Central African Republic (CAR) – Rival armed groups in the Central African Republic have signed a ceasefire agreement aimed at ending over a year of religious conflict open source material reported on the 24 Jul 14. The agreement was signed in Congo-Brazzaville between mainly Muslim Seleka rebels and the largely Christian anti-Balaka militia. As part of the deal, the Seleka dropped their demand for CAR's partition. Muslims had been forced to flee the capital city and most of the west of the country, in what rights groups described as ethnic cleansing along with both sides being accused of war crimes such as torture and unlawful killing. The negotiations began in the Congolese capital of Brazzaville on the 21 Jul 14. "We have signed this ceasefire agreement today in front of everyone. Our commitment is firm and irreversible" said Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, who headed the Seleka delegation. Patrick Edouard Ngaissona, head of the anti-Balaka negotiating team, said anyone caught violating the ceasefire would be arrested. The Seleka rebels dropped their demand for CAR to be divided into a Muslim north and a Christian south. Further talks are due to be held in CAR to decide details such as disarmament and the country's political transition. The latest violence in CAR began when mainly Muslim rebels seized power in Mar 13. The majority Christian state then descended into ethno-religious warfare.
CAR's religious make-up
Christians - 50%
Muslims - 15%
Indigenous beliefs - 35%
Source: Index Mundi
Rival vigilante militias in the Central African Republic have clashed with heavy weapons overnight in the capital Bangui it was reported on the 9 Aug 14. Although the gunfire had subsided in the afternoon the situation remained tense in a northern suburb of Bangui, where the fighting took place. The anti-balaka, forces were thought to be responsible which is one of the main Christian vigilante groups. The "anti-balaka" (anti-machete) forces were formed following the overthrow of President Francois Bozize by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition in Mar 13. The Seleka carried out a campaign of violence against the majority Christian community in the aftermath of the takeover, prompting the creation of the vigilante militia. An officer with an African Union peacekeeping force said its soldiers had been deployed to the entrances of the troubled suburb. A traditional stronghold of the anti-balaka militia, Boy-Rabe has for months been the scene of numerous clashes between the Christian militia and the Seleka coalition, which held power from Mar 13 until Jan 14 when a power-sharing agreement was signed.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – An attack on the military barracks of the presidential guards in Kinshasa had been repulsed, the Democratic Republic of Congo government has said on the 23 Jul 14. Heavy gunfire earlier rang out from Camp Tshatshi for about 30 minutes. DR Congo has a history of instability, with President Joseph Kabila taking power following the assassination of his father, Laurent, in 2001. The authorities have not said who was behind the attack. Residents were evacuated from the area around Camp Tshatshi and the international airport was reportedly closed. An attack on Camp Tshatshi was also repulsed in Dec 13. That was blamed on followers of Paul Joseph Mukungubila, a Christian leader and self-proclaimed prophet, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2006.
Egypt – Terrorists attacked a police checkpoint near a Mediterranean resort area frequented by Egyptian holidaymakers, killing five policemen and losing four of their own in the ensuing gun battle, the Interior Ministry said on the 6 Aug 14. Egypt has seen a rise in militant attacks since the ousted Islamist president and a crackdown on his supporters in Jul 13. The latest attack occurred took place late on the 5 Aug 14 in the Dhabaa area in the coastal province of Matrouh.
Kenya – Al-Shabaab has said it carried out a deadly bus attack on Kenya's coast. In a statement on the 19 Jul 14 the Somalia-based group said the attack near Witu in Lamu Country was "a clear response to the government of Kenya's false claim that they beefed up security in the area". The group's military spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab said that the group was "ready to act or attack anywhere necessary within Kenya". About 100 people have been killed in attacks on Kenya's coast since mid-June. The al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab has claimed many of the attacks but the Kenyan government has suggested local politicians were also behind them.
On the 21 Jul 14 it was reported that at least four people were killed and several others injured in a shooting rampage in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa. Witnesses said two attackers shot at people indiscriminately on the edge of Kenya's second-largest city and scattered leaflets stating that the attack on the 20 Jul 14 was retribution for last month's raid on Mpeketoni, a town about 300km north of Mombasa. Witnesses said that two masked men toting a rifle and a pistol haphazardly shot at passersby’s. Two men were dressed in black with a red ribbon around their heads and were walking on foot and were just shooting carelessly at anyone they saw. The latest attack will further dent Kenya's beleaguered tourist industry after a wave of deadly attacks and will deepen public frustrations about poor security. About 50 people were killed when gunmen raided Mpeketoni in Lamu County, a coastal region where about 100 people in total have died since mid-June in a series of ambushes and raids. Somalia's al-Shabaab fighters have claimed responsibility for many of the attacks but the government, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, has suggested local politicians were behind the incidents. Kenya is not the only African country who is accusing its politicians of being behind terrorist attacks. Nigeria has also expressed thoughts on politician s attempting to gain political points by giving the terrorists information and supporting them.
