant to Nigeria’s President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa also urged the African Union to intervene urgently in the renewed attacks.

Xenophobia: Nigerian Lawmakers Meet With Former President Mbeki

Xenophobia: Nigerian Lawmakers Meet With Former President MbekiSome members of Nigeria’s House of Representatives have met with South Africa’s former President, Thabo Mbeki in Johannesburg.

The meeting is part of the series of discussions to address the reoccurring attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals in the country.

It is also coming ahead of a town hall meeting with Nigerian citizens at the High Commission in Pretoria scheduled for Saturday.

Speaking to Channels Television after the meeting, former President Mbeki welcomed the visit of the Nigerian delegations, saying it will help tackle the repeated attacks on fellow Africans.

The lawmakers were led on the visit to South Africa by the Leader of the House, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila.

In another development, some Nigerian real estate agents in Turffontein, South Africa were attacked by local residents who alleged that they were hijacking their houses.

xenophobic attacks

The timely intervention of the Police however, quelled the tension in the area.

While the South Africans claimed that the hijacked homes were either turned to brothels or used for harbouring drug lords, the foreigners said the claims were false.

One of the agents told Channels Television that their businesses were legitimate and whatever benefits they received were only a result of their hard work.

“They said we are driving nice cars, wearing expensive clothes, getting married to their women – It’s by God’s grace, we work hard for it,” he said.

French Forces Yet To Find Abou Zeid’s Body In Mali

The head of France’s joint chiefs of staff, Edouard Guillaud has described news of Al Qaeda’s senior field commander in the Sahara, Abdelhamid Abou Zeid’s death as ‘probable.’

Guillaud’s remarks are the first indication from the French government that Abou Zeid died in fighting in the rugged north of Mali.

Asked on Europe 1 radio whether he had been killed, Guillaud said: “It is probable, but only probable. We don’t have any certainty for the moment, (but) it would be good news.”

Guillaud said that Abou Zeid’s death could not be confirmed because his body had not been recovered.

Chad’s army, which is fighting alongside French forces in northern Mali, said last week that it killed Abou Zeid and another al Qaeda commander in the area, Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

Guillaud said he was “extremely cautious” about reports of Belmokhtar’s death, noting that some militant websites had said the al Qaeda commander behind January’s mass hostage-taking in Algeria was still alive.

Abou Zeid is regarded as one of AQIM’s most ruthless operators, responsible for the kidnapping of more than 20 Western hostages since 2008. He is believed to have killed British hostage Edwin Dyer in 2009 and 78-year-old Frenchman Michel Germaneau in 2010.

While his killing would deal a serious blow to al Qaeda’s leadership in the region, it also raises questions about the fate of seven French hostages thought to be held in northern Mali.

After a seven-week-old campaign, French, Chadian and Malian troops have pushed Qaeda-linked fighters, who had threatened to take over Mali, back to their mountain and desert hideouts.

Guillaud said French forces had found some 50 supply caches and around 10 workshops for making bombs that could be used well outside of the immediate region.

“On the ground we are finding literally an industrialization of terrorism,” he said.

Chad Says Al Qaeda Commander Killed In Mali, France Cautious

One of al Qaeda’s most feared commanders in Africa, Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, has been killed by Chadian forces in northern Mali, Chad’s President Idriss Deby said on Friday.

French officials said they could not confirm the report.

“It was Chadian forces who killed two jihadi leaders, including Abou Zeid,” Deby told opposition politicians in the presence of journalists after a funeral ceremony for Chadian soldiers killed in fighting at the weekend.

Chadian soldiers with support from French special forces and fighter jets are hunting down pockets of al Qaeda-linked insurgents in the border region with Algeria after a seven-week French-led campaign broke Islamist domination of northern Mali.

The death of Abou Zeid, who has earned AQIM tens of millions of dollars with a spate of kidnappings of Westerners in the Sahara over the last five years, would be a significant but far from fatal blow to the group.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the one-eyed mastermind of a mass hostage-taking at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria last month, remains at large. So does Tuareg Islamist leader Iyad ag Ghali, who was this week placed on the U.S. global terrorist list.

Sources close to Islamist militants and tribal elders had earlier said Abou Zeid, blamed for kidnapping at least 20 Westerners in the Sahara, was among 40 militants killed within the past few days in the foothills of the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains.

Algeria’s Ennahar television, which is well connected with Algerian security services, had reported his death on Thursday but there was no official confirmation.

A former smuggler turned jihadi, Algerian-born Abou Zeid is regarded as one of the most ruthless operators of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). He is believed to have executed British hostage Edwin Dyer in 2009 and 78-year-old Frenchman Michel Germaneau in 2010.

A trusted lieutenant of AQIM’s leader Abdelmalek Droukdel, Abou Zeid imposed a violent form of sharia law during Islamist domination of the ancient desert town of Timbuktu, including amputations and the destruction of ancient Sufi shrines.

“The death of Abou Zeid has been confirmed by several of his supporters who have come back from the mountains,” said Ibrahim Oumar Toure, a mechanic in the northern Malian town of Kidal who worked with Islamist rebels and remains in contact with them.

Members of the MNLA Tuareg rebel group, who have been acting as scouts for French and Chadian forces, said Islamist prisoners seized during the fighting confirmed Abou Zeid and another militant leader had been killed.

However, French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said she could neither confirm nor deny the report, and French officials urged caution. An official MNLA spokesman said the group had no evidence to prove he was dead.

French radio RFI and Algerian daily El Khabar reported that DNA tests were being conducted on members of Abou Zeid’s family to confirm whether a body recovered by French troops after fighting in Adrar des Ifoghas was indeed the Islamist leader.

HOLLANDE SAYS OPERATION NEARS END

In a speech on Friday, French President Francois Hollande said the operation in Mali was in its final stage and he was not obliged to confirm Abou Zeid’s death.

“Terrorist groups have taken refuge and are hiding in an especially difficult zone,” he said. “Information is out there. I don’t have to confirm it because we must reach the end of the operation.”

A U.S. official and a Western diplomat, however, said the reports appeared to be credible.

According to local sources in Kidal, MNLA Tuareg rebels, who are working with French forces, had located Abou Zeid’s fighters and handed over the coordinates for French jets to strike.

“They were hidden in mountain caves and were building bombs for suicide attacks when they were killed,” Toure said.

Abou Zeid’s death will be of particular interest to the French government as he is believed to be holding at least four French citizens kidnapped from Niger in 2010.

After its success in dislodging al Qaeda fighters from northern Mali’s towns, France and its African allies have faced a mounting wave of suicide bombings and guerrilla-style raids by Islamists in northern Malian towns.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in Geneva on Friday that a U.N. peacekeeping force to replace French troops in Mali should be discussed as soon as possible.