Thursday 18 January 2018
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Fierce fighting forced the closure of the Libyan capital's only civilian airport on Monday, officials said, after a militia in charge of security there said it had been attacked. The Facebook page of Mitiga International Airport, in eastern Tripoli, said "flights have been suspended because of fighting that broke out this morning". Al-Radaa, a force loyal to the UN-backed Libyan government and tasked with keeping the facility secure, said in a statement it had come under attack. An armed group "has attacked Mitiga international airport... which is home to a prison where more than 2,500 people are detained for various" reasons, Al-Radaa said on Facebook. Fighters attacked in a bid "to free" some of its members detained there, it added,...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Somalia's Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab insurgents are increasingly threatening civilians to force them to hand over young children for "indoctrination and military training", Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Monday. The rights watchdog said an aggressive campaign to recruit children had begun in mid-2017, with the jihadists taking reprisals against communities who refuse to cooperate. Hundreds of children have fled their homes to avoid this fate, often alone, it said in a statement. "Al-Shabaab's ruthless recruitment campaign is taking rural children from their parents so they can serve this militant armed group...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
A diamond thought to be the fifth largest of gem quality ever found has been discovered in Lesotho, miner Gem Diamonds said Monday, and could be worth as much as $40 million. The company unearthed the D-colour stone at the Letseng mine in the landlocked southern African country and described the 910-carat find as of "exceptional quality". "Since Gem Diamonds acquired Letseng in 2006, the mine has produced some of the world's most remarkable diamonds, including the 603 carat Lesotho Promise," Gem Diamonds chief executive Clifford Elphick said in a statement. "However, this exceptional top quality diamond is the largest to be mined to date... This is a landmark discovery." Ben Davis, a mining analyst at Liberum Capital, speculated in...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Senegalese police said Sunday they have arrested 22 people suspected of involvement in a January 6 massacre of 14 young men in the troubled region of Casamance. The arrests were the first in connection with the killings in a region separated from the rest of Senegal by The Gambia, and which has been the target of an independence campaign for more than 35 years. "Ongoing investigations have opened up useful lines of enquiry leading to the arrest thus far of 22 people, all of Senegalese nationality," a police statement said. A rebel movement in the area has blamed the massacre on a feud in the illegal teak logging industry, ending a period of relative calm in Casamance. Around 20 men...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Nigerian cattle breeders on Sunday defended themselves from criticism after recent clashes with farmers left 80 dead, claiming they had lost more than 1,000 people to violence since mid-2017. Fulani herdsmen have been blamed for a spate of attacks against farming communities in the central state of Benue since the start of this year, putting pressure on the government to act. President Muhammadu Buhari has been criticised for his response to the attacks, which security analysts assess could pose a bigger threat than Boko Haram in the country's northeast. Pressure for land and water is seen as the main driver of the conflict, alongside ethnic and sectarian grievances, while a failure to prosecute those responsible...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
The World Health Organization Monday said there was a high risk of a cholera epidemic after flooding in Kinshasa, the teeming and ramshackle capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. "In a big city like Kinshasa, which has between 10 and 12 million inhabitants, the rains and the floods make the risk of a spread of this epidemic very high," the WHO's Africa director Matshidiso R. Moeti said at a press briefing. Since a cholera outbreak was first reported in November, officials had registered "531 cases, with 32 deaths," senior health ministry official Sylvain Yuma Ramazani told journalists. The highly infectious disease, which thrives in conditions of poor sanitation and contaminated water or food, has spread to 21 of the...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Burundian refugees living in a transit camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday complained of a lack of humanitarian support after their refusal to register on a biometric database, claiming it would violate their religion. "We've had no more assistance from humanitarian organisations since January 1, 2018, still less from the (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)," spokeswoman for the group Francoise Ndayisenga told AFP. The refugees belong to an obscure Catholic sect that follows a female prophet called Zebiya, who claims to have had several visions of the Virgin Mary in north Burundi...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
The cyclone that slammed into Madagascar earlier this month has claimed 51 lives, with 54,000 people displaced by flooding, heavy rain and high winds, authorities said. Tropical cyclone Ava made landfall on January 5, lashing the eastern part of the African island for 24 hours, with many rivers overflowing, roads cut off and bridges submerged. Twenty-two people are still missing while 161,000 others have been affected following the storms, the National Bureau for Risk and Catastrophe Management (NBRCM) said late Sunday. The toll from Ava stood at 29 dead and 80,000 affected one week ago. Madagascar, one of the world's poorest countries, is regularly hit by cyclones. In March last year, cyclone Enawo killed at least 78 people.