Libya – Islamist-led militiamen had stepped up their assault on Libya's main airport, controlled by rival fighters. The fighting, which erupted on the 13 Jul 14 and shut Tripoli international airport also injured 120 people. The European Union condemned a fresh outbreak of violence on the 20 Jul 14 two days after the collapse of a truce with the militia controlling the airport. A coalition of militias led by Islamist fighters launched an assault on the airport on the 20 Jul with clashes later spreading along the road to the capital. By the evening, fighting had subsided around the airport. But the airport was attacked during the morning of the 21 Jul with mortar rounds, rockets and tank fire which would have been an intense bombardment. The militia which controls the airport (based in Zintan, southwest of the capital, and seen by Islamists as the armed wing of liberals within the government) responded with heavy fire. Islamist militias have been joined by other armed groups, including the powerful Misrata Brigades, which played a key role in the 2011 UN-backed revolt that toppled and killed strongman Mummer Kadhafi. The fighting has halted all flights and caused extensive damage to planes and airport infrastructure, with aviation officials saying Tripoli airport could be closed for months. The rival sides are among several heavily armed militias which have held sway in the oil-producing North African nation for the past three years. The growing lawlessness in Libya has alarmed neighbouring states that fear a spill over of violence.
Libya/United States – United States military personnel evacuated the U.S. embassy in the Libyan capital of Tripoli after heavy fighting forced the State Department to order its staff out of the country it was reported on the 26 Jul 14. “Due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, we have temporarily relocated all of our personnel out of Libya,” State Department spokesman Marie Harf said in a statement. Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the evacuation took five hours to complete, “without incident.” Plans had been put in place several days ago, but the evacuation wasn’t ordered until the 26 Jul. “All embassy personnel were relocated, including the Marine security guards who were providing security at the embassy and during the movement. The embassy staff was driven in vehicles to Tunisia. During movement, F-16’s, ISR assets and an Airborne Response Force with MV-22 Ospreys provided security,” Kirby said. The embassy remains open, but the State Department also urged U.S. citizens in Libya to “depart immediately.” “Securing our facilities and ensuring the safety of our personnel are top department priorities, and we did not make this decision lightly. Security has to come first. Regrettably, we had to take this step because the location of our embassy is in very close proximity to intense fighting and ongoing violence between armed Libyan factions,” Harf said.
Nigeria – On the 18 Jul 14 reports that many people were feared dead after suspected Boko Haram Islamist gunmen attacked a town in north-east Nigeria. The town that half of Damboa had been burnt down, including the town's main market. Boko Haram attacked the barracks in the town two weeks ago, killing several soldiers.
The extremist Boko Haram sect on the 19 Jul 14 mounted its flags in Damboa town of Borno state, declaring the area its exclusive territory. Damboa local government shares a boundary with the dreaded Sambisa forest the terrorists have converted to a formidable hideout. The Boko Haram gunmen had in the early hours of the 18 Jul 14 attacked Damboa, 85 kilometres from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, killing locals and setting homes on fire. Over 45 persons were killed while homes, shops, offices and vehicles were torched. The gunmen later that day returned to launch yet another onslaught on the town at the time residents were busy picking corpses of those killed in the morning and preparing them for burial. Witnesses stated during the second attack, the gunmen did not even spare women and children as they dislodged the entire town and hoisted their flags there. A top security official in Maiduguri confirmed the Damboa attack and said flags suspected to be those of the Boko Haram sect had been hoisted there. The hoisting of flags in Damboa by the terrorists occurred as information filtered in that residents of Dile, Huyum, Lassa, Murtavu, Rimirgo and some other remote villages in Askira Uba local government area are fleeing their homes and moving into Uba town in droves. Security officials stated the residents decided to flee following a threat letter sent to them by the Boko Haram sect that they would soon be attacked. A member of the Vigilante Group, Civilian JTF, Abbas Gave, said, “The people are all fleeing in response to a letter purportedly sent to those villages that they would also be attacked. So residents of about nine major villages are now on the run.” 361 COMMENT: With their ability to roam around the north west of the country unhindered Boko Haram (BH) have decided to take a leaf out of the trouble in the north of Iraq that ISIS have created. Similarly the two groups have decided to set up their own enclave with one calling it a Caliphate. It will probably not be long before the other decides to do the same (22 Jul 14). On the 21 Jul 14 the Federal Government of Nigeria clearly stated that, “we will not concede any territory to terrorists.” (http://allafrica.com/stories/201407220115.html). If the statement is correct I refer to my opening sentence regarding the movement of BH in the area that was supposed to be under strict military control for three months and has now lasted well over a year. COMMENT ENDS
