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Cameroon – Just hours ahead of a summit, the Islamists carried out another brazen attack, this time killing one Chinese worker and kidnapping 10 others in Cameroon -- underlining the regional threat posed by the group Boko Haram. Militants stormed an encampment used by Chinese road workers late on the 16 May 14 in a region of northern Cameroon just across the border from the town where they abducted the girls a month ago. "The Boko Haram militants were heavily armed, they came in five vehicles," an official in Waza, a town near the site of the attack. He said the camp where the Chinese road workers stayed was usually guarded by soldiers from Cameroon's elite Rapid Intervention Battalion, but many of the troops were in Yaounde for a military parade. "Cameroonian soldiers retaliated and the fighting lasted for some time”. A source close to the Chinese embassy in the Cameroonian capital Yaounde spoke of 10 missing and one wounded but would not confirm or deny whether one had been killed.
Cameroon/Chad – The presidents of Cameroon and Chad met on the 22 May 14 to map out ways to combat the Islamist group Boko Haram, which has extended its violence from Nigeria to its neighbours. Presidents Paul Biya and Idriss Deby were also to examine security reports that some weapons used by Boko Haram came from Libya through Chad. The two leaders said they were meeting to fine-tune plans and reiterate the commitments they made in Paris on the 17 May 14 to wage war against Boko Haram. Colonel Didier Badjeck, spokesperson for Cameroon's military, says the two governments were committed more than ever to fight Boko Haram alongside Nigerian forces. "We cannot be indifferent when our brothers and sisters live in permanent fear from those who have taken upon themselves to use violence on everyone instead of a spiritual rearmament they claim to bring," he said. Nyambelle Elvis, a Chadian expert on security issues, says the presidents of Chad and Cameroon had agreed to allow their forces to cross into the territories of each country in pursuit of terrorists and armed groups. He says there are accords that authorize security forces from the two countries to pursue "havoc wreakers" up to 30 kilometres from the border. He adds it was therefore necessary to reinforce that measure and increase mixed patrols in the border area. Nyambelle Elvis cites intelligence reports that Boko Haram has received sophisticated weapons from the Middle East and the Maghreb through Sudan and Chad to Nigeria and Cameroon. He said weapons also came in from Libya and that training of Boko Haram members took place in Mali when Islamist militants controlled the north of that country.
Djibouti – At least two people were killed in an attack on a restaurant popular with Westerners in Djibouti it was reported on the 24 May 14. Grenades were thrown at La Chaumiere restaurant in the capital of the Horn of Africa country. On the 27 May 14 al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack and warned there would be more to come. The terrorist group urged Djibouti to expel foreigners and shut down the US military base in Africa or else face more attacks. Djibouti, a former French colony, is home to US and French military bases and also contributes troops to the African Union force fighting al-Shabaab militants in Somalia. Its port is also used by foreign navies protecting the Gulf of Aden's shipping lanes from Somali pirates. However, if it the attack was carried out by al-Shabaab then the terrorist group is expanding its operations further from Kenya and Uganda.
Kenya – On the 16 May 14 there were reports of two explosions in the area of Gikomba market in Niarobi. Earlier in the week prior to the incidents the authorities had tightened security at bus stations and had decreed an order that vehicles should have clear glass windows in order to stop terrorists using these types of vehicles and to stop them placing devices on public transport. The explosions occurred two days after the countries of the United Kingdom, France and the United States warned of an increase of terrorism near tourist locations and would likely include westerners. Although the twin explosions are nothing to do with this new terrorist warning as the operation the three governments were referring to would be probably much larger and give the terrorists a huge publicity line in news and media outlets.
In a statement broadcast on an allied radio station on 22 May 14, senior Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen commander Fuad Muhammad Khalaf (alias Shangole) stated that the group's insurgency "will be shifting to Kenya" and urged all Muslims in the country to fight the government. The statement came after over 50 militants were killed during Kenyan military air strikes targeting Al-Shabaab positions near the town of Jilib in Somalia's Jubbada Dhexe region on 20 May 14. The statement also claimed responsibility for an ambush on a Kenyan military convoy that killed at least 12 people in Mandera County in Kenya's North Eastern province on 19 May.
