Thursday 18 January 2018
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
Four people were killed and two others kidnapped in separate overnight attacks in the far north of Cameroon, blamed on the Islamist group Boko Haram, sources told AFP on Thursday. Three of the victims were "slaughtered" in Kolofata, a town which borders Nigeria and that has seen a spate of attacks blamed on the jihadists, said a source close to the security services. A security officer in the region confirmed the information to AFP, and that two people were also abducted. In a second overnight attack, Boko Haram fighters are believed to have killed one person and injured another in nearby Ashigashiya, also by the Nigerian border, said the security officer. The jihadists also burned some 60 boxes of grain...
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
Tunisia has been shaken by a wave of protests against austerity measures that have seen nearly 800 people arrested over the past few days. The demonstrations come almost seven years after president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in a revolt that sparked uprisings across the Arab world. What is behind the latest unrest and where does the country go from here? - What's different this time? - The trigger of the protests was a finance law imposing tax hikes after a year of rising prices, but the demonstrators' demands are similar to those of 2011, says political analyst Selim Kharrat. Above all, the protesters are calling for dignity and jobs, echoing slogans of the 2011 revolution -- "Work,...
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
The Berbers -- descendants of pre-Arab populations across North Africa -- are currently celebrating their New Year festivities. On Friday -- for the first time -- the Yennayer New Year is being marked as a national holiday in Algeria. The Berbers, who refer to themselves as the Amazigh, have long fought for greater recognition for their ancient ethnic group, their culture and language. In Algeria they make up roughly a quarter of the country's total population of 40 million and live mainly in the mountainous northern region of Kabylie. Here is some background on other Berber communities that have stretched across North Africa since long before the Arab conquests: - Morocco - On Africa's northwestern tip, Morocco is the country...
(AFP (eng) 01/11/18)
The European Union on Thursday called on Sudan to allow protests that are being held against rising food prices, saying it was closely monitoring the demonstrations and detention of political leaders. Sporadic protests have erupted in parts of Sudan since last week as angry students and citizens took to the streets against soaring bread prices on the back of a jump in the cost of flour. Anti-riot police have swiftly broken up the demonstrations using tear gas against protesters, many of them university students. A student was killed on Sunday during a protest in war-torn Darfur. On Thursday, the EU said it was closely monitoring the protests. "We consider it crucial that people are permitted to exercise their right to...
(AFP (eng) 01/11/18)
Huge crowds turned out in central Nigeria on Thursday at a funeral service for scores of people killed during clashes between cattle herders and farmers. Tens of thousands of people, many of them dressed in black, gathered in Ibrahim Babangida Square in the Benue state capital, Makurdi, for the ceremony before a mass burial. Emergency officials told AFP on Tuesday that 80 people had been killed since the start of the year, in violence that has led to mounting calls for President Muhammadu Buhari to act. Benue state governor Samuel Ortom said 73 of the victims would be buried on Thursday. The crowds began wailing as the simple, polished darkwood caskets were brought to the square on flat-bed trucks, according...
(AFP (eng) 01/11/18)
Flags flew at half-mast in Mali on Thursday as the government announced 48 of its citizens drowned in the Mediterranean on a single day over the weekend, all trying to reach Europe. The west African nation accounted for the fifth largest contingent of arrivals to Italy by sea last year, according to the International Organization for Migration, fleeing poverty, unemployment and instability. "Forty-eight of our compatriots lost their lives in the Mediterranean on Sunday, January 7," said a foreign ministry statement issued late Wednesday. Sixty-nine people escaped with their lives, including four children, and were identified on Monday in Libya by an embassy delegation, the statement added. They will be sent back to Mali "as quickly as possible", it said...
(AFP (eng) 01/11/18)
A video showing the dean of a prominent Sudanese women's university beating female students protesting against high food prices has gone viral, sparking outrage on social media Thursday. The footage showed Qassim Badri, dean of Khartoum-based Ahfad University for Women, walking into a crowd of female students on campus and slapping one and beating another repeatedly. More students then surrounded him, with one even hitting him as others shouted slogans with their hands raised, the video showed. The incident occurred on Wednesday when the students were demonstrating against high prices of food items sold at a cafeteria on campus. The video went viral after students and activists uploaded it on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, sparking an outburst...
(AFP (eng) 01/11/18)
A third night of unrest has shaken Tunisia where authorities said Thursday more than 600 people have been arrested this week as anger at austerity measures boils over on the streets. Tunisia is considered a rare success story of the Arab Spring uprisings that began in the North African country in 2011 and spread across the region, toppling autocrats. But the authorities have failed to resolve the issues of poverty and unemployment. Police detained 328 people on Wednesday for theft, looting, arson and blocking roads, the interior ministry said, after arresting more than 280 people over the previous two days.
(AFP (eng) 01/11/18)
The ruins of two buildings used to supervise mines in ancient Egypt more than 4,400 years ago have been discovered in the south, the antiquities ministry said on Thursday. The find was made by a US-Egyptian mission in the Tal Edfu area north of the city of Aswan. One building was from the era of the pharaoh Djedkare Isesi of the fifth dynasty which ruled Egypt more than 4,400 years ago, the ministry said. The other was constructed during the sixth dynasty which ruled between 2,323 BC and 2,135 BC. "The complex consists of two massive buildings containing many rooms and it is yet to be fully examined," the antiquities ministry's Ayman Ashmawy told AFP. "These buildings were used as...
(AFP (eng) 01/11/18)
Greece's coastguard on Wednesday said it had seized a freighter carrying explosive materials from Turkey to Libya, described as a "moving bomb". The ship was found to be carrying 29 crates containing detonators and explosive materials including ammonium nitrate. "The coastguard has deactivated a moving bomb," coastguard rear admiral Yiannis Sotiriou told reporters, according to state agency ANA. Sotiriou added that the Tanzania-flagged freighter Andromeda, seized on January 6, was found to have dozens of structural issues and should not have been at sea. "It could have had unpredictable consequences on people and the environment," he said.
(AFP (eng) 01/11/18)
A total of 141 civilians in Niger were killed, kidnapped or wounded by the Boko Haram jihadist group last year, a sharp fall compared with 2016, the UN said on Wednesday. The toll in 2016 was 227 after 214 in 2015, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report. Boko Haram launched an insurgency in northeast Nigeria in 2009 that in 2015 spilled into Niger. It also affects the country's other neighbours, Chad and Cameroon. Overall, more than 20,000 people have been killed and more than 2.6 million displaced in the conflict. In Niger, the Diffa administrative region in the southeast of the country, which lies on the frontier with Nigeria and Chad, bore the...
(AFP (eng) 01/11/18)
Ethiopia's parliament has passed a law banning the adoption of Ethiopian children by foreigners, a government spokesman and diplomats told AFP on Wednesday. The vote follows an April moratorium on foreign adoptions issued by Ethiopia's government which led to the suspension of dozens of cases, including some of parents who had already completed the legal adoption process. A spokesman for Ethiopia's ministry of women, children and youth affairs confirmed the passing of the law on Tuesday without providing further details, but local media reports lauded the move claiming foreign adoptions have "opened a door for different crimes against minors." In 2013 an American couple were jailed for manslaughter for the death of their adoptive Ethiopian daughter two years earlier. Foreign...
(AFP (eng) 01/11/18)
The cyclone that slammed into Madagascar last week has claimed a total of 36 lives, with 20,000 people displaced by flooding, heavy rain and high winds, authorities said Wednesday. Tropical cyclone Ava made landfall on Friday, lashing the eastern part of the African island until Saturday night, with many rivers overflowing, roads cut off and bridges submerged. Seventeen people died after a house crumbled following a mudslide in the Ivory suburb southeast of the capital Antananarivo. "On a national scale, the provisional toll is 36 dead, 25 missing and 20,462 displaced persons," the National Bureau for Risk and Catastrophe Management said in a statement.
