Four civilians including a child were shot dead on Tuesday as suspected Al-Shabaab Islamists attempted to attack a telecommunications mast in eastern Kenya near the Somali border, police said.
Two of the attackers were also killed by police.
Kenya is on high alert after the Al-Qaeda linked group on Sunday stormed onto a US military base in the coastal Lamu region, destroying several aircraft and killing three American citizens.
Three Kenyans were arrested later Sunday for allegedly trying to force their way into a British military camp in central Kenya, although the British army later said in a statement they did not believe there was a “direct threat”.
Police spokesman Charles Owino said that more than 10 attackers had attempted to destroy the mast on Tuesday morning, two of whom were shot dead.
A separate police statement said the attack took place in the town of Saretho, 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the Dadaab Refugee Camp — where Al-Shabaab has been found to be operating in the past.
“The criminal gang had targeted the nearby communication mast and in the process four innocent lives were lost, including that of a teacher and small child,” read the statement.
Police said two AK47 assault rifles, materials to make improvised explosive devices and other “crude weapons” were discovered.
“Security agencies have been mobilised and are pursuing the rest of the attackers.”
The Islamists began targeting Kenya after it sent troops into Somalia in 2011 to join an African Union peacekeeping force seeking to combat the militants who have been trying to topple an internationally-backed government in Mogadishu for over a decade.
Al-Shabaab has in the past carried out bloody sieges against civilians in Kenya, such as the upmarket Westgate Mall in 2013 and Garissa University in 2015.
The uptick in tensions comes just days before the one-year anniversary of an attack on a Nairobi hotel complex which left 21 people dead.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says it has killed scores of Boko Haram terrorists in airstrikes in the Sambisa Forest area of Borno State.
NAF’s Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, disclosed this in a statement forwarded to Channels Television on Saturday.
He noted that the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation Lafiya Dole recorded the success near Bula Bello on January 1, 2020.
Daramola explained that a NAF Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft was returning from a mission before the onslaught.
He said the jet spotted a gun truck of the insurgents under a tree with scores of Boko Haram fighters gathered around the tree on the outskirts of the settlement, purportedly preparing for an attack against nearby troops’ positions.
According to the air commodore, some of the insurgents were also seen in a declassified short video clip pushing another vehicle to a location under another tree in the area.
He revealed that the ATF subsequently scrambled its attack aircraft to engage the location, neutralising some of the terrorists in the process.
“Follow-on attacks were also carried out to take out some locations within Bula Bello where the BHTs were tracked to.
“The jets took turns attacking the target area killing more of the BHTs and destroying some of their structures,” the statement said.
The NAF spokesman stressed that the air force would sustain its efforts to completely destroy all remnants of the terrorists in the North East, working in concert with surface forces.
The United States military said it killed four “terrorists” in airstrikes against the Al-Shabaab militant group in Somalia on Sunday, a day after the country’s deadliest attack in two years.
US Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted three airstrikes in two locations in the conflict-hit east African nation on Sunday targeting Al-Shabaab militants, it said in a statement.
“These precision airstrikes targeted Al-Shabaab militants responsible for terrorist acts against innocent Somali citizens and coordinating with Al-Qaeda,” AFRICOM said.
“The US and the federal government of Somalia will continue to increase pressure on the terrorist organisation in order to deny them the ability to plot terrorist attacks.”
Sunday’s strikes killed two militants and destroyed two vehicles in Qunyo Barrow while a separate strike killed another two in Caliyoow Barrow, according to AFRICOM, which regularly carries out airstrikes in Somalia.
They followed a massive car bomb explosion in a busy area of Mogadishu on Saturday that left at least 79 people dead and scores injured.
At least 16 of those killed were students from the capital’s private Banadir University, who had been traveling on a bus when the car bomb detonated at a busy intersection southwest of the Somali capital.
Scores of wounded were carried on stretchers from the site, where the force of the explosion left the charred and twisted remains of vehicles.
Two Turkish nationals were also killed, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
The attack has not been claimed, but Mogadishu is regularly hit by car bombings and attacks waged by the Al-Shabaab Islamist militants, who have fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.
– Guerrilla war –
The militant group emerged from the Islamic Courts Union, which once controlled central and southern Somalia, and is variously estimated to number between 5,000 and 9,000 men.
