Black Boxes From Crashed Helicopters Found In Mali

French Defence Minister Florence Parly (C) walks with France’s chief of the Defence staff general Francois Lecointre (2ndL) as they arrive to take part in a tribute ceremony for the 13 French soldiers who died when two French military helicopters collided in Mali, two days ago are displayed prior to a tribute ceremony, on November 27, 2019, in Gao.
SIRPA / AFP

 

The black boxes from two French military helicopters that collided in Mali killing 13 soldiers have been found, a French military spokesman said Wednesday.

The crash occurred late Monday during an operation against jihadists in the Liptako region, near the borders with Burkina Faso and Niger. It was the heaviest single loss for the French military in nearly four decades.

“The two black boxes from the helicopters have been recovered, they will be handed over to the relevant authorities to be analysed,” the spokesman, Colonel Frederic Barbry, told BFMTV.

Three helicopters and a squadron of Mirage jets had arrived on Monday to support ground troops pursuing Islamist extremists.

Shortly after troops engaged the insurgents, who fled on motorbikes and in a pickup truck, a Tiger attack helicopter collided with a Cougar military transport helicopter.

All 13 aboard the two aircraft were killed.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly arrived along with top military brass at the Barkhane base in Gao on Wednesday afternoon to pay homage to the dead soldiers ahead of their repatriation to France.

The chief of staff of the French armed forces, General Francois Lecointre, and the army chief of staff, Thierry Burkhard, accompanied Parly on the trip.

Parly will address the soldiers at the base to convey “the nation’s sadness, recognition and determination”, the defence ministry said in a statement.

The minister was greeted by Barkhane Force commander General Pascal Facon and her Malian counterpart, General Dahirou Dembele.

The soldiers’ bodies will be repatriated to France where President Emmanuel Macron will lead commemorations at Invalides military hospital and museum in Paris on Monday.

Barbry said no theory as to the cause of the crash had been ruled out.

The conditions for flying at the time of the crash were “extremely difficult” because it was a moonless night, the spokesman said.

The accident brought to 41 the number of French troops killed in the Sahel region since Paris intervened against jihadists in northern Mali in 2013.

Since then, armed groups affiliated with the Islamic State group, Al-Qaeda and others have advanced into southern Mali as well as into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

No ‘definitive’ victory possible

Lecointre warned earlier Wednesday against expecting total victory over insurgents roaming an area the size of Western Europe.

“We will never achieve a definitive victory,” he told France Inter radio, while insisting that France’s intervention was “useful, good and necessary”.

“We are producing results but we must be patient and persevere,” he said, adding that a lasting solution to the unrest in the region required “military action but also action on the development front.”

France has 4,500 troops deployed under Operation Barkhane to help local forces hunt jihadists in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

It had been hoping that a joint counter-terrorism force set up by the five African countries would gradually take over the operations.

But the G5 Sahel force has been hamstrung by a lack of manpower, funds, training and weaponry.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali MINUSMA and regional armies, meanwhile, have also suffered heavy losses in the unrest.

In some of the deadliest incidents, 43 Malian soldiers were killed in an attack in the east of the country in mid-November while Burkina Faso lost 24 troops in an assault on a base near the Malian border in August.

Despite the challenges and the growing hostility towards French troops in Mali and Burkina Faso, both former colonies, Macron’s government is adamant it has no plans to scale back operations.

France has presented the battle against the jihadists operating on Europe’s doorstep as a battle for the security both of Africa and Europe.

Former president Francois Hollande, who took the decision to intervene in Mali in 2013, on Wednesday said he stood by his decision.

“If there had not been the operation which I launched on January 11, 2013, all of Mali would have been occupied by Islamist terrorists, and not just Mali. All of West Africa would have be destabilised,” he said.

24 Soldiers, 17 Insurgents Killed In Clashes In Eastern Mali

A file photo of Malian soldiers. AFP photo.

 

 

Twenty-four Malian soldiers and 17 jihadists fighters were killed in clashes in the east of the country, the army said, as security in the West African nation deteriorates further.

Mali and Niger forces were carrying out a joint operation when a patrol was attacked Monday by “terrorists” near the northeastern town of Tabankort, the army said on social media.

According to the military, the total toll was “24 dead, 29 injured and material damage” while 17 of the jihadists were killed and a hundred more suspects captured.

The prisoners are in the hands of Niger soldiers, the statement said.

