CAR – Four UN peacekeepers have been found dead and one remains missing after an attack on a convoy in the Central African Republic (CAR), United Nations officials said on the 9 May 17. The UN's MINUSCA mission said the convoy was attacked by fighters of the "anti-Balaka" armed group near Yogofongo village, more than 470km east of the capital, Bangui, close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. CAR has been plagued by conflict since early 2013, when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, triggering reprisals by Christian "anti-Balaka" militias. MINUSCA, which had earlier announced the death of one Cambodian peacekeeper, said later on the 9 May 17 that it was "deeply saddened to confirm that three of the four peacekeepers that were missing in action since [Monday's] attack have been found dead". At least eight peacekeepers, one Cambodian and seven Moroccans, were wounded in the attack. Eight "anti-Balaka" attackers were killed and several wounded in the crossfire, MINUSCA said. Killing a UN peacekeeper is considered a war crime, MINUSCA spokesman Herve Verhoosel told the AFP news agency, saying the convoy comprised police and UN military staff. The UN sent a helicopter and soldiers to secure the area and search for the missing, while the wounded were evacuated to Bangui, MINUSCA said. The Central African Republic is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for aid agencies, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said last week, with at least 33 attacks on aid workers in the first quarter of 2017. The Seleka and other groups have splintered after violence broke out in March 2013, prompting further fighting despite the election in March 2016 of President Faustin-Archange Touadera, which raised hopes of reconciliation. The UN mission has 13,000 peacekeepers on the ground, but some civilians complain that it does not do enough to protect them against dozens of armed groups.
Egypt – Three Egyptian police officers have been killed in a drive-by-shooting in Cairo by men armed with machineguns, according to the country's interior ministry. Two cars approached a police patrol in the busy neighbourhood of Nasr City late on the 1 May 17 before opening fire at the officers. Five others were wounded in the incident. The interior ministry did not specify how many assailants were involved and no group so far had claimed responsibility for the attack. Field Marshal turned President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has since overseen a crackdown on opposition in which hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been killed and thousands jailed or sentenced to death. The Hasam Movement, which the government alleges is an offshoot of the Brotherhood, has claimed several attacks in or near Cairo, including the assassination of a police officer and the attempted killing of a senior prosecutor. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the country's most active armed group, has pledged its allegiance to the Da’esh group, and has killed hundreds of soldiers and police officers. The attacks have dented the recovery of tourism after a 2011 uprising drove away tourists, a major source of the country's revenue.
Egypt/Muslim Brotherhood – Egyptian security forces killed eight militants who were being trained to attack government and Christian targets in a shootout in the country's southern desert, the government said on the 8 May 17. Those killed included Helmi Masri Mohareb, a leader who transported militants across Egypt's southern border to join training camps, the interior ministry said in a statement. The statement did not say when or exactly where in the desert they were killed, nor in which country they were alleged to have received training. The security forces came under heavy fire as they pursued the militants, before shooting back at them, the ministry said. "This led to the deaths of the mentioned leader and seven of the terrorist elements," of whom two had been identified as Muslim Brotherhood members wanted in other cases, it said. The statement did not say whether there were any casualties among the security forces. Mohareb is also wanted in several cases, and has received the death penalty pending the approval of the mufti, Egypt's official interpreter of Islamic law, though his opinion is not legally binding. According to the statement, these groups were formed according to "assignments issued by the (Muslim Brotherhood) organisation's leadership abroad to its leadership in the country." They planned "to form groups to carry out a series of hostile operations in the coming period by sending elements from these groups to join training camps abroad." Then they were to "return to target state institutions, and government and Christian buildings, and a number of public figures and policemen, with the aim to create a state of chaos, instability, and to foment internal strife." The Brotherhood, once Egypt's largest opposition movement, has long denied involvement in violence. Analysts say a section of the Brotherhood has encouraged armed attacks against policemen in Egypt.
Ivory Coast – Gunfire has erupted in several cities in Ivory Coast, according to witnesses, as the military presses an operation aimed at ending a mutiny by soldiers demanding bonus payments. Heavy gunfire was heard early on the 15 May 17 in the east of the commercial capital, Abidjan, and Ivory Coast's second largest city, Bouake, which remains sealed off by mutinous soldiers. Later in the day, gunfire broke out a military camp in the port city of San Pedro, and mutineers blocked the main border crossing with neighbouring Burkina Faso. Many businesses and schools have closed operations in Abidjan and other cities for fear of worsening unrest, and APBEF, Ivory Coast's banking association, has decided to shutter all banks. The four-day mutiny had paralysed economic activity and brought large parts of the country to a standstill. It looks like the crisis is spreading gradually. There is fear that if things escalate, it could result in loss of lives and injuries to many people. Heavy shooting was also heard in Daloa, a hub for the western cocoa-growing regions. A spokesman for the mutiny denied that any clashes occurred in Bouake and said the renegade soldiers were firing in the air to dissuade any advance on the city. On the 14 May 17 six people were wounded by gunfire in Bouake and one of three protesters shot and wounded there the previous day died of his wounds. The unrest comes as authorities conduct a military operation "to re-establish order" after soldiers who staged a mutiny on the 11 May 17 over bonus payments rejected the army's demand to disarm. The mutineers, most of them former rebel fighters who fought to bring President Alassane Ouattara to power, have used gunfire to break up protests against the revolt, which began when a spokesman for the group dropped demands for extra pay promised by the government during negotiations to end a previous mutiny in Jan 17. On the 14 May loyalist troops were deployed to Bouake and a delegation was sent in to meet leaders of the mutineers. However, negotiations to convince the mutineers to lay down their weapons had failed and the situation remained tense. The situation is dangerous in terms of what will happen if a full-blown confrontation erupts between loyal forces and mutineers - the civilian population will be caught in the crossfire. Under a deal negotiated with the government in Jan 17 the soldiers were to be paid bonuses of 12m CFA francs (18,000 Euros) each, with an initial payment of five million francs that month. The 8,400 mutineers were due to get the rest of the sum this month. But the government has struggled to make the payment, with a budget hit by the collapse in the price of cocoa, Ivory Coast's main export. Last year, the government unveiled an ambitious plan to modernise the 22,000 strong military, part of which would involve the departure of several thousand men, particularly former rebels, who will not be replaced.