In 2010, the Shabaab declared their allegiance to Al-Qaeda.
The following year, its fighters fled positions they once held in the capital Mogadishu, and have since lost many strongholds.
But they retain control of large rural swathes of the country and continue to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities, managing to inflict bloody death tolls in attacks at home and abroad.
“Since Al-Shabaab’s first external attack in 2010, the group has ruthlessly killed hundreds,” said US Army Major General William Gayler, AFRICOM’s director of operations.
“They have attacked and killed African partners, allies, and fellow Americans.”
Since 2015, there have been 13 attacks in Somalia with death tolls above 20. Eleven of these have been in Mogadishu, according to a tally of AFP figures.
All of them involved car bombs.
The deadliest attack in the country’s history was a truck bombing in October 2017 in Mogadishu which left 512 people dead and around 295 injured.
US strikes in Somalia surged after President Donald Trump declared the south of the country an “area of active hostilities.”
The rate of airstrikes has risen sharply this year, and in an April statement, AFRICOM said it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.
AFRICOM, which has been accused by Amnesty International of killing several civilians in its airstrikes, said no civilians appeared to have been killed or wounded in its Sunday strike.
President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to Nigerians not to let terrorists divide the country along religious lines, following the execution of some Christians and Muslims by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
President Buhari said: “I am profoundly saddened and shocked by the death of innocent hostages in the hands of remorseless, godless, callous gangs of mass murderers that have given Islam a bad name through their atrocities
“We should, under no circumstance, let the terrorists divide us by turning Christians against Muslims because these barbaric killers don’t represent Islam and millions of other law-abiding Muslims around the world.
“As a President, the collective security of all Nigerians is my major preoccupation and the death of an innocent Christian or Muslim distresses me.’’
The President said the terrorists have no clearly defined agenda except the pursuit of evil through indiscriminate murder of innocent people, contrary to the teachings of Islam, which prohibits massacre.
“No true Muslim would be shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ while killing innocent people, an evil frequently condemned by the Holy Qur’an.’’
“These agents of darkness are enemies of our common humanity and they don’t spare any victim, whether they are Muslims or Christians, and therefore, we shouldn’t let them divide us and turn us against one another.
“The goal of these psychopaths is to cause confusion and spread distrust between Muslims and Christians, despite the fact that they aren’t representing the interest of Muslims or Islam.
“While I condemn this evil, I wish to reassure Nigerians that this administration will not lower its guards in the war against terrorism, and we will continue to intensify our efforts towards strengthening international cooperation and collaboration to break the backbone of these evildoers,’’ the President added.
President Buhari called on all Nigerians to be united against terrorists and avoid unhelpful conspiracy theories that serve the interest of Boko Haram terrorists and ISWAP.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Air Task Force for Operation Lafiya Dole says it has neutralised scores of Boko Haram Terrorists and destroyed some of their structures in massive airstrikes conducted on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, at Kokiwa and Bula Korege on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State.
According to the Director Airforce Public Relations, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, the airstrikes were conducted in continuation of Operation Rattle Snake based on credible Human Intelligence reports which were also corroborated by series of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
Daramola noted that the reports disclosed that the Boko Haram terrorists had intensified activities in the targeted settlements with a view to launching attacks against own troops’ locations in the area.
Consequently, the air taskforce detailed its fighter jets and helicopter gunships to attack the two locations.
The combat aircraft took turns to attack targets at both locations, scoring crucial hits on the hideouts which then led to the neutralisation of the insurgents.
The Nigeria Air Force (NAF) says it has destroyed an Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists’ hideout at Arrinna Ciki on the fringes of the Lake Chad in the Northern part of Borno State.
NAF’s Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, disclosed in a statement on Tuesday that the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation Lafiya Dole also killed some ISWAP fighters during the bombardment.
“This was accomplished through air strikes conducted on 1 and 2 November 2019, sequel to intelligence reports indicating that the terrorists were using the settlement as a staging area to launch attacks against own forces,” he said.
Daramola explained that the airstrike on November 1 was initiated when a NAF Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform, on a confirmatory reconnaissance mission, spotted some ISWAP vehicles under some trees in the area.
Accordingly, the ATF scrambled its fighter jets to attack the location, recording successful strikes to immobilise the vehicles.
