Mali Conflict: French soldier killed in northern Mali amid jail break in the south

The French presidency confirmed that another soldier has been killed in northern Mali

The French presidency confirmed that another soldier has been killed in northern Mali

 

The French presidency has confirmed through the Defence Ministry that a French soldier has been killed in northern Mali on late Monday evening.

The soldier according to the statement released by the presidency was in the commando division from a parachute regiment who were on a special operation when he was killed by militants in the north.

The statement however failed to give further details on how the soldier was killed in the northern part of the country believe to be the hub for the militants.

This latest death brought to a total number of six French soldiers being killed since France intervened in Mali to fight militants in January.

France began withdrawing some of its 4,000 troops earlier this month and has pushed for a UN-backed peacekeeping force that has been created.

The over 12,000 strong UN peacekeeping forces will be deployed to Mali in July ahead of nationwide elections in that same month.

But France has said that 1,000 of its soldiers will remain for now to pursue al-Qaeda linked militants while other international forces concentrate on securing the main cities and roads.

Some towns and cities have been recaptured by French soldiers but a number of militant fighters are believed to remain in their desert hideouts in the north.

They have resorted to guerrilla tactics in counter-attacking French forces and the current African Union troops in the north of the country.

Chad withdrew its troops from the country saying it troops lack the skills and capabilities in fighting guerrilla warfare in the country.

The UN recently agreed to create over 12,000-strong peacekeeping force for the country alongside strategic advice from France.

The peacekeeping force will incorporate the already 6,000 African Union soldiers in the country to fight the militants.

In the French government statement, President Francois Hollande extended his condolences to the relatives of the soldier killed and praised the determination and courage of French forces in Mali.

Meanwhile, in a related development in the capital Bamako, the Malian security forces say they have arrested at least eight people suspected of plotting an attack for the militant group Movement for Jihad in West Africa MUJWA in a jail break on Monday evening.

Officials said the arrests were the first sign that militants battling French and African Union troops for control of Mali’s desert north have activated cells in Bamako, which is located in the south.

But officials failed to give number of militants who have escaped through the activation of the said cell which was broken by the militants.

Local reporters say a significant number of the militants might have probably escaped the jail break raising questions about the security capabilities of Malian forces.

Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa News

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Libya Blockade: Gunmen surround Foreign Ministry with heavy weapons

Gunmen surroundered the Foreign Ministry with heavy weapons in the Libyan capital Tripoli

Gunmen surroundered the Foreign Ministry with heavy weapons in the Libyan capital Tripoli

 

Local reporters in the Libyan capital has said that gunmen has surrendered the Foreign Ministry with heavy weapons including anti-air craft guns demanding an end to work given to Gaddafi officials.

Eye witnesses confirmed that dozens of the armed men stopped workers entering the building and moved traffic away from the area making the area very chaotic.

The Lana News Agency reported that Roads leading to the building in the capital, Tripoli, were obstructed by at least 20 vehicles, as militiamen carrying AK-47 rifles and anti-air craft gun moved into the area causing heavy traffic.

Heavy explosion hit the French Embassy last week in an attack that injured 2 French security guards who were on duty and caused destructions to the embassy building and its surrounding.

Libyan official have not been able to retrieve weapons given to the rebels who fought alongside NATO to overthrow Gaddafi.

Law makers in the country have been unable to agree on the terms of a law barring figures from the late Gaddafi’s government from entering politics and has culminated in armed groups have been storming the Congress grounds on several occasions to demand that elements in the Gaddafi administration be banned from politics in Libya.

The Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, addressed a news conference moment after the blockade of the Foreign Ministry and urged Libyans to back their government in the face of what he described as “people who want to destabilize the country”.

He also complained of other attacks and “acts of sabotage”, carried out by separate groups, against the interior ministry and national TV headquarters.

But the Lana news agency says the action at the interior ministry was not linked to the events outside the foreign ministry.

The armed men went there to demand that officials in the Gaddafi administration be removed from all positions in the country, according to the Lana News Agency.

Since the death of Gaddafi, major cities and towns including the capital Tripoli have been plagued by violence and infighting.

The government has recently tried to dismantle illegally-armed militias that formed during and after the war that toppled the former leader but to no avail.

Many people believe that the current officials of the country are gradually loosing their authority on the country and is likely that the country will soon turn into a hub for armed groups in the Maghreb.

An attack on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi by armed men in September 2012 led to the killing of the US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American officials and coupled with the French Embassy explosion last week makes the security of the country questionable to many in Africa.

Issaka Adams NationalTurk Africa News

French Family abduction in Cameroon: Nigeria reveals Boko Haram was paid $3m ransom before freeing French Family of seven

Nigeria has revealed that Boko Haram was paid $3m ransom before freeing the hostages

Nigeria has revealed that Boko Haram was paid $3m ransom before freeing the French family in Cameroon

 

A confidential report from the Nigerian government has revealed that the militants Boko Haram who captured French family of seven in February this year has been paid $3m as ransom before releasing the hostages.

