Wednesday 21 February 2018
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Two French soldiers were killed and another was hurt Wednesday when their armoured vehicle struck a mine in Mali, the French presidency said. Around 4,000 French troops are deployed in Mali and neighbouring countries to fight jihadist groups that have staged a string of attacks and kidnappings, some targeting Western nationals. The two soldiers were from a cavalry regiment based in Valence, a city in southeastern France, President Emmanuel Macron's office said in a statement, which did not say where the attack took place. Macron sent condolences to the soldiers' families and said the regional counter-terrorism operation had dealt "severe blows" to the enemy, the presidency added. The deaths bring to 12 the number of...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Nine people appeared in a Benin court Wednesday on charges of selling fake drugs at the start of a landmark trial in a regional campaign against illicit medicines. The suspects, who include executives from major pharmaceutical companies operating in the West African nation, were remanded in custody until March 6 on technical grounds. They are accused of "the sale of falsified medicines, (and) display, possession with a view to selling, commercialisation or sale of falsified medical substances." A tenth defendant, the head of the Directorate for Pharmacies, Medications and Diagnostic Evaluation (DPMED) under the control of the ministry of health, was not in court on the trial's opening day. He is accused of failing to prevent the offences. Benin launched...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Hundreds of African migrants launched a hunger strike to protest Israel's implementation of its controversial policy to expel or indefinitely imprison them, a spokesman for the group said Wednesday. Israel has resolved to expel thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese who entered illegally over the years, giving them an ultimatum to leave or risk being imprisoned indefinitely. As the migrants could face danger or imprisonment if returned to their homelands, Israel is offering to relocate them to an unnamed third country,...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
The European Union is to double its funding for a joint African military force to fight jihadists in the Sahel region with a 50-million-euro boost, EU sources said Wednesday. The bloc is expected to announce the new money for the G5 Sahel force, grouping Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, at talks in Brussels on Friday which will be attended by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The move comes as a surge in rebel attacks has underscored the challenge facing the five countries, among the poorest in the world, which are on the frontline of a war against Islamist militants.
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Three militiamen from forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar were killed Wednesday in a car bomb attack in the central Waddan region, a militia spokesman said. The blast -- which was not immediately claimed by any group -- wounded two others at a checkpoint on the road leading to Tripoli, some 500 kilometres (310 miles) to the north, said commander Ahmed al-Mesmari. Jihadists from the Islamic State group remain active in central and southern Libya despite being forced out...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Fears grew in northeast Nigeria on Wednesday about the fate of potentially scores of girls who have not been seen since a Boko Haram attack on their school two days ago. Militants stormed the Government Girls Science Secondary School in Dapchi, Yobe state, on Monday evening. Locals initially said the girls and their teachers fled the attack. The jihadists gained worldwide notoriety in April 2014 when they abducted 276 girls from their school in Chibok, in neighbouring Borno state.
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Nigeria's aviation authorities said Wednesday they had launched an investigation into how a passenger plane overshot the runway while landing in the southern city of Port Harcourt. The incident involving a Dana Air Boeing MD-83 jet happened at about 7:30 pm (1830 GMT) on Tuesday. None of the 44 passengers and six crew on board was injured. But Sam Adurogboye, of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), told AFP the plane was "badly damaged", adding: "We have launched an investigation."...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
A Boko Haram attack on a girls school in northeast Nigeria has revived fears of another Chibok-style mass kidnapping, even as the government claims the jihadists are on the verge of defeat. Dozens of heavily armed fighters stormed Dapchi village in the Bursari area of Yobe state on Monday evening, firing shots and setting off explosives. Students and teachers at the Girls Science Secondary School fled into the bush for safety, fearing the Islamist militants would abduct them. The potential for a repeat of what happened some 275 kilometres (170 miles) away by road in Chibok, in neighbouring Borno state...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
An armed gang stormed into a rural police station in South Africa on Wednesday and stole firearms in an attack that left five officers and a soldier dead, police said. The robbers entered the police station in the southern village of Engcobo shortly after midnight, opening fire on the officers and seizing two others, who were later shot and killed, police spokesman Vish Naidoo said. "During the early hours of this morning six people were killed when robbers attacked Engcobo...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
A Congolese humanitarian worker, kidnapped at the weekend in the troubled east of DR Congo by an armed group that killed two of his colleagues, has been freed, his NGO said Tuesday. "He was freed yesterday (Monday)... We found him with several cuts on his face," said Richard Kahindo, head of the NGO Hydraulique sans Frontieres (HYFRO), which specialises in water purification projects. The release of the abducted aid worker was also confirmed to AFP by local official Francois Bakundakabo...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Morris Kidir gestures at a wide expanse of dark-green land he says was earmarked for a school or clinic in his northern Liberian village, now covered in young oil palm trees. In October last year, he recalls, workers from Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby arrived at the plot and began filling in the only gap left in a forest of palms that stretch as far as the eye can see. Kidir, an elder in the village of Gbah, Bomi county, is...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
The devastating effect of Ebola on Liberia's fragile health system may have killed more people than the virus itself, a new study says, many of them pregnant women and malaria patients. The West African nation was the worst-hit by the haemorrhagic virus during the 2014-16 outbreak, leaving 4,800 dead and thousands more with lingering symptoms. The study in the journal PLOS Medicine conducted by a team from the University of Washington and released late Tuesday found that up to 67...
