Libya/Da’esh – Thirty-two fighters loyal to Libya’s unity government were killed in clashes with ISIS militants and a car bombing on the 18 May 16 near the ISIS stronghold of Sirte, the military said. “The toll of today’s martyrs reached 32, and 50 others were injured,” the operations room set up by the new Government of National Unity (GNA) said on its Facebook page and Twitter account late on the 18 May 16 updating an earlier toll of 18 dead. Of the earlier toll, seven died in a car bomb attack in Buairat el-Hassun, 60 kilometres (35 miles) west of Sirte and the others were killed in an IS foray in Abu Grein, further west, that the GNA recaptured on the 17 May 16. Recently, the power vacuum has allowed ISIS radicals to expand their presence, giving them a potential base in a country separated from Europe only by a relatively small stretch of the Mediterranean Sea. In a related story, bank guards shot dead three people as they tried to disperse a crowd of hundreds of people queuing for cash outside a bank in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Wednesday, a security official said. Libyan banks have been suffering from severe liquidity problems, which bankers say is partly caused by people withdrawing cash and keeping it at home due to concerns over security. For months, long queues have formed daily outside banks across the country, and in some cases people have begun queuing overnight. Banks have placed limits on withdrawals, with residents in the capital currently restricted to taking out a maximum of 200 Libyan dinars at a time. That is the equivalent of about $145 at the official exchange rate, but just $50 at black market rates. Wednesday’s shooting happened outside the North Africa Bank in Tripoli's Qaser Bin Ghasir neighbourhood, said Salah Eddin Al-Marghani, a security official for southern Tripoli. Libya’s economy has been severely damaged due to political strife and conflict following the uprising against Qaddafi in 2011. The country is largely dependent on oil revenues, but these have slumped as prices have fallen and labour disputes, factional rivalries and militant attacks have slashed production.
Libya – Forces loyal to Libya's UN-backed unity government pushed the Da’esh terror group fighters back towards their stronghold of Sirte on the 18 May 16 regaining more ground they had lost to the militants earlier this month, a military spokesman said. In a televised statement from the streets of Abu Grain, spokesman Mohamed Al Gasri said the forces had "liberated" the small town and two nearby villages after heavy fighting. Western powers are counting on the new government to unify Libya's political and armed factions to take on Da’esh. The government arrived in Tripoli in late Mar 16 and is still trying to establish its authority. Da’esh gained control over Sirte in 2015 and has built up its most important base outside Syria and Iraq in the Libyan coastal city. However, it has struggled to hold on to territory elsewhere in Libya. Da’esh militants overran the town of Abu Grain and several villages after staging suicide attacks against checkpoints in the area on the 5 May 16. The unity government then created a new operations room in Misrata, which announced a campaign to recapture Sirte. Abu Grain is about 140 kilometres west of Sirte and about 100 kilometres south of Misrata. They now also control the villages of Abu Najaym and Zamzam, Gasri said. "We declare the completion of the first stage of Al Bonyan Al Marsous after we pushed the militants of Da’esh back to the outskirts of Sirte," he said, referring to the name the operations room gave to the campaign for Sirte. A report published on the 18 May 16 by campaign group Human Rights Watch found that Da’esh in Sirte had unlawfully executed at least 49 people accused of offences including spying, sorcery, and blasphemy over one year from Feb 15. It quoted a military intelligence officer in Misrata as saying Da’esh had some 1,800 fighters in Sirte and that at least 70 per cent of them were foreign. Some two-thirds of the city's residents have fled, the report said.
Mali – Five United Nations peacekeepers were killed and one other seriously injured in an ambush in central Mali on the 29 May 16 the United Nations said. A convoy of soldiers in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was attacked 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Sevare, the UN said. The nationalities of the soldiers were not released and so far no group had taken responsibility for the attack. It comes 10 days after five MINUSMA peacekeepers from Chad were killed in an ambush in the northern region of Kidal. Two days ago five Malian soldiers were killed near the town of Gao. "I condemn in the strongest terms this despicable crime," said MINUSMA head Mahamat Saleh Annadif, adding that it constituted "crimes against humanity under international law". MINUSMA and French forces have been stationed in northern Mali for three years since separatists joined jihadists to seize the region from the government in Bamako. The militants have staged a series of high profile attacks in the past year, mainly in the north of the country, but also in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. A peace accord signed last year was meant to bring stability to the region, but attacks against the UN mission, Malian military and civilians are still frequent.