Boko Haram released the French Family after taking them hostage for more than one month in the northern part of Cameroon close to the border with Nigeria.

The French family, including four children, was captured in Cameroon in February after they were returning from a tourist visit from the Waza National Park near the border with Nigeria.

The Reuters News Agency who claimed to have seen the Nigerian report reported that the report suggested that 1.6 billion CFA francs ($3.15 million) was paid, but that right up until the last minute Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau had insisted on double that, before agreeing to reduce it if some Boko Haram members in Cameroonian jails were freed.

The report did not say who paid the ransom for the family of seven, who were all released on April 19, but mentioned that Cameroon had freed some Boko Haram prisoners as part of the deal.

Boko Haram had earlier demanded that some of its prisoners held in Cameroon be freed before they will negotiate on releasing the hostages.

But the French President Francois Hollande has strongly denied the claims saying France has stop paying ransom to militants and pirates long time ago.

Many in Nigeria according to local reporters say they do not believe in what the French President has said that France did not pay any ransom.

The Cameroon government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary on his part said “Cameroon did not pay any ransom” to the militants.

Nigeria where the reported emanated from declined to comment on the issue but many analysts also are pointing fingers at  the French Gas Group GDF-Suez, the company the father of the family works for.

Mr. Moulin-Fournier who works for the gas group, his wife Albane and four children, aged between five and 12, had been joined on their holiday by his brother Cyril and decided to visit the Waza National Park when they were abducted.

In a YouTube video released about a week after their capture, the militants demanded the release of prisoners in Cameroon and Nigeria.

Many security analysts in Nigeria have said that if this report is confirmed to be true, then, that will boost the operations of Boko Haram because of the magnitude of the amount involved.

Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa News

 

 

 

Mali Conflict: United Nations officially approves new peacekeeping force

the United Nations has officially approved a new peacekeeping force for Mali

the United Nations has officially approved a new peacekeeping force for Mali

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously approved a resolution creating for the first time new combat peacekeeping troops for Mali.

Former colonial master France intervene in the country in January this year after militants in the north of the country took advantage of a coup d’état by Captain Amadou Sanogo coupled with Tuareg insurgency.

France has since been successful in the intervention with a boost from troops from the African Union but now wants to withdraw its forces.

France began withdrawing some of its 4,000 troops earlier this month but has been pushing for a UN force to take over from the West African force, which has now yielded results with the creation of the new peacekeeping force.

But France says it will leave behind 1,000 of its forces to provide the needed assistance to the new peacekeeping force.

The resolution created 12,600 forces and it is intended to incorporate some 6,000 African Union soldiers already in the country.

The peacekeeping force will be made up of 11,200 military personnel and 1,440 police officers, making it the third largest, after those in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Darfur in Sudan.

An anonymous United Nations official reportedly told reporters after the Security Council meeting that the peacekeeping force will cost up to $800m a year which will push the budget of the world governing body high.

The parameters within which the new peacekeeping force will operate include protecting key population centers, especially in the north of Mali and to deter threats, initiate and actively take active effective steps to prevent the return of armed elements to those areas it used to operate.

The peacekeeping force will be an expansion of a joint West African force already in the country which is working very hard to bring peace and stability in the country.

Mali is due to hold nationwide elections in July this year of which France said is a step in right direction in bringing peace to the country but gave a stern warning that the country should be free from militants before elections are conducted.

The Tuareg rebels who supported France against the militants in the north has said that they will only put their arms down after a negotiation with the government and not putting arms down before negations.

This new peacekeeping force will be deploy to the country in July but will go early enough before the elections to make sure that the elections is not marred with violence.

Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa News                                          

Mali Conflict: Tuareg rebels reject disarmament talks before elections in July

The Tuareg rebels have rejected disarmament talks before elections in July in Mali

The Tuareg rebels have rejected disarmament talks with the French Government before elections in July in Mali

The separatist Malian Tuareg rebels who started the insurgency in Mali have dismissed France’s call to disarm the group before the July schedule elections in the country.

France backed proposal by the interim government to hold elections in July this year but cautioned that the country should be free of armed groups before the elections.

But the rebels vowed to fight to death if Malian troops enter areas under they control currently in the West African nation.

The group accused Malian troops of carrying arbitrary killings of civilians during the heat of the insurgency and vowed thereof not to allow Malian troops enter its territory.

It is believe that the Tuareg rebels still controls some parts of the country but analysts say the group supported French and African Union troops to oust militants in the north of the country.

The group according to local reporters in Kidal is looking for autonomy and was in France to negotiate with the former colonial master of the country for a roadmap to their demands.

The group vice-president Mahamadou Djeri Maiga who met the French government told reporters in the French capital Paris that France had a moral obligation to force the interim Malian government to the negotiating table to flesh out a deal that would create a framework for autonomy in the north and provide international guarantees.

“Holding elections just when the Malian army is threatening to enter Kidal is not realistic, have you ever seen a group disarm before negotiations take place? Mr. Maiga asked.

“It’s a war that is imminent not elections. If France allows the Malian army to attack us in Kidal, then we will defend ourselves to the death”, he continued.