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
A group of young women shown in a video released by Boko Haram on Monday are purported to be among the more than 200 abducted from Chibok, northeast Nigeria, in 2014. Here is a timeline of the mass kidnapping that captured global attention: - Snatched from school - On April 14, 2014 Boko Haram gunmen seize 276 girls aged 12 to 17 from the Government Girls Secondary School in the remote town of Chibok in Borno state. The girls are forced from their dormitories onto trucks and driven into the bush. Fifty-seven manage to flee. Boko Haram factional leader Abubakar Shekau claims responsibility in a video released on May 5 and vows to sell the girls as slave brides. A...
(AFP (eng) 01/13/18)
A jihadist group linked to Islamic State has claimed responsibility for attacks on US and French troops in west Africa, in a statement published Friday by Mauritania's ANI news agency. The group, led by Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui, said it was behind "an attack against an American commando unit in Niger in October." On October 4, four US and four Niger troops were killed in an ambush at Tongo Tongo, a village close to the Mali border. That attack had been blamed on the jihadists but it is only now that the group claimed responsibility.
(Reuters (Eng) 01/12/18)
MUSANZE, Rwanda (Reuters) - A census of mountain gorillas due in March will likely show numbers have risen this decade, experts said during a ceremony to mark Rwanda’s expansion of its Volcano National Park. The last global survey in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda in 2010 found just 480 individuals of the critically endangered sub-species. Eugene Mutangana, the head of conservation at the Rwandan Development Board (RDB), said an average of 18 baby mountain gorillas had been born each year in Rwanda since 2005, when the east African nation began naming them in an annual ceremony. “We only had seven families of gorillas seven years ago. Today we have 20,” RDB chief executive Clare Akamanzi said. Mountain...
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
Boko Haram fighters have killed at least 20 loggers, militia members and residents told AFP on Friday, in the latest attack against civilians in northeast Nigeria. The attack happened on Monday when gunmen on motorbikes opened fire on a group of loggers collecting firewood at Kaje village, near the Borno state capital, Maiduguri. "They (Boko Haram) killed 20 people in the attack. Fifteen others are missing and presumed kidnapped by the attackers," civilian militia leader Ibrahim Liman told AFP. Details of the attack have been slow to emerge due to limited communications infrastructure after years of fighting in the remote region.
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
The alleged ringleader of a gang that kidnapped four British missionaries in southern Nigeria last year has been killed in a shootout with soldiers, the military said on Friday. One of the Britons, Ian Squire, was killed while the three other hostages were released in November. They were seized a month earlier as they provided free healthcare in villages in Delta state. Peregbakumo Oyawerikumo -- also known as Karowei and who was described by the military as the kidnap "kingpin" -- was arrested during a week-long clearance operation on Thursday. He was detained in connection with the kidnapping and "unprovoked attacks on military locations" in the region that recently led to the deaths of four soldiers, said army spokesman Major...
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
The brutal murder of 14 people in a protected forest in Senegal's southern Casamance region has interrupted years of relative calm in this once restive region. A week on, what do we know about the motivations for the killings and their repercussions? - What happened? - On January 6, around 20 men were collecting wood in the protected forest of Bayottes, close to the regional capital of Ziguinchor. Around 15-20 armed men ambushed them, according to victim testimony, confiscated their mobile phones and bicycles, and told them to lie face down before opening fire. The government said 10 were shot dead, two were stabbed to death and one was burned. Half a dozen more were wounded. The army immediately began...