Libya – Libya's government had insisted it was still in control of the worsening security situation, even as an al-Qaeda-inspired group vowed to fight troops loyal to a renegade general behind an attack on the country's parliament on the 18 May 14. Gunmen launched an attack on the parliament in the capital Tripoli and demanded its suspension and an airport in the Eastern city of Benghazi came under rocket attack early on the 19 May 14. Later on (19 May 14) the al-Qaeda-inspired Lions of Monotheism Group said it would fight forces apparently loyal to a renegade Libyan general, Khalifa Hifter, after they attacked parliament and suspended its activities. It is believed that Libya's army chief had ordered the deployment of the group, compounding the issue voiced by Hifter of unofficial armed groups being used by the government to enforce laws. Hifter is a one-time rebel commander who said the US backed his efforts to topple Muammar Gaddafi in the 1990s. He says his group is taking on some of Libya's most hard-line groups, and blames the government for not doing more to tackle them. Hours before the parliamentary suspension, members of an armed group backed by truck-mounted anti-aircraft guns, mortars and rocket fire attacked parliament. Early on the 19 May 14 the violence escalated as unknown attackers fired rockets at Benina airport in Libya's second-largest city of Benghazi. Authorities had closed the airport on the 16 May 14 for security reasons. Libya has been struggling with chaos as its government, parliament and nascent armed forces are unable to impose their authority over brigades of former rebels and militias who helped oust Gaddafi in 2011 but now defy the state. Saudi Arabia announced on the 19 May 14 that it was closing its embassy and consulate in Tripoli and withdrawing its entire diplomatic staff, citing security concerns. Farnana, who is in charge of prisons operated by the military police, said forces loyal to Hifter carried out the attack on the 18 May 14 attack on parliament and said the attack on parliament was not a coup, but "fighting by the people's choice". Officials believe members of the al-Qaaqaa and Sawaaq militias, the largest in the capital, backed Hifter even though they operate under a government mandate. Al-Qaaqaa posted a statement on its official Facebook page saying it attacked parliament with Sawaaq because politicians supported "terrorism".
Islamist-led militias flowed into Libya’s capital on the 22 May 14 to protect the Islamist-dominated parliament against a renegade general’s offensive. Libya’s Central Shield militia were seen by residents as they took position among army stations near the airport highway in Tripoli’s south. The militia from the country’s western city of Misrata are under the command of Libya’s chief of staff, who reports to the parliament. The Libyan government urged all militias to withdraw from Tripoli and stay out of politics. The cabinet “issued an appeal to the chiefs of all armed brigades in Greater Tripoli” to leave the city and steer clear of politics. The interim parliament, meanwhile, announced that the country will hold legislative elections on the 25 Jun 14. Dozens of people have been killed since General Khalifa Haftar’s offensive began on the 16 Jun 14 demanding that Libya’s government hands power to the country’s top judges, and calling for the formation of a Presidential Council to take over from parliament, oversee elections and hand power after a nationwide vote to a new legislature. Haftar’s campaign against Islamists won the support of many government officials and military units. Hi alliance now includes the military intelligence, police forces and the air force. Libyan jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, blacklisted as a terrorist organization by Washington, vowed Tuesday to defend its stronghold in Benghazi against Haftar’s expanding alliance. The group charged that a deadly assault in the eastern city on Friday that mainly targeted its forces was “a war against ... Islam orchestrated by the United States and its Arab allies.”
The leader of Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia in Libya's Benghazi city warned the United States on the 27 May 14 against interference or it would face worse than the conflicts in Somalia, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Libya's young democracy is in turmoil three years after the NATO-backed war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, with rival Islamist, anti-Islamist, regional and political factions locked in a complex struggle for influence in the OPEC member state. Ansar al-Sharia, listed as a foreign terrorist organisation by Washington, was accused of orchestrating the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died. Mohamed Zahawi, head of the Benghazi brigade of Ansar al-Sharia, accused the US government of backing renegade former general Khalifa Haftar, who has begun a self-declared campaign to purge Libya of Islamist militants. "We remind America, if they intervene, of their defeats in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, because they would face in Libya something much worse," he said in a statement. "It was America who urged Haftar to turn the country towards war and bloodshed." Ansar al-Sharia also runs a network of social services in the city and has operated its own checkpoints.
The US state department has warned any American citizens in Libya to leave the country immediately. It said the situation in the country remained unpredictable and unstable. On the 27 May 14 the US said it was sending a warship carrying around 1,000 marines to the region for any possible evacuation of American officials. Concern over the situation in Libya has increased after a renegade general launched an assault against Islamist militias in Benghazi. The unstable situation has led the US to call for its citizens to leave the troubled country as soon as possible. "US citizens currently in Libya should exercise extreme caution and depart immediately," the state department said on the 27 May 14. It warned against all but essential travel to Tripoli and against any travel outside the Libyan capital.