Mozambique – Two decades after the end of Mozambique's bloody civil war, residents of one region are living in fear and uncertainty once again it was reported on the 26 May 16. Security forces are trying to quell a conflict with fighters in Gorongosa region believed to be linked to Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO), the rebel group that fought a 16-year war against the state that ended with a peace treaty in 1992 and later became an opposition party. Last year, RENAMO leader Afonso Dhlakama claimed that the October 2014 general elections, in which the ruling FRELIMO party won an easy victory, were rigged and went into hiding in the mountains of Gorongosa. Soon after fighters believed to be linked to him started shooting at cars and killing civilians. Tensions between the security forces and Renamo members intensified in Dec 15 after Dhlakama announced plans to take power in six of the country's 11 provinces. Now, the roads in to Gorongosa are constantly monitored. People can only travel in convoys guarded by security forces, because most highways that are leading into the region are ambush hot spots. "It’s dangerous because if they want to attack they’ll attack anyone," Ray Phiri, a traveller trying to reach Gorongosa said. A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva said in Apr 16 that the agency had "received worrying information about ongoing armed clashes in Mozambique between national security forces and members of RENAMO." The spokesman said that the security forces had been accused of "summary executions, looting, destruction of property, rape, ill-treatment, and other human rights violations" and that "at least 14 local RENAMO officials" had been reported killed or abducted since the beginning of the year. In Apr 16 farmers in the Gorongosa region said they had found a mass grave containing 120 bodies. The killings are believed to be connected to a military crackdown on RENAMO. The district administrator immediately denied the existence of such a mass grave. "The authorities investigated the story - and found nothing," he said. Visiting the region only weeks after the alleged discovery of the first mass grave, Al Jazeera's Tania Page saw decomposing bodies lying under a bridge on a main road. "It's quite clear that someone’s stopped here and threw the bodies off the bridge," she said. "We don’t know who they are, how they died or why. "These are uncertain times in Mozambique. Former civil war enemies are fighting again, innocent civilians are caught in the crossfire, and fear has taken hold."
RENAMO was founded in 1976, one year after Mozambique gained independence, and is led by Afonso Dhlakama. The organisation followed an anti-communist ideology and thus opposed the ruling Marxist-leaning party: FRELIMO. RENAMO gained sympathisers from neighbouring white minority regimes such as the Apartheid government of South Africa and colonial Rhodesia. Its aim was to destabilise FRELIMO and gain greater representation in government by means of guerrillas engaging in deadly sabotage operations. The deteriorating relationship between RENAMO and FRELIMO escalated into a 15 year civil war (1977-1992). In spite of the civil war, or perhaps because of it, RENAMO has failed to seize power within Mozambique. The civil war came to an end with a General Peace Agreement (GPA) between the government of Mozambique and RENAMO and was followed by multi-party elections in 1994. RENAMO lost to FRELIMO, but gained legislative seats and became the official opposition party in Mozambique. Mozambique National Resistance Movement (RENAMO), also known as Resistência Nacional Moçambicana is an inactive group formed in 1976.
Zambia – President Edgar Lungu of Zambia has expressed serious concerns over Iran’s attempts to make headway in Africa to spread its sectarian ideology. “These attempts are a source of serious concern for the African leaders,” Lungu told Okaz/Saudi Gazette in an exclusive interview. The Zambian president was in Saudi Arabia on an official visit during which he held talks with Saudi King Salman and senior Saudi officials on the 22 May 16. Lungu called for an immediate halt to Iran’s machinations in the region and asked Muslims to sit together to settle their differences lest they might destroy each other. “We should stay away from sectarianism. We all believe in the same God. We should all be tolerant. Our message is peace. We should stay away from anything that might disturb peace or create turmoil,” he said. Lungu also condemned the Russian protection to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. “There is no reason for Russia to destroy Syria under the pretext of protecting the regime,” he said. He called for putting an immediate end to the killings of innocent people especially women and children in Syria and said all African leaders are looking forward to an immediate cessation of hostilities and destruction in this Arab country. The Zambian president called for amending the statute of the UN and the Security Council so that small countries will not feel the hegemony of the big powers. Lungu said his talks with King Salman on the 22 May 16 focused on bilateral relations, regional and international issues and the current developments in the region, particularly Syria and Yemen. “Saudi Arabia is playing a pivotal role in resolving these two crises and we support and encourage him,” he added. The president was sure the Houthi rebels in Yemen will come back to the negotiating table and pointed out that all crises in the world, even the World War Two, were resolved through negotiations. Lungu expressed his worries over extremist activities in Africa, especially by Boko Haram of Nigeria, and said the continent wants peace and stability. “A reason of my visit to the Kingdom is to have a firsthand assessment of its experiment in combating terrorism,” he explained. He considered religious extremism to be a major cause of extremism and said they should not be allowed to steal religion to promote their agenda. “In Zambia we also have extremists and we are trying to face this challenge through close cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the United States,” he said.