He also said it the primary responsibility for Paris to pressure Bamako to come to the negotiation table with them to determine the next direction of the nation.

“France knows our position. We will not accept disarming without a consensus between us and the Malian government…We have to be shown what we will get tomorrow and who will guarantee it, France is running Mali, It must put pressure on Bamako”, he concluded.

He however failed to give details about his mission on how far the negotiation went with the French government.

Analysts have warned that an election in Mali could lead fresh unrest and north-south conflict in the West African nation.

Hundreds of thousands of Malians have been displaced by the fighting and the north remains vulnerable to guerrilla-style counter attacks from militants.

The African Union troops in the country is expected to become the backbone for a proposed 11,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission the French government proposed as it has started withdrawing its forces from the country.

Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa News

Nigeria Baga attack: Army seizes heavy weapons from militants

The Nigerian army have seized heavy weapons from the militant group Boko Haram

The Nigerian army have seized heavy weapons from the militant group Boko Haram

The Nigerian army has confirmed that it has seized heavy weapons from the militant group Boko Haram in a terrific clash between the military and the militants in the Bono State town of Baga over the weekend.

The army statement released said rocket-propelled grenade launchers had been recovered, along with bomb-making material and other dangerous weapons used in the attack by the militants.

It is believed that this is the first time Boko Haram is using heavy weapons in an open attack against the military.

Local residents said on Monday that at least 185 people were killed in the fighting which started on Friday till Sunday morning.

The military initially declined to comment on the issue making the situation very difficult to verify the official casualties in the attack.

The military finally broke their silence and confirmed that 37 people were killed given the breakdown to be 30 members of the Boko Haram group, one soldier and 6 civilians.

But the Red Cross has backed local residents who say the figure is higher than what the military has put out to be the number of casualties in the attack.

The Red Cross also added that it is still trying to gain access to send more personnel to help those affected by the violence.

Residents still insist that the town is still under siege by the military and also accused the federal government of neglecting them.

“Baga is still under military siege… The town is at a standstill, with little food and water, which has forced even those of us that stayed behind to start leaving’’, a resident told reporters.

One resident who spoke on the BBC Focus on Africa program also complained bitterly about how the government has treated them since the incident.

“When the Boston was bombed and 3 people died, President Obama cried for only the death of 3 people but in Nigeria, 100 people will be killed and nobody says nothing’’, he said.

“A lot of our people have not returned since the incident, we are afraid, the town look like a ghost-town to some of us, there is an extreme fear in this town’’, another resident also voiced out to reporters.

This latest crisis comes after President Goodluck Jonathan officially backed an amnesty talks with the militants by setting up a committee to start talks with the militants.

The committee will consider dialogue and disarmament in 60 days after which the report of the committee will be implemented.

The committee is made up of 25 members include military figures, academicians and politicians who primary duty will be to address the underlying causes of insurgencies and to find solutions to prevent them recurring again.

It is unclear what the government will do next whether to continue the amnesty talks with the militants or to stop and resort to force as a result of this latest development.

Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa News 

Nigeria Baga attack: Residents accuse government of neglect amid reports of many still missing

Residents of Baga have accused the federal government of total neglect in the face of killing of 185 people over the weekend

Residents of Baga have accused the federal government of total neglect in the face of killing of 185 people over the weekend

Residents of Baga in the Nigerian northern state of Bono have accused the government of total neglect in the face of killing of 185 people in the town by militants Boko Haram.

Local residents said 185 people mostly civilians were killed in an intense fighting between the military and the militant group Boko Haram.

They said heavy weapons were used with Rocket-propelled grenades and heavy gunfire bombarding the town which forced many to flee to the bush to seek refuge.

But the government since the incidents has not commented on the incident nor sent any condolence to those who have lost their love ones, the residents say.

One resident who spoke on the BBC Focus on Africa program complained bitterly about how the government has treated them since the incident.

“When the Boston was bombed and 3 people died, President Obama cried for only the death of 3 people but in Nigeria, 100 people will be killed and nobody says nothing’’, he said.

The Bono State military spokesman Lt Col Sagir Musa earlier on told the Agence France Presse that the figure had been exaggerated.

Reporters also quoted an anonymous source from the Bono State military command on late Tuesday as saying that only one soldier died in the attack but failed to give an account of civilian casualties.

But an in-depth report which was carried in the town by the BBC Hausa Service revealed that indeed there were lots of casualties with residents confirming to have buried scores of them.

Meanwhile, residents say there are still score of people who are still missing since the incident occurred beginning from Friday.

“A lot of our people have not returned since the incident, we are so afraid, the town look like a ghost-town to some of us, there is an extreme fear in this area’’, a resident voiced out.

This latest attack comes after President Goodluck Jonathan officially backed an amnesty talks with the militants by setting up a committee to start talks with the militants.

The committee will consider dialogue and disarmament in 60 days after which the report of the committee will be implemented.

The committee is made up of 25 members include military figures, academicians and politicians who primary duty will be to address the underlying causes of insurgencies and to find solutions to prevent them recurring again.

Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa News