89 Soldiers Killed As Terrorists Attack Niger Military Camp

 

A jihadist attack on a military camp in western Niger three days ago left 89 soldiers dead, according to a new toll announced by the government on public radio Sunday.

“After a thorough search, the toll has been established as 89 dead among friendly forces, and 77 dead for the enemy,” said spokesman Zakaria Abdourahame.

Three days of national mourning have been declared to honour the dead.

The previous toll given for Thursday’s attack on the Chinegodar camp was 25 soldiers killed.

Heavily armed assailants had stormed the military base in an area where dozens also died in a previous jihadist attack.

The raid near to the volatile frontier with Mali was carried out by attackers in vehicles and on motorbikes.

The attack happened in the same region Tillaberi, also bordering Burkina Faso, where 71 Niger soldiers were killed in a December attack, claimed by the Islamic State group, that saw hundreds of jihadists storm a camp near the border with Mali with artillery.

The latest attack is the deadliest on Niger’s military since Islamist extremist violence began to spill over from neighbouring Mali in 2015.

The December attack spurred leaders of the G5 Sahel nations to call for closer cooperation and international support in the battle against the Islamist threat.

Militant violence has spread across the vast Sahel region, especially in Burkina Faso and Niger, having started when armed Islamists revolted in northern Mali in 2012.

Thousands of civilians have also died and more than a million have been forced to flee their homes since the jihadist revolt began.

Analysts note an escalation in the jihadists’ operational tactics, which seem to have become bolder and more complex in recent months.

Ranged against them are the impoverished armies of Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, plus a 4,500-man French force in the Sahel and the 13,000-man UN force in Mali, MINUSMA.

The Sahel region of Africa lies to the south of the Sahara Desert and stretches across the breadth of the African continent.

AFP

Nigeria Can’t Win Terrorism War Without Tackling Poverty, Illiteracy – Atiku

A file photo of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

 

Former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has highlighted poverty and illiteracy as parts of the major challenges Nigeria must tackle urgently.

Following his repeated calls on the Federal Government to give special attention to the menace, Atiku believes this would go a long way in addressing the issue of insecurity and other problems bevelling the nation.

In his New Year message on Tuesday, the elder statesman observed that the rate of insecurity would reduce in the country if poverty was addressed, with a special focus on the war against insurgency in the North East.

“The problems of extreme poverty and scant investments in education play huge roles in fuelling the problems of violent extremism that we spent the past decade contending with.

“We cannot win the fight against terrorism if we do nothing to reduce or eliminate poverty and illiteracy.

“The reality of this new decade requires us to recalibrate our approaches and to pursue some tough choices. If failure is not an option, then we must let go of our egos and conveniences,” the PDP candidate said.

According to him, the New Year will require Nigerians to stay together more than ever before to take on, head front, the common enemy of insecurity.

Atiku said he does not share what he described as the sentiment that the outgone 2019 was a successful year for Nigerians.

He stated, “The bitter truth is that Nigeria is still in the throes of economic instability, with more people losing jobs and the attendant outcome of more children being out of school and more families having hard time in accessing basic needs of life.”

The former vice president, therefore, called on the Muhammadu Buhari administration to review its economic policies and improve the situation.

He also stressed the need for a deliberate effort to improve the material wellbeing of the people by lifting millions of Nigerians out of poverty into prosperity.

Terrorism Is Greatest Challenge Facing ECOWAS, Says Buhari

President Buhari with Togo President, Faure Gnassingbe, Burkina Faso President , Roch Marc Kabore, Guinea Conakry President, Alpha Conde and Gambia President, Adama Barrow during the 55th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS in Abuja on 21st Dec 2019. Credit: STATE HOUSE

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is confronted with the greatest challenge of terrorism.

Buhari made this known on Saturday during the 56th Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of state and Government in Abuja.

He also lamented the recent killing of about 70 military personnel by terrorists in neighbouring Niger Republic.

READ ALSO: President Buhari Joins Other African Leaders For ECOWAS Session Today

The Nigerian leader also reiterated his administration’s commitment in developing initiatives for inclusive economic growth among the people of the region.

Participants at the session included the President of the ECOWAS commission, Jean-claude Kassi Brou, the Chairman of the Authority and President of Niger Republic Issoufou Mahamadou.

Others were former Head of State Yakubu Gowon, President of the African Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina as well as the Representative of the United Nations’ Secretary General, Mohamed Ibn Chambas.

South African Court Dismisses Henry Okah’s Suit Challenging His Terrorism Conviction

 

A Pretoria High Court has dismissed with costs, Henry Okah’s application challenging his trial and conviction on 13 counts of terrorism-related activities.

The leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 24 years in jail for the 2010 bombings in Abuja and Warri which left about three people dead.

In his ruling, Judge Moses Mavundla noted that it is a common cause that the applicant has already taken his conviction on appeal to both the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court.

He agreed with the submission of the respondents that the general principle is that a convicted and sentenced person cannot appeal against it more than once.

RELATED: Henry Okah Challenges His Prosecution, Trial In South Africa

In his view, a decision contrary to that general principle will lead to a chaotic judicial situation.

On the challenge of jurisdiction, he noted that the applicant had pleaded not guilty and exercised his rights to silence.  As such, in the absence of a Lack of Jurisdiction plea, it is deemed that the court has jurisdiction.

Judge Mavundla ordered the applicant to pay the taxes and allowed costs for the first, second and third respondents, (The State, The Director of Public Prosecutions and the Minister of Police).

Mr Okah, who spoke to Channels Television, said he is fighting on.

In November 2017, Okah challenged the trial and conviction at the South African Constitutional Court, which he lost.

Justice Edwin Cameron ruled that the trial under the Anti-terrorism Act of South Africa was in line with the country’s international obligations.

Nigeria Is Experiencing Myriads Of Security Challenges, Says General Olonisakin

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin during the graduation ceremony of the Air Force War College Course 5 in Makurdi said Nigeria is currently facing myriads of security challenges.

 

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin says Nigeria is currently facing myriads of security challenges.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the Air Force War College Course 5 in Makurdi on Saturday, the CDS asked the forces to match manpower deployment to latest war equipment procured for effective combat operations.

Olonosakin who represented the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magaji (rtd) challenged the military to redouble efforts in the campaign against escalating acts of insurgency.

“Our beloved country is currently experiencing a myriad of security challenges including act of terrorism in the northeast, pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft in the south south and random acts of kidnapping in many parts of the country.

“These challenges have had severe consequences on the human and material resources of the nation. This makes military involvement in the internal security operations in our country inevitable,” he stated.

READ ALSO: Buhari Sad After ‘Alleged Execution’ Of Four Aid Workers

On the ongoing war against terrorism, the defence chief commended the Nigerian Air Force Air for its capabilities which he said has boosted the military operations in the northeast.

Similarly, the Chief Of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said the training of troops from the Air War collage in Benue State capital has improved the air capabilities of troops in neutralising insurgents.

37 Killed In Burkina Faso’s Deadliest Attack In Five Years

FILES) In this file photo taken on March 02, 2019 Burkinabe soldiers take part in a ceremony in Ouagadougou. Burkina Faso’s security forces are overwhelmed by the flare-up of attacks carried out almost every day by jihadist groups. ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

 

An ambush on a convoy transporting employees of a Canadian mining company in Burkina Faso killed 37 people on Wednesday, the deadliest attack in nearly five years of jihadist violence in the West African country.

The impoverished and politically fragile Sahel country has been struggling to quell a rising jihadist revolt that has claimed hundreds of lives since early 2015.

On Wednesday morning “unidentified armed individuals” ambushed five buses carrying local employees, contractors and suppliers of the Samafo mining company, said Saidou Sanou, the governor of the country’s Est Region.

As well as the 37 civilians killed, 60 were wounded, he said.

Mine owner Semafo Inc. said the five buses escorted by the military were approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Boungou gold mine in the Tapoa province when they were ambushed.

A security source said “a military vehicle that was escorting the convoy hit an explosive device”.

“Two buses carrying workers were then fired upon,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Burkina Faso’s government said the gunmen had conducted a “complex attack”, adding that defence and security forces had launched a relief operation and were searching the area.

READ ALSO: Two Killed As Clashes Erupt At Guinea Funeral March

It was the third deadly attack on Canadian firm Semafo, which operates two mines in Burkina Faso, in 15 months.

“We are actively working with all levels of authorities to ensure the ongoing safety and security of our employees, contractors and suppliers,” Semafo said in a statement, offering condolences to the families of the victims.

The mine itself, it added, remains secure and its operations had not been affected.