Mali – Mali’s defence ministry said on the 22 May 14 that 30 soldiers were killed in clashes with Tuareg separatists, who claimed to have seized several towns in the north of the country. The army had launched an offensive to retake control of the separatist stronghold of Kidal after clashes erupted while Prime Minister Moussa Mara was visiting the town on the 17 May 14. Tuareg separatists repulsed the attempt on the 21 May and on the 22 May 14 and said they had taken more northern towns without a fight after government troops either abandoned their positions and sought refuge at the camps of the U.N. peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, or fled south, Reuters reported. “We now control Anefis, Aguelhok, Tessalit, Menaka, Ansongo, Anderamboukane and Lere,” Attaye Ag Mohamed, an official with the Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) stated. Mali’s government issued a statement on the 21 May 14 ordering an immediate ceasefire. It said that, while its troops initially held the upper hand, they were weakened by coordination and intelligence problems. A parliamentarian from the region, Algabass Ag Intallah, said Malian troops had pulled out of several towns and a Malian military source said the army was withdrawing from areas where it was outnumbered. The military failure is a setback for President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s government and threatens to sink a struggling process to resolve the cycle of Tuareg rebellions in the north. Mali was plunged into chaos in 2012 after Tuareg independence fighters teamed up with groups teamed up with groups linked to al Qaeda to seize the north following a coup in the capital. When they were sidelined by the better-equipped Islamists, the separatists broke with their allies. A French-led military operation then drove the Islamists back last year.
Nigeria – Nigeria and its neighbours on the 17 May 14 vowed to work together to combat Boko Haram in what Cameroon President Paul Biya described as a declaration of war on the Islamic militants. Meeting in Paris, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and his counterparts from Benin, Chad, Cameroon and Niger approved an action plan designed to counter an organisation blamed for 2,000 deaths this year alone and which has caused global outrage with its abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls. The action plan may involve coordination of surveillance efforts, the sharing of intelligence and joint efforts to secure the porous borders in the region. The West African countries have also been promised help in the form of surveillance tools and expert advice from Britain, France and the United States as they seek to combat a group that it is believed had forged links with terrorist groups all over Africa.
On the 19 may 14 Boko Haram said it was prepared to release up to half the schoolgirls it kidnapped in Nigeria in Apr 14, and has dropped demands for its imprisoned commanders to be released, sources close to the Nigerian government were claiming. The Islamist group said it would begin releasing the 200 schoolgirls it kidnapped in exchange for the release of incarcerated militants. In a concession, the group now seems to accept that it would be politically impossible for the Nigerian government to release top commanders which was one of the groups major demands. The list now includes wives, girlfriends and some lower-level fighters. If this agreement was to go ahead the release of up to a hundred girls at a time would take place but in small groups. The group up to this point have had it all its own way. But with other nations sending in terrorist experts and the African countries declaring war on the group they are not so sure of themselves. The war declaration may upset Boko Haram and decide that it should include other points to negotiate. The new force being put together in the country will no doubt not be in a rush to resolve this problem. They will take their time and ensure that all is correct before preparing plans to not only release as many girls as possible but also strike at the terrorist group to ensure that they do not return. The operation will probably be similar to that of Operation Barras where the British Special Air Service released a group of British soldiers from the West Side Boys in Sierra Leone during Sep 2000. After the successful operation the group no longer functioned.
The Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) claimed responsibility on 19 May 14 for an improvised explosive device (IED) attack the previous day on the pipeline terminating at the Refinery Jetty in Okrika, Port Harcourt. The Refinery Jetty belongs to the state agency, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). MEND asserted that "the attack is in line with [its] ongoing operation 'Hurricane Exodus'". The group said that the attack was intended to destroy the entire oil facility; however, the IED attack only damaged the pipeline but resulted in at least seven deaths. MEND launched its operation Hurricane Exodus in Apr 13 to pressure President Goodluck Jonathan, a native of Bayelsa state in the Niger Delta, to review and extend the Amnesty programme established in 2009 to demobilise and rehabilitate the assorted armed militant groups.
In an interview with CBS News, a Boko Haram member calling himself Saleh Abubakar stated that the kidnapped girls would be held until the Nigerian government released the group's fighters currently in prison it was reported on the 20 May 14. The kidnapping operation, which involved some 60 vehicles, was well planned. According to Abubakar, Boko Haram planned the operation for three months prior to its launch. Chillingly in the interview, Abubakar warned that Boko Haram intends to conduct more kidnapping operations targeting schoolgirls.