In an earlier statement, which gave a lower death toll, the army said French and Niger forces took part in a counterattack.

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Monday’s action was another heavy loss for the army, which lost a hundred soldiers in two jihadist attacks in a month in the autumn.

Northern Mali fell into the hands of jihadists in 2012 before the militants were forced out by a French-led military intervention.

Since then, however, the border regions of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have become the theatre of repeated clashes with jihadist fighters.

Mali’s army has been struggling to contain the Islamist insurgency despite help from African neighbours, MINUSMA, the 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, and former colonial power in the region France.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in a visit to neighbouring Senegal on Monday called on all west African states to help tackle jihadist groups operating in the Sahel.

“One thing is certain: jihadist groups will benefit, as soon as they can, from our weaknesses, from our lack of coordination or from our lack of commitment or training,” said Philippe, at the opening of the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security.

French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to take decisions “in the coming weeks” on how France can help tackle jihadist violence in the Sahel.

He said progress had been made “on the security situation” and decisions would be announced on revamping the G5 regional cooperation force in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

France earlier this month also announced their troops had killed a top jihadist leader in Mali, described by the defence ministry as the second most-wanted terrorist in the Sahel.

Moroccan Ali Maychou belonged to the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) in Mali, which has claimed responsibility for some of the biggest attacks in the Sahel.

AFP

Bayelsa Election: Soldiers ‘Chased Away’ Key PDP Stakeholders, Diri Alleges

 

The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Duoye Diri, has faulted the outcome of the governorship election in Bayelsa State.

Diri, who addressed a news conference on Sunday, accused the Nigerian Army of intimidating agents and supporters of the PDP in Ogbia Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.

“The Nigerian Army is in Ogbia chasing away all PDP agents and all PDP key stakeholders from Ogbia, arresting most of our stakeholders; arresting all key stakeholders in Ogbia and as we speak, the Nigerian Army is there in Ogbia,” he told reporters while the collation of results from the eight LGAs in the state was ongoing at the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Yenagoa.

The PDP candidate added, “We want to use this opportunity to call on the soldiers who are in Ogbia to immediately withdraw from Ogbia Local Government Area.”

READ ALSO: INEC Declares APC’s David Lyon Winner Of Bayelsa Governorship Election

He alleged that some soldiers stormed the collation centre in Ogbia, stressing that such an action was unacceptable to his party.

PDP governorship candidate, Duoye Diri.

 

 

Diri also called on the electoral body to reject all the results from Ogbia LGA, claiming that they have been “doctored and tutored”.

“This is not the way our democracy will advance; this is not the way our democracy will progress,” he stressed.

The PDP candidate made the allegations hours before INEC returned the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr David Lyon, as the winner of the keenly contested election.

INEC’s Returning Officer and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin, Professor Faraday Orunmuwese, declared Lyon as the winner after scoring the highest number of votes in the poll.

The APC candidate polled a total of 352,552 votes to defeat his closest rival of the PDP who scored 143,172 votes.

See the table below:

S/N

LGA

APC

PDP

1

BRASS

23,831

10,410

2

EKEREMOR

21,489

18,344

3

KOLOKUMA/

OPOKUMA

8,934

15,360

4

NEMBE

83,041

874

5

OGBIA

58,016

13,763

6

SAGBAMA

7,831

60,339

7

SOUTHERN IJAW

124,803

4,898

8

YENAGOA

24,607

19,184

TOTAL

352,552

143,172

IED Kills Two Soldiers In Mali

 

Two Malian soldiers were killed and another six injured when their armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device, the army said Sunday.

“A vehicle of the Malian armed forces hit an improvised explosive device” near the central town of Bandiagara, the military said in a tweet.

It was the latest in a string of attacks underscoring the fragility of an area straddling several West African countries which is battling a surge in jihadist violence that has claimed hundreds of lives.

An attack on a military base on Friday left 49 Malian soldiers dead in the eastern Menaka region near the border with Niger.

On Saturday, a French soldier died in the same region after his armoured vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.

The Islamic State group on Saturday claimed responsibility for both attacks.

AFP

49 Soldiers Killed In Mali Attack

 

A “terrorist attack” on a military post in strife-torn northeastern Mali has left 49 soldiers dead, the army said Saturday, revising downward an earlier death toll.

The assault on Friday at Indelimane, in the Menaka region, close to the border with Niger, was one of the deadliest strikes against Mali’s military in a region wracked by Islamist violence.

The Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) “have recorded 49 dead, three wounded and material damage, and some 20 survivors have been recovered,” it said on its Facebook page on Saturday.

“The situation is under FAMa control.”

The government on Friday had said 53 people died in what it described as a “terrorist attack.”

No group immediately claimed responsibility.

An army officer said troops arrived at the outpost around 5pm on Friday and “took back control of our positions.

“The terrorists carried out a surprise attack at lunchtime. Army vehicles were destroyed, others taken away,” he told AFP.

The army and the government announced Friday that reinforcements were sent to the area.

The attacks comes a month after two jihadist assaults killed 40 soldiers near the border with Burkina Faso. However several sources said the death toll had been underestimated.

Mali’s army has been struggling in the face of a jihadist revolt that has spread from the arid north to its centre, an ethnically mixed and volatile region.

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

Northern Mali came under the control of Al-Qaeda linked jihadists after Mali’s army failed to quash a rebellion there in 2012.

A French-led military campaign was launched against the jihadists, pushing them back a year later.

But the jihadists have regrouped and widened their hit-and-run raids and landmine attacks to central and southern Mali.

The violence has also spilled over into Burkina Faso and Niger where extremists have exploited existing inter-communal strife, leaving hundreds dead.

Update: 35 Soldiers Killed On Attack In Mali Military Post

 

Thirty-five soldiers were killed Friday in a “terrorist attack” on a Mali military post in the northeast of the country, the army said.

“The provisional death toll has risen to 35 deaths,” it said on Facebook late Friday, adding that the situation is “under control”.

An investigation into the attack on the outpost in Indelimane in the Menaka region is ongoing, it said.

The attack came a month after two jihadist assaults killed 40 soldiers near the border with Burkina Faso, one of the deadliest strikes against Mali’s military in recent Islamist militant violence.

READ ALSO: Ten Killed In Mozambique Jihadist Attack – Witnesses

No group immediately claimed responsibility for Friday’s assault.

The Malian government earlier condemned the “terrorist attack,” saying it had left numerous dead or wounded but without giving a precise toll.

It said reinforcements had been rushed to the area to boost security and track down the attackers.

Northern Mali came under the control of Al-Qaeda linked jihadists after Mali’s army failed to quash a rebellion there in 2012. A French-led military campaign was launched against the jihadists, pushing them back a year later.

But the jihadists have regrouped and widened their hit-and-run raids and landmine attacks to central and southern Mali.

The violence has also spilt over into Burkina Faso and Niger where militants have exploited existing inter-communal strife.

AFP

15 Soldiers Killed After Attack On Mali Military Post – Army

 

Fifteen soldiers were killed Friday in a “terrorist attack” on a Mali military post in the northeast of the country, the army said.

The attack on the outpost in Indelimane in the Menaka region left 15 troops dead according to a provisional death toll, the army said on Twitter.

The attack came a month after two jihadist assaults killed 40 soldiers near the border with Burkina Faso, one of the deadliest strikes against Mali’s military in recent Islamist militant violence.

Friday’s attack resulted in “injuries and material damage” to the camp and reinforcements have been dispatched to the Indelimane area, according to the army.

Some Malian soldiers were also declared missing during the attack, a military source told AFP.

No group immediately claimed responsibility.

Northern Mali came under the control of Al-Qaeda linked jihadists after Mali’s army failed to quash a rebellion there in 2012. A French-led military campaign was launched against the jihadists, pushing them back a year later.

But the jihadists have regrouped and widened their hit-and-run raids and landmine attacks to central and southern Mali.

The violence has also spilled over into Burkina Faso and Niger where militants have exploited existing inter-communal strife.

Over 40 Police, Soldiers Abducted In Myanmar

Armed government troops cross a bomb damaged bridge outside the compound of the Gote Twin police station in Shan State on August 15, 2019/ AFP

 

Ethnic Rakhine rebels took more than 40 police officers and soldiers hostage in a brazen raid on a ferry on Saturday, Myanmar’s military said, the latest flare-up in the restive western region. 

The military has deployed thousands of troops to try to crush Arakan Army insurgents in the state, where the ethnic group is fighting for more autonomy for Rakhine Buddhists.

But the AA has inflicted a heavy toll through violent raids, kidnappings and improvised explosive devices.

