Friday 15 December 2017
(AFP (eng) 10/26/17)
The Nigerian military on Wednesday said it was investigating reports that a recent bombing raid killed one of the wives of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. Fighter jets attacked what was said to be "a large gathering of Boko Haram terrorists" at the Durwawa settlement, near Urga in the Konduga area of Borno state on October 19. The bombing killed jihadists on the ground and triggered a fire, air force spokesman Air Commodore Olatokunbo Adesanya said in an emailed statement. "Efforts are ongoing to confirm the reported killing of Shekau's wife, alongside other BHTs (Boko Haram terrorists)," he added.
(AFP (eng) 10/26/17)
Five nations in Africa's Sahel region are progressively deploying a counter-terror force to combat jihadist groups but the project will be vulnerable during its fledgling stage, diplomats and military sources say. The so-called "G5 Sahel" states are some of the world's poorest and least developed nations, comprising Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Spread across largely tough, desert terrain, the G5's counter-terror force will launch its first operation against jihadists at the end of October, codenamed "Buffalo" in a local language according to official documents seen by AFP, with several more planned. At the new force's military headquarters in Sevare, central Mali, Commander Didier Dacko is highly aware of vulnerabilities linked to incomplete troop numbers and a funding gap...
(The Associated Press 10/25/17)
The U.S. special forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn’t call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general says, conceding many questions linger about the assault that killed four American troops and triggered a political brawl. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters the American people and the fallen soldiers’ families deserve answers about the deadly ambush in the West African nation. But Dunford said Monday that he still lacks many details about how the attack unfolded. At a Pentagon news conference, Dunford asked for patience as the military continues to investigate the incident. Dunford’s description of the assault, however, underscored how long...
(The Associated Press 10/25/17)
The Latest on the four service members killed in Niger (all times local): 8:15 a.m. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says an examination of U.S. military involvement around the world needs to be a part of the discussion around this month’s fatal ambush of four U.S. soldiers in Niger. Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee tells NBC’s “Today” that what happened in Niger will launch a bigger debate that was already under way. Corker says his committee will hold hearings on the matter. He adds that it may be time for Congress to update the rules for U.S. military engagement with terrorists across the globe. Corker notes that U.S. soldiers are operating under rules first put in...
(AFP (eng) 10/24/17)
The 15-nation West African bloc ECOWAS told regional leaders Tuesday that the goal of establishing a single currency among their economies in 2020 had failed. "The roadmap has not been implemented vigorously," Marcel de Souza, president of the ECOWAS Commission, told a summit in Niamey, the capital of Niger. "We cannot move to the single currency in 2020," he said.
(AFP (eng) 10/24/17)
The United States will maintain its large military presence in Niger to assist local forces despite the deaths of four American soldiers in an ambush, the Pentagon's top officer said Monday. Nearly three weeks after jihadists attacked a joint US-Niger patrol in a sensitive border area, General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the US is firmly committed to supporting Nigerien forces in counter-insurgency operations. With some 800 US forces deployed in the country, "our intent is to continue operations there," Dunford told a news conference. The October 4 clash, the deadliest US combat incident since President Donald Trump took office in January...
(Reuters (Eng) 10/24/17)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. military officer sought on Monday to tamp down criticism the Pentagon had not been forthcoming about the death of four U.S. soldiers in an ambush in Niger, providing a timeline of the incident and acknowledging unanswered questions remained. General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that the United States Africa Command was conducting an investigation into the Oct. 4 attack. Some lawmakers have criticized the Pentagon for being slow to provide answers. Dunford acknowledged that a number of issues were still under investigation, including why U.S. forces on the ground waited an hour until they called for support, what type of intelligence was used in the mission...
(AFP (eng) 10/24/17)
The pregnant widow of an American soldier killed in an ambush in Niger said Monday that Donald Trump struggled to remember his name during a condolence call, in an account the president immediately disputed. Trump's call to Myeshia Johnson, whose husband Sergeant La David Johnson was one of four US soldiers killed in the October 4 jihadist attack, has generated a storm of controversy and comes as questions swirl over how the attack happened. "Yes, the president said that he knew what he signed up for but it hurts anyways," Johnson said on ABC's Good Morning America TV program, in her first public comments on the death of her 25-year-old husband. "It made me cry because I was very angry...
(AFP (eng) 10/24/17)
Elephant poaching in Africa declined for a fifth straight year in 2016 but seizures of illegal ivory hit records highs, the CITES monitor said Tuesday, calling it a "conflicting phenomena". In its latest report, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species also noted that despite the overall fall in poaching, Africa's elephant population has continued to drop "due to continued illegal killing, land transformation and rapid human expansion." Global illegal ivory trade has remained relatively stable for six years, CITES reported. But 2016 saw a full 40 tonnes of illegal ivory seized, the most since 1989, as well as the hightest-ever number of "large-scale ivory seizures", the group said. "The overall weight of seized ivory in illegal trade is...
(AFP (eng) 10/23/17)
An appeal by Sahel region countries for help in their battle against jihadist violence received a boost Sunday when a visiting UN Security Council ambassador pledged support. "I can assure you Burkina Faso and the G5 Sahel Countries will get the support they need," said Ethiopian ambassador Tekeda Alemu, who co-presided with his French and Italian colleagues in the 15-strong UN delegation ending a five-day visit to the region. The trip came on the initiative of France, which is presiding over the UN Security Council this month.