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
Police in Zambia clashed on Friday with residents in the capital Lusaka protesting an official ban on street commerce in a poor suburb intended to tackle a deadly cholera outbreak. A crowd of hundreds from the impoverished Kanyama community blockaded roads with burning tyres and logs and set a refuse lorry ablaze as they demanded that informal street retailing be allowed again. Authorities had banned some street markets in Lusaka in an effort to reduce the volume of food and drink being sold in unsanitary open-air locations, which are particularly vulnerable to the spread of cholera. Kanyama is the area which has been worst hit by Zambia's cholera outbreak which began in September and has claimed the lives of 70...
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
Algeria on Friday marked the Berber New Year as a public holiday, a first for the North African region where indigenous peoples have long suffered marginalisation. Members of the Berber community -- descendants of North Africa's pre-Arab inhabitants -- feasted on traditional meals of couscous and chicken, danced, played traditional games, and held horse parades as they do each year. But for the first time official events marking the Yennayer celebration were also being held across the entire country of some 40 million people, roughly a quarter of whom are Berber. "Traditionally we celebrate Yennayer with our families around a copious meal of poultry and dried meat," explained Samia Moumni, as she cooked couscous under a small tent in the...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/12/18)
MAKURDI, Nigeria (Reuters) - Seventy-three people killed since the start of the year in communal violence between semi-nomadic herdsmen and farmers were buried in Nigeria on Thursday highlighting a bloody conflict over fertile land that is taking on political significance. The mass burial took place in Makurdi, in the central state of Benue, where thousands of mourners took to the streets to watch the funeral procession. The killings occurred in remote parts of Benue, the state worst hit by clashes that have killed at least 83 people since Dec. 31. Thousands of herdsmen mainly from the Fulani ethnic group have moved southwards in the last few years to flee spreading desertification in the north, putting pressure on dwindling fertile land...
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
Tunisian authorities said Friday the number of people detained in a wave of violent protests had risen to nearly 800, as fresh unrest over austerity measures hit a provincial town overnight. Activists have called for a major protest Friday over the measures introduced at the start of the year that are expected to see prices rise. An AFP correspondent in the northern town of Siliana reported that police fired tear gas at dozens of youths who pelted them with stones for some three hours overnight. But the situation appeared calm in other flashpoint towns and neighbourhoods across the country that had seen clashes that left dozens of police officers injured. Interior ministry spokesman Khalifa Chibani said 151 people were arrested...
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
Libya marked the destruction of its last toxic arms Thursday, hailed by the world's chemical weapons watchdog as a "historic occasion" to make the world a safer place. The final destruction of some 500 metric tonnes of chemical products at a facility based in Munster in western Germany, was a "historic occasion for disarmament and security," the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said. "It heralds the end of Libya's chemical demilitarisation process and another step towards fulfilling the core goal of the Chemical Weapons Convention -- the complete and permanent eradication of all chemical weapons," director-general Ahmet Uzumcu said in a statement. The stocks, including 23 tanks of chemicals, were shipped out on a Danish vessel on...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/12/18)
SIDI BOUZID, Tunisia (Reuters) - Shouting slogans and holding up placards outside a government office in the impoverished Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid, university graduates have a message for officials - give us jobs or you will face trouble. They are part of the spasm of anti-government unrest that spread nationwide this week, stoking another political crisis in a nation in turmoil as austerity bites hard under pressure from foreign lenders to get Tunisia’s finances in order. It was in Sidi Bouzid that mass protests erupted seven years ago and rapidly engulfed the rest of the North African country, sweeping away autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in the first of the Arab Spring uprisings. Now the young men and women...

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