(AFP (eng) 01/10/18)
The cash-strapped central African nation of Chad has suspended a plan to reduce the salaries of its civil servants, Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacke announced on Wednesday. The plan, announced earlier this month, aims to ease the strains on a budget badly hit by a nearly four-year slump in oil revenues and a rise in borrowing. Trade unions had angrily opposed the scheme. Civil service salaries in 2017 totalled 376 billion CFA francs (about 600 million euros/$720 million), roughly the equivalent of the combined revenue from income tax and customs duties, according to official figures given to AFP on Tuesday. Chad is under pressure to cut costs to meet performance targets under an International Monetary Fund (IMF) aid programme. The...
(AFP (eng) 01/10/18)
Senegal has said it will step up efforts to stop the trafficking of prized timber in its southern Casamance region, following the massacre of 13 men in an incident believed linked to the trade. The army is leading a search for the perpetrators of the January 6 attack in the forest of Borofaye, close to the regional capital of Ziguinchor. Most of the victims were shot, and one was burned to death. Justice Minister Ismaila Madior Fall said the authorities would "evaluate the policy for criminality linked to wood trafficking in the region" in remarks released late Tuesday, after the illicit sale of teak emerged as a possible motive for the killings.
(AFP (eng) 01/10/18)
Forty-three gold diggers died in abandoned mines in Cameroon in the first 10 months of last year, a watchdog group said Wednesday. "The toll of people who died in mining holes... reached 43 in the first 10 months" of 2017, said Foder, a local NGO whose full name in English means Forest and Rural Development. The group said much of the blame lay with corporations, many of them Chinese, which abandon open-cast gold mines after profitable seams run out. When the companies leave, individual gold hunters move in, digging holes into a site that in some cases have already been excavated to a depth of 200 metres (650 feet). Nine died last year after the walls of their hole collapsed...
(AFP (eng) 01/10/18)
The head of the influential Mouride brotherhood of Muslims in West Africa has died, Senegalese media reported on Wednesday. Around 95 percent of Senegal's population is Muslim and most men join Sufi brotherhoods that combine Islam with distinctive local beliefs. Serigne Sidy Moctar Mbacke, who was 92 or 93 when he passed away on Tuesday, was the grandson of the founder of the brotherhood, Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba Mbacke, and became its seventh caliph in 2010. He was buried overnight in the holy city of Touba and will be succeeded by another grandson of Bamba, Serigne Mountakha Bassirou Mbacke, the official APS news agency reported. President Macky Sall was due in Touba to offer his condolences, Le Soleil newspaper reported, in...
(AFP (eng) 01/10/18)
An EU fisheries deal with Morocco is invalid because it involves the disputed region of Western Sahara, the legal advisor to the bloc's top court said Wednesday in a fresh blow to Brussels and Rabat. The advocate general to the European Court of Justice, Melchior Wathelet, said in a legal opinion that the European Union was "in breach of its obligation to respect the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination". Morocco suspended ties with Brussels in 2016 after a lower EU court annulled an agriculture deal on similar grounds, although the ruling was later overturned and they are now pushing ahead with the pact.
(AFP (eng) 01/10/18)
Lawmakers in the breakaway state of Somaliland have for the first time adopted a law criminalising rape, in what has been hailed as a "victory for women" in the conservative Muslim region. "This law is the most useful ever passed in Somaliland and it will help eradicate violations against women, specifically, rape and other sexual offences," MP Ibrahim Mahdi Buba told AFP late Tuesday. After seven years of debate, the law was finally adopted on Monday in Hargeisa, the capital of the semi-autonomous region which declared independence from troubled Somalia in 1991. Forty-six of the 51 MPs present in the lower house approved the law, which must now go through the upper house before being signed by the president. "Local...
(AFP (eng) 01/10/18)
Two trains collided near South Africa's biggest city Johannesburg on Tuesday, lightly injuring more than 200 people, less than a week after a rail crash killed 19 passengers. "Human error" was responsible for the accident, which occurred at Germiston, east of Johannesburg, the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) of South Africa said. It said a train was authorised to enter the station while another one was still there, "which subsequently resulted in a rear-end collision." A total of 226 people were slightly or moderately injured, the RSR said. On Thursday, a passenger train travelling from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg smashed into a lorry at a level crossing near Kroonstad in central Free State and burst into flames, killing four children and...

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