(AFP (eng) 02/20/18)
A Spanish court on Tuesday allowed an Ivory Coast man to walk free, with only a small fine to pay, after his son was found crammed into a suitcase at a border crossing. Prosecutors had initially sought a three-year prison term for Ali Ouattara, 45, for facilitating his son's illegal entry into Europe and threatening the child's life. "The child's life was endangered, he was inhumanly curled up in a tiny suitcase, without ventilation," judge Fernando Teson said as the...
(AFP (eng) 02/20/18)
A cholera outbreak in Malawi described as "very difficult to contain" has claimed nine lives and affected a total of 541 people nationwide, health officials said on Tuesday. The outbreak began in November near the landlocked southern African nation's northern border with Tanzania and has since spread to other regions of the country. UNICEF's representative to Malawi Johannes Wedenig told local media that "as long as people in Malawi don't change the behaviour of using unsafe water, it'll be very...
(AFP (eng) 02/20/18)
Two Kenyan pilots held for over a month after crash-landing their plane in rebel-held South Sudan have been released, a rebel spokesman said Tuesday. The two men were flying South Sudanese aid workers close to Akobo in the east of the country early last month when they were forced to make an emergency landing, resulting in the death of one civilian and the pilots' subsequent detention. They were handed over to Kenyan officials on Monday in exchange for $108,000 (87,000...
(AFP (eng) 02/20/18)
Residents of drought-stricken Cape Town received good news Tuesday when city officials said they now face losing piped water to their homes by July 9 -- a month later than last forecast. But Capetonians are not yet out of the woods. If drastic consumption reductions are not achieved by so-called "Day Zero" -- the last day of normal water supply -- people will have to queue at 200 standpipes for daily rations of 25 litres (6.6 US gallons). The city,...
(AFP (eng) 02/20/18)
Almost 8 million euros ($10 million) of European funding has been pledged to restore and protect a UNESCO world heritage site in Chad, said NGO African Parks on Tuesday. The stunning mountainous landscape of the sandstone Ennedi nature reserve in northeastern Chad, near the border with Sudan, is a water-rich island of biodiversity on the southern fringes of the Sahara desert. It is home to hundreds of species of wildlife including crocodiles, hyenas and gazelles. The European Union and the...
(AFP (eng) 02/20/18)
Boko Haram jihadists launched an attack on a girls boarding school in northeast Nigeria but the students and teachers fled to safety, witnesses said Monday. A convoy of fighters in pickup trucks descended on Dapchi village in the Bursari area of Yobe state around 6 pm (1700 GMT) targeting the school, resident Sheriff Aisami told AFP. "When they stormed the village they began shooting and setting off explosives," Aisami said. "This drew the attention of the girls in the Girls...
(AFP (eng) 02/20/18)
Nigeria has freed another 51 Boko Haram suspects in the latest round of dropped cases for lack of evidence, the justice ministry said Monday. Over the course of last week, hundreds of suspected Boko Haram extremists appeared before a court at the Kainji military base in central Niger state. A total of 526 suspects have been released from custody after it was found there was not enough evidence to prosecute them, underscoring concerns from human rights groups that the Nigerian...
(AFP (eng) 02/20/18)
Two Congolese aid workers were killed and a third abducted by an unidentified armed group in the troubled North Kivu province of Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Nations said Monday. "We lost two fellow aid workers killed in the line of duty by unidentified armed people," the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement. The three men were employed by the Congolese NGO Hydraulique Sans Frontieres (HYFRO), which specialises in water purification projects, when attacked on Saturday near the village of Mushikiri. OCHA said it "strongly condemns this latest attack" and called for "the immediate and unconditional release of the person held hostage".

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