On Saturday morning rebels in concealed positions on a river bank shot at a ferry carrying off-duty police and soldiers north from the state capital, forcing it to dock, military spokesperson Zaw Min Tun said.

“More than 10 soldiers from the army, about 30 police and two staff from the prison department” were among the more than 40 passengers forced to disembark before being taken away, he said.

Authorities were using helicopters in their pursuit of the rebels, and had spotted a large contingent crossing a river, he added.

The Arakan Army could not immediately be reached for comment.

The flare-up comes less than two weeks after suspected rebels disguised as a sports team stormed a bus and abducted dozens of firefighters and civilians in Rakhine.

Tens of thousands have been displaced in the state due to the fighting.

Rakhine is the same area where the military drove out more than 740,000 Rohingya Muslims in a 2017 campaign UN investigators have called genocide.

Rights groups have accused soldiers of committing war crimes including extrajudicial killings in its fresh campaign against the Arakan Army.

But monitors have also singled out the rebels for alleged abuses.

Both sides have rebuffed accusations as violence has continued in an area largely sealed off to independent media.

AFP

National Security: Nigerian Army Recruits 5,000 Soldiers

 

As part of its efforts to improve national security, the Nigerian Army has recruited 5,000 soldiers.

Speaking at the passing out ceremony of the new soldiers, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin, assured Nigerians that the military will not rest on its oars until the country is safe from the threats of Boko Haram terrorists, armed bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements.

He also gave an assurance that the security challenges the country is currently facing will soon be a thing of the past as the military is working hard to finally defeat the insurgents.

“Nigeria is currently facing numerous security challenges occasioned by activities of Boko Haram terrorists, armed bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements… but I wish to state that these security challenges will soon come to an end as we will not rest on our oars,” he said.

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“Today marks yet another chapter in the history of this great institution and the country in general.

“I am glad that depot Nigerian Army has continued to evolve innovative ways of improving the standard in the training of personnel for the Nigerian Army.

“These realistic and result oriented trainings that are being impacted in young recruits here have been yielding positive results and this has been evident by the robust fighting spirit displayed by our soldiers in various theatres of operations,” he added.

While congratulating the soldiers on the successful completion of the training, General Olonisakin urged them to uphold the values of loyalty, discipline and selfless service, adding that a lot is expected from them.

The event which took place at the Nigerian Army depot, Zaria in Kaduna State, saw a display of silent drills, unarmed combat and a special combat March by the recruits to prove their operational proficiency.

Mali Declares National Mourning After Jihadists Kill 25 Soldiers

A file photo of Malian President, Ibrahim Keita.

 

 

Malian troops backed by foreign allies on Wednesday launched a hunt for scores of soldiers 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 were killed in the raids, according to government figures, which began early Monday and were quelled more than a day later.

Around 60 soldiers were listed as missing — 78, according to a security source — but late Wednesday the Malian army said 11 had returned to their base.

It is unknown whether the others have been killed or captured.

“Operations to secure the area are underway 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.”

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita declared three days of national mourning would begin on Thursday, according to a government statement.

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.

The attacks were eventually subdued with the help of Malian special forces and foreign allies, including French warplanes and helicopters.

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

But French Defence Minister Florence Parly hailed the Malian army for quickly dispatching units to regain control of the camps.

“The determination of these units has helped restore a delicate and compromised situation and inflict losses on terrorists,” she said.

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 road mine 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.

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.

Army Dismisses Three Soldiers Over Alleged Kidnapping, Armed Robbery

New Salary Scale Has Not Been Approved For Armed Forces – DHQ
File photo

 

The Nigerian Army has dismissed three soldiers for their alleged involvement in kidnapping, armed robbery and cultism in Borno State.

Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, announced the dismissal on Sunday at the headquarters in Maimalari cantonment.

According to him, the three dismissed soldiers were arrested in a hotel in Maiduguri alongside 25 others, also alleged to be members of a notorious cult group terrorizing the state capital.

Adeniyi further explained that the arrest was made possible by a Joint Task Force including local hunters, the police, the NSCDC, DSS and the Army following a tip off.


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Also speaking on the matter, the state Commissioner of Police, Aliyu Ndatsu, said the Force has found the suspects guilty of criminal conspiracy and unlawful assembly.

Some of the items recovered from them include mobile sets, ID cards, calabashes, water pots containing red contents believed to be human blood and a sticker with an inscription that suggests a cult group affiliation.