Two separate attacks on convoys carrying Boungou mine employees in August and December last year killed 11 people.

The company blamed “armed bandits” for last year’s attacks, and subsequently reinforced its armed escorts.

The Burkina Faso government this year asked mining companies to make their own arrangements to transport their employees, according to sources close to the miners.

Nearly 700 dead in five years

Burkina Faso’s northern provinces have been battling a nearly five-year wave of jihadist violence that came from neighbouring Mali.

The attacks — typically hit-and-run raids on villages, road mines and suicide bombings — have claimed nearly 700 lives across the country since early 2015, according to an AFP toll.

Almost 500,000 people have also been forced to flee their homes.

The attacks have been claimed by a range of jihadist groups, including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The country’s badly equipped, poorly trained and underfunded security forces have been unable to stem the violence, which has intensified throughout 2019 to become almost daily.

The Sahel region, including Burkina Faso’s neighbours Mali and Niger, has been afflicted by the violence despite the presence of the regional G5 Sahel force as well as French and US troops.

Burkina Faso’s previous deadliest attack was in January 2016, when jihadists raided the Splendid Hotel and a cafe in the capital Ouagadougou, killing 30 people, around half of them foreign nationals.

In August this year, the army suffered its worst attack with 24 soldiers killed in an assault on a base in Koutougou, near the Mali border.

On Monday, an attack on a base in northern Burkina Faso killed at least five gendarmes and five civilians.

Macron Vows To Fight Terrorism After Police Killings

 

French President Emmanuel Macron Tuesday vowed an “unrelenting fight” against Islamist extremists at a memorial ceremony for four Paris police staff stabbed to death last week by a colleague who had converted to a radical version of Islam.

Mickael Harpon, a 45-year-old computer expert in the police intelligence-gathering department, used a kitchen knife and an oyster shucker to kill one female and three male colleagues in a 30-minute rampage that ended when an officer shot him dead.

“We will wage an unrelenting fight in the face of Islamist terrorism,” Macron said at the ceremony at police headquarters, where the attack took place.

The killings in the police’s inner sanctum have shocked France, where the government is being pressed to explain how Harpon’s radicalisation had failed to raise red flags.

Macron said it was “inconceivable and unacceptable” that Harpon, who had worked for the police since 2003, had managed to carry out an attack “in the very place where we pursue terrorists and criminals”.

He blamed the attack on “a distorted, deadly Islam” which he vowed to “eradicate” and to build in France a “society in a state of vigilance”.

He called on all of France to unify and act in order to overcome what he termed the “Islamist hydra”, referring to a multi-headed serpent of Greek mythology.

But he also warned against lapsing into a climate of permanent suspicion, emphasising: “This is not a fight against a religion but against the distortion of it which leads to terrorism.”

Thursday’s bloodshed — the first deadly attack in France in 10 months — brought to 255 the number of people killed in a string of assaults blamed on, or claimed by Islamist radicals, mainly the Islamic State group, since 2015.

The security forces have regularly been targeted.

In one of the grisliest attacks, a police couple were stabbed to death in front of their three-year-old son at their home near Paris by a man claiming allegiance to IS, who broadcast the attack live on Facebook.

 Propaganda videos 

Harpon, a father of two, had converted to Islam about 10 years ago and adopted increasingly radical beliefs.

He had been in close contact with a hardline Salafist imam in the months before his rampage last week, according to investigators.

His wife was released from custody on Sunday after three days of questioning.

Le Parisien newspaper reported Tuesday that a USB key containing details on dozens of his police colleagues had been found among his possessions.

The paper, citing sources close to the inquiry, said it was not clear if Harpon had gathered the data as part of his job or had surreptitiously extracted it, nor whether he had shared it with others.

The key also contained several IS propaganda videos, it added.

Police told BFM TV that 160 investigators have been dedicated to combing through data captured on Harpon’s computers.

The four victims of the attack — Damien Ernest, Anthony Lancelot, Aurelia Trifiro and Brice Le Mescam — were on Tuesday posthumously awarded the Legion of Honour, France’s highest military and civilian award.

Ernest, a father of two with 28 years of service, had been planning to get married to his long-time partner, Macron said.

The coffins of the four, which were draped in French flags, were borne into the courtyard of the building by fellow officers.

 Interior minister under fire 

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has faced opposition calls for his resignation after initially claiming that Harpon never gave the “slightest reason for alarm” before going on the rampage.