Terrorist Islamists are suspected to have blown up a major bridge (Ngala Bridge) in north-eastern Nigeria, disrupting transport links with Cameroon on the night of the 22/23 Jul 14. It was also reported that some members of the Nigerian army were AWOL because they were scared of Boko Haram this gives credence to rumours that the army is demoralised, lacks motivation and firepower to tackle the terrorists. Although seen as the largest army in West Africa and has fought in Sierra Leone the leadership of the organisation must be brought into question. It is not sure who blew the bridge up but Boko Haram had conducted this type of incident in the past so it is more than likely them. The destruction of the bridge will make it more difficult for the army to move around and cuts off the Gamboru Ngala district, where 300 people were killed in a suspected Boko Haram raid in May 14, from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. This may also be BH attempting to cut off the region in an attempt to create their own enclave such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LETTE) in Sri lanka.
A bomb blast in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna has killed at least 25 people it was reported on the 23 Jul 14. The bomb targeted moderate Islamic cleric Dahiru Bauchi, who was preaching at the time. He escaped unhurt. It is unclear who was behind the blast.
It was announced on the 24 Jul 14 that Nigeria and three other states have pledged to speed up the creation of a 2,800-strong regional force to tackle militant Islamist group Boko Haram. Defence ministers of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger said they would each contribute 700 troops to the force. Niger's Defence Minister Karidio Mahamadou said they were determined to "eradicate this curse". Boko Haram's insurgency is focused on Nigeria, but it has carried out some cross-border raids. The regional defence ministers met in Niger's capital, Niamey, on the 23 Jul 14 to hold further discussions on the growing threat posed by Boko Haram. In May 14 the four countries, whose borders meet at Lake Chad, agreed to share intelligence and coordinate border security. Unconfirmed reports say the group has also recruited fighters from Chad and Niger.
A female suicide bomber blew herself up in a college in northern Nigeria's biggest city of Kano on the 30 Jul 14 killing six people and critically wounding another six in the fourth such attack by a woman in Kano in less than a week. The bomber targeted youths who were looking at a notice board for national youth service in Kano Polytechnic. The female bomber was reportedly lined up as a student as they queued to check their names on an admission list Boko Haram later claimed responsibility for the attack. The terrorist group had repeatedly bombed Kano as it radiates attacks outwards from its northeast heartlands. Using female suicide bombers in the city appears to be a new tactic of Boko Haram, although they have used them on occasion for years in the northeast. Two female suicide bombers blew themselves up at a trade show and a petrol station in Kano on the 28 Jul 14. On the 27 Jul 14 a female suicide bomber killed herself but no one else while trying to target police officers. In a separate incident on the 29 Jul 14 two suicide bombers killed 13 people in attacks on two mosques in the town of Potiskum, in Yobe state in the northeast. Though much of the violence is concentrated in the remote northeast, Boko Haram have struck across Nigeria in several bomb attacks since Apr 14. On the 27 Jul 14 Boko Haram mounted a cross-border attack into Cameroon, killing at least three people there and kidnapping the wife of the vice prime minister. (see Cameroon report). It is unclear whether the group is recruiting female bombers or forcing kidnapped girls to carry out suicide missions. The girls may also be wearing the suicide vests without any knowledge of what they are or what they are doing. They may be instructed to walk near or go to a particular target or location and have the vest detonated remotely.
Boko Haram Islamists kidnapped scores of people from fishing communities in Nigeria's extreme northeast, hauling some of the hostages away on boats across Lake Chad it was claimed on the 16 Aug 14. Several people were also reportedly killed in the militant raids on a number of villages in the Kukawa Local Government area in Borno state, a Boko Haram stronghold. The remote area has poor mobile phone coverage, and details of the 10 Aug 14 attacks took days to emerge. "At first we thought (the attackers) were soldiers ... But when they began shooting at people and setting fire to homes we realised they were Boko Haram," said Halima Alhaji Adam, from the Doron Baga village. Adam said the militants kidnapped roughly 100 young men aged between 15 and 30 and taken into Chad. Boko Haram, which says it wants to create an Islamic state in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, has been accused of kidnapping hundreds of people in the northeast to use as conscripts, wives and slaves.
361 COMMENT: Boko Haram not only during this reporting period but also in others is operating within the Nigerian so called security net without hindrance. The Nigerian army has had no major or minor success since the clampdown in the area. Militias that have been set up in an attempt to secure their village have in the past made a successful attempt to fight off these terrorists. Which when you think about it with militias baring the minimum of arms, ammunition and with no proper leadership or command structure says a lot for the Nigerian Army and its leaders! The down side to the militias being successful is that the terrorists will return and cause more deaths in retaliation. Only time will tell but at some point this terrorist group will emulate the IS in Iraq and the AQ element operating in Libya. It remains to be seen how successful the new 2,800-strong regional force that has been put together by Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger will do when it eventually gets off the ground. COMMENT ENDS
Somalia – At least 14 people were killed and more than 20 injured as heavy fighting broke out in Mogadishu after government troops launched a dawn attack on a house belonging to a former militia leader as part of a disarmament campaign it was reported on the 15 Aug 14. Government forces want to disarm fighters loyal to Ahmed Daaci, a former militia leader and ex-district commissioner of Mogadishu's Wadajir. Launched in the first week of Aug 14 the Somali government's latest disarmament campaign is an attempt to reduce the number of weapons that could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda-linked fighters. Raids over the last week have netted about 500 weapons and hundreds of boxes of ammunition. The Small Arms Survey, a research project based in Switzerland, says world governments in recent years have covertly delivered "tens of thousands of small arms and light weapons to various armed groups in Somalia despite a long-standing UN arms embargo". Somali civilians own more than 500,000 weapons the group estimates. A proposed disarmament law has been approved by the government's cabinet but has not yet been voted on by parliament.
Tunisia – At least 14 Tunisian soldiers have been killed in a militant attack near the Algerian border with at least 20 others wounded it was reported on the 17 Jul 14. Gunmen, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and rifles, raided two checkpoints near Mount Chaambi. It is reportedly the heaviest death toll registered by the army since independence in 1956. The Tunisian army had been waging a crackdown on militants operating in the mountainous region over the past year. Islamist militants, including fighters linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM), are believed to be hiding out in the border region. The soldiers were attacked "by terrorist groups" on the 16 Jul 14 evening as they were breaking their fast as part of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when the terrorists attacked. A group called the Okba Ben Nafaa Brigade has reportedly said it carried out the. Islamist militants have been increasingly active around the Algerian-Tunisian border since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that toppled long-term leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
Tunisia on the 19 Jul 14 launched a crackdown on mosques and radio stations associated with hard-line Islamists after militants killed 14 soldiers on the 16 Jul 14. The move underscores the difficulty one of the Arab world's most secular countries faces in dealing with the rise of conservative Islamist movements and militants since the 2011 revolt that ousted autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali and opened the way to democracy. "The prime minister has decided to close immediately all the mosques that are not under the control of the authorities, and those mosques where there were reported celebrations over the deaths of the soldiers," the office of Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa said in a statement. It said the government would also order the closure of radio stations, websites or television stations that publish messages from militant groups. More than 60 Islamists linked to militants had also been arrested since the attacks on the army checkpoints, the statement said. Tunisia is one of the main sources of Islamist militants travelling from North Africa to fight with radical groups in Iraq and Syria. The government is concerned hardliners have been spreading their jihadist message at mosques not controlled by the state. The government has been slowly taking back control of mosques taken over by ultra-conservative Salafist groups since the 2011 uprising. Tunisia has been praised as a model of transition to democracy in the aftermath of the uprising. The country has adopted a new constitution, and a transition government has taken over until elections this year to overcome a crisis between a leading Islamist party and its secular rivals. But militants from one hard-line group were blamed for killing two secular opposition leaders last year and triggering a political crisis that eventually forced the governing moderate Islamist party to make way for a caretaker administration. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the group's north Africa branch, has claimed attacks in Tunisia in the past, but another militant group, Ansar al Sharia, listed as a terrorist organisation by Washington, is also active.
Somalia – Gunmen killed a female Somali lawmaker on the 23 Jul 14 in a drive-by shooting in Mogadishu, the capital, a police official said, the fourth killing of a Somali lawmaker this year. The Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack on Saado Ali Warsame, who was known for singing popular folk music. She was one of only a few women in Somalia’s Parliament and the first female legislator killed by the group.