The NAF spokesman revealed that a follow-up attack was executed the next day after significant activity was observed in another part of the settlement.
This, according to him, occasioned the detailing of attack aircraft to engage the identified areas, resulting in the destruction of some terrorists’ structures and the killing of some of their fighters.
“The NAF, operating in concert with surface forces, will sustain its efforts to completely destroy all remnants of the terrorists in the North-East,” the air commodore stated.
Four people were killed in northern Mozambique, witnesses said Sunday, in an attack they attributed to Islamic extremists operating in the region for the last two years.
The attackers staged the ambush on a lorry near the village of Mumu, in the province of Cabo Delgado, on Saturday, killing the driver and three passengers, said several witnesses contacted by AFP.
Several other people were injured in the attack.
The authorities, who rarely make statements on the unrest in the north of the country, neither confirmed nor denied the attack.
Villagers say a separate attack in the same region Thursday killed 10 people.
Since 2017 Cabo Delgado has suffered a wave of deadly attacks that has killed at least 300 civilians and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.
The violence has been blamed on a jihadist organisation apparently intent on imposing Islamic Sharia law. The group is 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 to counter the attacks, which have delayed the development of vast gas reserves discovered in 2010.
Suspected jihadists staged twin attacks Monday on two Malian military posts near the border with Burkina Faso, killing two civilians and burning 22 vehicles, local officials and the army said.
The camps at Mondoro and Boulkessy in central Mali “were attacked this morning… by terrorists”, the Malian armed forces said in a tweet.
“Armed jihadists came at night to Mondoro. They went to the command post of the camp… and fired. The army withdrew. The jihadists’ fire killed two civilians and wounded three,” a local official said.
“The assailants made off with two vans filled with ammunition, two camels and 12 cows,” the official added.
The other camp at Boulkessy — run by the Malian army and G5 Sahel, a five-nation joint taskforce created in 2014 to try to tackle jihadist violence in the region — was attacked by suspected members of the Ansarul Islam outfit, the G5 said in a statement.
They came on “several vehicles loaded with heavy arms and on motorbikes,” it said, without giving any casualty figures.
The attackers burnt 22 vehicles, nearly half of the automatic weapons in the camp and a large cache of ammunition, a military source said.
Northern Mali fell into the hands of jihadists in 2012 before the militants were forced out by a French-led military intervention.
But much of the region remains chronically unstable and jihadist-led violence has spread to the centre of the country, often sparking bloodshed between ethnic groups.
In addition to its own armed forces, the fragile country hosts France’s mission in the Sahel, UN peacekeeping troops as well as contingents from a five-nation anti-jihadist group.
Neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger have also been infiltrated by insurgents, at the cost of hundreds of lives.
The Nigerian Army says it has repelled a terrorist attack on two communities (Gubio and Magumeri) in Borno State.
According to a statement by the Deputy Director Army Public Relations, 7 Division, Ado Isa (Colonel), the terrorists had targeted the army who were deployed to the areas to enable them gain access to shops in the market so that they could loot food and other items.
The attack was, however, repelled by the troops and the terrorists were forced to withdraw from the town following a fierce gun battle.
In the process, some buildings and property were destroyed, while a vigilante lost his life.
China reacted furiously Wednesday to “terrorist-like” attacks on its citizens by pro-democracy protesters during the second day of mass disruptions at Hong Kong’s airport that turned violent.
The rallies, which had paralysed one of the world’s busiest travel hubs, ended with ugly clashes on Tuesday night that included protesters beating two men.
The Chinese government immediately seized on the attacks to louden its drumbeat of anger and intimidation against the protesters, who have staged 10 weeks of relentless rallies to demand greater freedoms.
“We express the strongest condemnation of these terrorist-like actions,” said Xu Luying, a spokeswoman at the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs of the State Council, who called the two men who were beaten “mainland China compatriots.”
It was the second time this week that China had sought to frame the protests as “terrorism”, part of a pattern of increasingly ominous warnings that have raised fears it may deploy force to quell the unrest.
China on Monday said there were signs of “terrorism emerging”, as state media published a video of armoured personnel carriers driving towards the border with Hong Kong.
US President Donald Trump added to fears Beijing may stage a military intervention to end the unrest, saying on Tuesday his intelligence had confirmed Chinese troop movements toward the Hong Kong border.