On Tuesday, the minister appeared before a parliamentary committee, where he conceded there had been a “malfunction” in not reporting signals of Harpon’s seeming radicalisation.

He will also be questioned by a Senate panel on Thursday as to why Harpon, who told colleagues that the 12 people killed in the 2015 massacre at the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper “deserved it”, did not set off alarm bells.

Parliament speaker Richard Ferrand on Tuesday announced a commission of inquiry into the attack.

And the interior ministry has set up a dedicated cell to track potential Islamist radicals within the ranks of the security forces.

Le Parisien reported Tuesday that 19 interior ministry employees were under surveillance.

AFP

Norway Mosque Shooting Being Probed As ‘Act Of Terror’ – Police

Police vehicles near the al-Noor Islamic centre mosque where a gunman, armed with multiple weapons, went on a shooting spree in the town of Baerum, an Oslo suburb on August 10, 2019. 
Terje Pedersen / NTB Scanpix / AFP

 

The shooting at a mosque near Oslo is being treated as an “attempted act of terror”, Norwegian police said on Sunday, with the suspect appearing to harbour far-right, anti-immigrant views.

“We are looking at an attempted act of terror,” acting chief of the police operation Rune Skjold told a press conference after Saturday’s incident left one man injured.

Skjold said the investigation had shown that the man appeared to hold “far-right” and “anti-immigrant” views.

The suspect, armed with multiple weapons, opened fire in the mosque in Baerum, a suburb of Oslo, on Saturday afternoon, before being overpowered by a man who suffered “minor injuries” in the process.

Norway was the scene of one of the worst-ever attacks by a right-wing extremist in July 2011, when 77 people were killed by Anders Behring Breivik.

Hours after the attack on Saturday, the body of a young woman related to the suspect was found in a home also in Baerum.

Investigators are treating her death as suspicious and have opened a murder probe.

Police said earlier on Sunday they had tried to question the suspect, described as a “young man” with a “Norwegian background” who was living in the vicinity but he did not want to “give an explanation to police”.

The man had been known to police before the incident but according to Skjold he could not be described as someone with a “criminal background”.

READ ALSO: One Hurt In Norway Mosque Shooting, Suspect Arrested

On Saturday, Norwegian media reported that the suspect was believed to have put up a post to an online forum hours before the attack where he seemingly praised the assailant in the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March when 51 people were killed.

The suspect in the Christchurch killings wrote a hate-filled manifesto in which he said he was influenced by far-right ideologues including Breivik.

Breivik detonated a massive bomb in Oslo that killed eight people and then opened fire on a gathering of the Labour Party’s youth wing on the island of Utoya, killing another 69 people, most of them teenagers.

Local Norwegian paper Budstikka said it had contacted the mosque in Baerum in March after the Christchurch massacre and that officials there had said security would be tightened.

AFP

No Part Of Nigeria Will Be Occupied By Criminal Elements, Buratai Vows

SERAP, EiE, BudgIT Ask Buratai To Account For Money Spent Fighting Boko Haram, Others
Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai

 

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has vowed not to allow criminal elements occupy any part of Nigeria.

Buratai, who was speaking at the 61st passing out parade of the Nigerian Military School, Zaria in Kaduna State, reiterated his commitment to combat all security challenges confronting the nation.

Represented by the Chief of Policy and Planning, Lieutenant General Lamidi Adeosun, Buratai said that the army in collaboration with other security agencies, is doing everything possible to tame the resurgence of the Boko Haram, kidnapping, Armed banditry and other related crimes across the country.

“I will like to reassure you all that the Nigerian army is committed to the unity and security of this country and will do everything humanly possible to ensure that no part of this country is occupied by criminal elements.

“We will continue to support the civil authorities by ensuring that our country men and women are safe and protected in the course of their legitimate activities,” he stated.

According to the Army chief, the Federal Government is concerned with the security challenges in parts of the country.

He however noted that the military is winning the war against terrorism by stabilising the north-eastern region.

One of the achievements recorded in the military operations in the northeast, he stated, is the improvement of economic activities in the affected area.

READ ALSO: ‘RevolutionNow’: Police Vow To Resist ‘Forceful Change Of Government’

“The Nigerian Army in collaboration with other sister services and security agencies has been able to stabilise the situation, especially in the north-eastern part of Nigeria.