(Reuters (Eng) 10/23/17)
DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - African political leaders, activists, and local chiefs joined forces on Monday to commit to ending child marriage in West and Central Africa, the region with the highest child marriage rate in the world. More than a third of girls in the region are married under the age of 18, with the rate over 50 percent in six countries and up to 76 percent in Niger. Driven by factors including poverty, insecurity and religious tradition, marrying off girls once they reach puberty or even before is a deeply engrained social custom in much of West and Central Africa. The practice hampers global efforts to reduce poverty and population growth and has negative impacts on women’s and...
(AFP (eng) 10/21/17)
Twelve paramilitary police were killed Saturday in a fresh attack in Niger's restive southwest bordering Mali, the interior minister said. "There was a new attack. Twelve gendarmes were killed. We have launched search operations," Mohamed Bazoum told AFP. It comes after an ambush at the beginning of October killed four US and four Niger soldiers along the border, which has been regularly targeted by jihadist groups. The latest dawn raid happened in the town of Ayorou in the Tillaberi region, 200 kilometres (124 miles) northwest of the capital Niamey. A security source said the attackers arrived in five vehicles and fled when police reinforcements arrived. Villagers saw them leave carrying bodies.
(AFP (eng) 10/21/17)
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis thanked his French counterpart Friday for France's assistance in the immediate aftermath of a Niger ambush that killed four US troops, as questions mounted in Washington about what happened. French warplanes flew overhead and armed helicopters evacuated the US wounded following the October 4 attack near the Mali border, which is thought to have been carried out by jihadists. The Pentagon chief has previously praised the less than 30-minute French response time after the attack on the joint US-Niger patrol, and officials say it shows how well the two countries'...
(AFP (eng) 10/21/17)
The killing of four American special operations soldiers in Niger has highlighted the increasing role elite units are playing across Africa, which is rapidly becoming a major center of US military action. Their mission is to counter the advances of a slew of jihadist movements across the continent, including Al-Shabaab in Somalia, affiliates of the Islamic State group in the Sahel region and Boko Haram in Nigeria. Of the 8,000 special forces "operators" deployed globally this year, more than 1,300 are in Africa, according to officials from the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which is based in Tampa, Florida. Another 5,000 or so are in the Middle East. In five years, the number of US commandos in Africa has tripled...
(Reuters (Eng) 10/20/17)
NIAMEY (Reuters) - A part of southwestern Niger where four U.S. Green Berets were killed during a mission the U.S. military had considered low-risk has seen at least 46 attacks by armed groups since early last year, a U.N. agency said on Friday. The deaths of the four U.S. soldiers and ensuing confusion over what happened during the Oct. 4 ambush have thrown a spotlight on the U.S. counter-terrorism mission in the West African nation, where about 800 U.S. troops are deployed. Four Nigerien soldiers were also killed. U.S. forces do not have a direct combat role in Niger and instead provide assistance to its army, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support.
(AFP (eng) 10/20/17)
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis revealed new details of a Niger ambush that left four US servicemen dead, including that the body of one slain soldier was not immediately evacuated. Mattis's comments come as questions mount in the US media about what happened on October 4, and criticism over President Donald Trump's handling of the aftermath. The Pentagon boss said the body of Sergeant La David Johnson was "found later" by non-US forces following the ambush, which is thought to have been conducted by jihadists in an area where an Islamic State group affiliate operates. US officials earlier had told CNN that Johnson's body was not recovered...
(Reuters (Eng) 10/20/17)
DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The #MeToo social media campaign to raise awareness about sexual harassment and abuse has sparked conversation in parts of Africa where domestic violence is rampant but strong cultural and religious taboos prevent women from admitting it. Prompted by sexual abuse allegations against American film mogul Harvey Weinstein, millions of women around the world have been sharing their experiences of harassment and abuse on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #MeToo. The movement has reached only a small part of the population in West Africa, but some women are participating in defiance of attitudes which dictate that being abused brings shame on the family, is a curse, or makes a woman unmarriageable. In Senegal, some women...
(AFP (eng) 10/19/17)
he grieving mother of a US soldier slain in an ambush in Niger reportedly said Wednesday that President Donald Trump had disrespected her son during a call he made to offer his condolences. "President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband," Sergeant La David Johnson's mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told the Washington Post. She said she agreed with an earlier account of the conversation given by a lawmaker who heard part of the call and accused Trump of insensitivity after he told Johnson's pregnant widow that the young soldier "knew what he was signing up for." Frederica Wilson, a Democratic congresswoman from Florida, said she listened in to part of a group phone call...
(AFP (eng) 10/18/17)
Small farmers in southeastern Niger are rejoicing after authorities lifted a two-year ban on the growing of red peppers, imposed in their fight against jihadists. Boko Haram Islamist rebels from neighbouring Nigeria were suspected of extorting money from the red-pepper trade in the Diffa region to fund their activities, which prompted the government to ban the crop. "Before the crisis, pepper growing used to bring billions of CFA francs into the region," equivalent to millions of dollars or euros, Bako Mamadou, the mayor of Bosso, told AFP. "We lifted the ban on growing two weeks ago... The farmers here have heaved a huge sign of relief." Popularly known as "tatassaye," the Diffa red pepper is dried in the sun and...
(AFP (eng) 10/18/17)
Rent-a-room giant Airbnb said Tuesday that it had provided accommodation for 1.2 million visitors to Africa over the last year -- double the previous year as tourism expands across the continent. The website now offers more than 100,000 accommodation options in Africa, global public affairs director Chris Lehane said on a visit to Johannesburg. "It's an incredibly rich and diverse continent, an incredibly dynamic place, certainly a big part of our future," Lehane told AFP. Airbnb was founded in 2008 and offers accommodation ranging from single bedrooms to whole homes in 65,000 cities in 191 countries. The company announced Tuesday that it would invest $1 million (850,000 euros) in Africa by 2020 to "promote and support community-led tourism projects". "For...

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