“I hope it works out for everybody including China. I hope it works out peacefully, nobody gets hurt, nobody gets killed,” Trump said.
The people power movement, which has seen millions take to Hong Kong’s streets, was sparked by opposition to a planned law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.
It quickly evolved into a much broader campaign for democratic freedoms.
Under a 1997 deal that saw Hong Kong return to China from British colonial rule, the city is meant to have far greater liberties than those allowed on the mainland.
The protesters, who are demanding that China’s rulers stop interfering in the city, have enjoyed widespread support throughout most sectors of Hong Kong’s society.
But the beating of the two men at the airport on Tuesday, as well as the blocking of passengers from boarding flights, could backfire in terms of maintaining support.
The movement has no public leaders, with protests organised anonymously over social media and chat apps.
One group, which has organised anonymous press conferences featuring protesters, sought Tuesday to address the concerns that the rallies at the airport had gone too far.
“After months of prolonged resistance, we are frightened, angry and exhausted. Some of us have become easily agitated and over-reacted last night,” the group said in a statement.
“For this we feel pained and dispirited and would like to express our most sincere apologies.”
Demonstrators turned on the two men, fuelled by suspicions within their ranks about undercover police or spies.
The first man was held for about two hours and assaulted before eventually being led away in an ambulance.
Riot police briefly deployed pepper spray and batons to beat back protesters while they escorted the vehicle away from the departures hall.
Another man, wearing a yellow journalist vest, was surrounded, zip-tied and then beaten by a small group who accused him of being a spy.
In a tweet, Hu Xijun, the editor of China’s state-controlled Global Times tabloid — which has vociferously condemned the protests — said the man was a journalist for the paper.
In another ugly scene, a group of protesters ganged up on a policeman and beat him. They stopped their attack when the policeman pulled his gun and pointed it at them, but did not fire.
On Wednesday there were only a handful of protesters at the airport and many flights were operating as scheduled.
Around a hundred demonstrators later gathered in the city’s working-class Sham Shui Po neighbourhood, shining lasers at a police station. Officers fired rounds of tear gas to disperse them.
As Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific comes under huge pressure from Beijing to clamp down on staff supportive of anti-government rallies, the airline said Wednesday it had sacked two pilots.
“One is currently involved in legal proceedings. The other misused company information on Flight CX216/12 August,” it said.
The airline said last week it had suspended a pilot accused of rioting after allegedly participating in protests.
It also said it had fired two ground staff, without specifying why, although local media reported that they were accused of leaking travel details of a Hong Kong police football team.
The city’s leader, Carrie Lam, warned Tuesday of dangerous consequences if escalating violence was not curbed and said the hub was being “pushed into an abyss.”
Troops of Operations Thunder Strike and Harbin Kunama III of the One Division of the Nigerian Army have killed five suspected armed bandits and arrested four others during an operation in Kaduna state.
The suspected armed bandits were killed by the troops during two separate operations in Chikun Local Government Area of the state.
A statement issued on Sunday by the spokesman of One Division, Colonel Ezindu Idima says two kidnap victims were rescued during the operation.
He also disclosed that a camp belonging to the bandits was also destroyed during another operation at Dagu Village in Igabi local government area, following credible intelligence information.
The Army spokesman further disclosed many dangerous weapons including one AK47 rifle, a single barrel rifle, one Dane gun and 28 rounds of special ammunition, two motorcycles, one camouflage uniform, two ATM cards, a Techno Phone, one Airtel Sim card and empty cases of 5 x 7.62mm special ammunitions were recovered from bandits.
He, however, appeals to the public to report anybody found with gunshot wounds to the nearest security post for investigation.
The statement read in part: “Troops of Operation Harbin Kunama III dislodged a bandits camp in Dagu village of Igabi local government on 24th July 2019 following credible information and during the operation, two bandits were neutralised and one was apprehended while others escaped with gunshot wounds.
“Troops also, rescued two kidnapped victims, Mallam Yakubu Hamidu and Alhaji Isa Saidu from the bandit’s den around Makarfi Farm junction in Igabi LGAsl on 25th July 2019 where two motorcycles belonging to the criminals were also destroyed during an exchange of fire.
“Following the operation, three bandits were neutralised, three were arrested and two kidnapped victims were also freed”.