“Consequently, economic activities of the affected areas are gradually improving as the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are voluntarily returning to their ancestral homes with farmers going back to their farmlands,” he stated.

While appreciating the efforts of soldiers in the ongoing military operations in the fight against terrorism, the COAS admonished the new grandaunds to be loyal to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Nigerian Army Trains 259 Officers On Counter-Terrorism Operations

 

The Nigerian Army has trained a fresh set of 259 officers on counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations for onward deployment to the northeast and other troubled parts of the country.

During the six-month training, they were exposed to academic and field exercises such as tactical combat shooting, unarmed combat and water exercises, stop and search techniques on roadblocks and checkpoints, rescue missions, identification of Improvised Explosive Devices among other things.

At their passing out ceremony at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Jaji, Kaduna State, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin, said the new officers are joining the force at a critical time when the military is doing everything possible to tackle the security challenges in the country.

He, therefore, stated that much is expected from them in terms of keeping the country together and tackling the rising security challenges especially by Boko Haram insurgents, among others.

UN Calls For Stronger ‘Global Response’ To Terrorism, Organized Crime

 

The UN Security Council called Friday for a better-coordinated “global response” to international terrorism and organized crime by working together to identify and eliminate such threats.

The council unanimously adopted the Peru-drafted resolution, which calls for increased cross-border collaboration in efforts to investigate and dismantle the links between terrorist groups and organized crime networks.

The resolution asks states to “enhance coordination of efforts at all levels in order to strengthen a global response to linkages between international terrorism and organized crime, whether domestic or transnational.”

The nature and scope of such linkages could be better understood by combining research, the resolution explained, adding that states should “accelerate the timely exchange of relevant operational information and financial intelligence” regarding terrorist networks’ actions.

Additionally, financial intelligence could help states better understand the “nature and scope” of potential links between terrorism and organized crime.

READ ALSO: One Dead, 14 Wounded In Clash Near DR Congo Gorilla Sanctuary

The resolution also called for states to “investigate, disrupt and dismantle organized crime networks” in accordance with national legislation regarding money laundering, corruption and bribery in addition to terrorism.

While speaking, Russia urged its allies in the Security Council not to politicize the question of links between organized crime and terrorism, though without specifying why.

The country emphasized that the work must continue after the resolution’s first steps had been taken.

This is not the Council’s first attempt at cracking down on international terrorism. In March, it ordered countries worldwide to step up the fight against terrorism financing by ensuring they have laws that make it a serious crime to fund terrorist acts.

AFP

US Offers $7m To Find Hezbollah Agent Wanted For Argentina Attack

In this file photo taken on July 18, 1994, a man walks over the rubble left after a bomb exploded at the Argentinian Israeli Mutual Association in Buenos Aires. ALI BURAFI / AFP

 

The United States on Friday offered a $7 million reward to find a Hezbollah operative accused of masterminding a deadly 1994 attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, as it vowed to pursue the group worldwide.

The United States also imposed sanctions on the senior Hezbollah figure, Salman Raouf Salman, in tandem with his blacklisting by Argentina as it marks the 25th anniversary of the bombing, which killed 85 people.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was visiting Argentina on the anniversary of the attack, along with ministers from several Latin American nations visiting Buenos Aires for talks on counter-terrorism.

The State Department said it would give $7 million to anyone who provides information that leads to the location of Salman, also known as Salman al-Reda.

The Treasury Department said that Salman masterminded the 1994 attack and “has directed terrorist operations in the Western Hemisphere for Hezbollah ever since.”

“This administration will continue to target Hezbollah terrorists who plot horrific murderous operations and indiscriminately kill innocent civilians on behalf of this violent group and its Iranian patrons,” said Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

READ ALSO: Qaeda Attack In Yemen Kills Five Soldiers

Iran is the primary sponsor of Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim militant movement as well as political party that waged a guerrilla campaign against Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon.

Salman has been reported to have joint Lebanese and Colombian citizenship, allowing him to move more easily across Latin America.

Asked where he is believed to be now, a senior administration official said: “We think he is probably somewhere in the Middle East.”

The Treasury designation will freeze any assets he may have in the United States and criminalize any assistance to him, although Hezbollah as a whole is already under heavy US sanctions.

A State Department official said that the United States has been encouraging Latin American nations to follow the US model in blacklisting groups and individuals as terrorists — as seen in Argentina’s decision on Salman.