On the 21 May 14 the Homeland Security Newsletter wrote that U.S. officials have been unusually frank – and unusually public -- in their assessment of the competence and effectiveness of the Nigerian military. The officials presented their analysis last Thursday (15 May 14), when they were questioned by lawmakers about whether the Nigerian military was capable of rescuing – or even locating – the more than 260 girls abducted by Boko Haram last month. U.S. military and intelligence officials said that even with international help, the Nigerian military was too corrupt and too incompetent to play a meaningful role in rescuing the girls. “We’re now looking at a military force that’s, quite frankly, becoming afraid to even engage,” Alice Friend, the Pentagon’s principal director for African affairs, said of the Nigerian military. “The Nigerian military has the same challenges with corruption that every other institution in Nigeria does. Much of the funding that goes to the Nigerian military is skimmed off the top, if you will.” There is another obstacle to U.S. military help to Nigeria: Friend told lawmakers that finding Nigerian army units which have not been involved in gross violations of human rights has been a “persistent and very troubling limitation” on American efforts to work with the Nigerian military.
The UN Security Council has approved sanctions against the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, five weeks after it kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls it was announced on the 23 May 13. It will now be added to a list of al-Qaeda-linked organisations subject to an arms embargo and asset freeze. US envoy Samantha Power said it was an "important step" in support of efforts to "defeat Boko Haram and hold its murderous leadership accountable". Analysts say it is hard to say what practical effect the move will have. "Boko Haram commanders and their leaders do not travel with passports, they travel on the ground in hijacked vehicles; they don't have any formal assets that anyone can point to - it is not a formal organisation," Omoyele Sowore of Nigeria's citizen journalism wrote on her website. Boko Haram was earlier blamed for the deaths of 27 people in a north-eastern village on the 21 May 14 a day after twin bombings killed 122 in the central city of Jos. The authorities suspect Boko Haram of being behind them, but at the time of writing there had been no claim from the group. Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan is due to travel to South Africa for discussions with other African heads of state on combating terrorism in Africa following on from last weekend's summit hosted by France.
At least 31 security personnel have been killed following an attack on a military base in Nigeria by Boko Haram fighters it was reported on the 27 May 14. The attack on the base in the northeast Nigerian town of Buni Yadi in Yobe State happened not far from where the group shot or burned to death 59 students at a boarding school in Feb 14. One person stated that the fighters arrived in an armoured personnel carrier and six Hilux trucks before dismounting and firing into the air. They then torched the home of local government leader and several government buildings before turning their guns on an empty primary school. The terrorist group becomes bolder by each attack and seems to act with impunity.
Also see by Paul Ashley: http://www.fairobserver.com/region/africa/boko-haram-mocking-goodluck-jonathans-government-46936/
Somalia – Islamist militants from the al-Shabaab movement have attacked the Somali parliament in Mogadishu, leaving at least 10 people dead it was reported on the 24 may 14. Al-Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, once controlled large areas of Somalia but was pushed out of major cities in 2011 and 2012. However, it is still able to mount complex attacks. It has frequently targeted the UN-backed parliament. A car bomb exploded outside the gates of parliament followed by more blasts and bursts of gunfire. The attackers then stormed the front of the parliament building as security forces fired back. An al-Shabab spokesman stated: "The so-called Somali parliament is a military zone. Our fighters are there to carry out a holy operation."
Tunisia – Interim Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa asserted, on the 25 May 14 that the security services foiled a terrorist attack targeting personalities, economic targets and tourist institutions. The security forces have sufficient means to foil any terrorist plot, he said in a statement to the media, at the end of a security meeting in the Aouina barrack. Those that were arrested were believed to be in possession of large quantities of explosive belts which would indicate that whichever group carrying out the attacks would have used suicide bombers. The National Guard and the Army organised this operation to foil a terrorist plan prepared by elements infiltrated from Libya. These munitions were hidden in a location 6 km from the city of Ben Guerdane (west area). Thirteen other members of the group were arrested in recent days. It was believed by Tunisian authorities that these terrorists are supported by Libyan armed groups and Tunisians in Libya who are planning attacks in Tunisia. It is not known who the terrorists are supposed to belong to. Either an off-shoot of al-Qaeda or a new group attempting to stamp their mark in Tunisia.