Libya – Forces loyal to Libya's military strongman Khalifa Haftar on the 8 May 17 launched an offensive to oust jihadist from their last two strongholds in second city Benghazi, they said. Forces loyal to Haftar, who does not recognise a UN-backed unity government in Tripoli and backs a rival parliament, have retaken most of the coastal city since it was overrun by jihadists in 2014. Riadh Chehibi, an officer in Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army, said the forces advanced in the central district of Al-Sabri and Souq al-Hout area near the port, where jihadists are surrounded. Haftar's forces retook certain positions from the jihadists, but reported no casualties among their ranks, Chehibi said. Footage and pictures shared online showed columns of tanks, armoured vehicles and ambulances heading towards the neighbourhoods. Many jihadists found refuge in Al-Sabri and Souq al-Hout after the LNA drove them from the city's western districts in Mar 17. In Apr 17, the military authorities in Benghazi asked civilians living near these districts to leave their homes to avoid being caught in the crossfire. Jihadists groups in the city include the Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi, an alliance of Islamist militias among them suspected members of the Islamic State group and the Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Al-Sharia. In another video being shared online on the 8 May 17 an LNA officer is shown shooting dead a man said to be a suspected IS member from Algeria. The footage shows the officer holding his gun to the head of the prisoner, who is kneeling down with his hands on his head. In Mar 17, rights group Human Rights Watch said Haftar's forces may have committed war crimes as it fights jihadists in Benghazi. The LNA repeatedly denied the claims, but a top official for the Special Forces in the city, Wanis Boukhamada, then came forward to denounce the abuses and promised to try and punish those responsible.
Nigeria/Boko Haram – The terror sect Boko Haram is “actively planning to kidnap” westerners to raise ransom money, the Foreign Office has warned on the 6 May 17. It issued new travel advice for Nigeria after receiving reports that the group was plotting the kidnaps in the north east of the country. America also warned its citizens about the risk, which it said was based on “credible” information. Both countries said the affected area is in the Bama local government area of Borno state, close to the border with Cameroon. The warning underlines the fragility of security in northeast Nigeria, despite claims from the government and military that Boko Haram is a spent force. “We have received reports that Boko Haram is actively planning to kidnap western foreign workers in Bama local government area of Borno state, along the Kumshe-Banki axis,” said the Foreign Office advice. “If you are working in areas where there is a Boko Haram presence, especially in the north east of Nigeria, you should be alive to the potential risk of kidnapping as a means by the terrorist group to raise funds.” At least 20,000 people have been killed since 2009. But abductions of foreigners have been rare. There was a spate of kidnappings of foreign workers in the wider north from 2011 to 2013, claimed by a Boko Haram splinter group, Ansaru, which was more ideologically aligned to Al-Qaeda. The leader of Ansaru, Khalid al-Barnawi, has been charged with the abduction and murder of foreign workers, among them an Italian, a Briton, a German, Greek, Lebanese and Syrians. Most were engineers or construction workers. International aid workers now account for the majority of foreign nationals in northeast Nigeria. Most are based in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.
Nigeria/Boko Haram – A man purporting to be a Boko Haram fighter said the Islamist militant group plans to bomb Nigeria's capital, Abuja, in a video seen by Reuters on the 13 May 17. "More bombs attacks are on the way, including Abuja that you feel is secured," said the man in the video, which was obtained by Sahara Reporters, a U.S.-based journalism website, and Nigerian journalist Ahmad Salkida. Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the video. The man spoke in the Hausa language widely used in northern Nigeria and held a rifle while flanked by four other armed men.Nigeria's state security agency, the Department of State Services (DSS), in April said it had thwarted plans by Boko Haram militants linked to Islamic State to attack the British and U.S. embassies in Abuja. About 82 girls were freed last Saturday (6 May 17) in exchange for Boko Haram commanders after being held captive for three years. They were among about 270 kidnapped by the jihadist group from the town of Chibok in northeast Nigeria in April 2014. In a second video seen by Reuters, one of a group of four females covered in full-length Muslim veils claiming to be among the abducted girls said she did not want to return home. "We don't want to reunite with our parents because they are not worshipping Allah, and I urge you to join us," she said, holding a rifle and speaking in the Hausa. She added: "We have not been forcefully married to anybody. Marriage is based on your wish." Reuters was not immediately able to verify the authenticity of the video. Mediator and lawyer Zannah Mustapha said some of the abducted girls refused to be released, fuelling fears that they have been radicalised.
Somalia/al-Shabaab – An American soldier was shot dead and two others wounded in a night-time raid with Somali forces against Shabaab militants in Somalia, the US military said on the 5 May 17. "On May 4, one US service member was killed during an operation against Al-Shabaab near Barii, Somalia, approximately 40 miles west of Mogadishu," said a statement from the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), adding the US forces were "conducting an advise and assist mission alongside members of the Somali National Army." "The service member was struck by small arms fire while conducting an advise and assist mission alongside members of the Somalia National Army. Two other US service members were wounded in the incident," she said. US Special Forces have been deployed in Somalia for years, training and supporting the Somali military in the fight against the Al-Qaeda aligned Shabaab. Drone and missile strikes have also been used against Shabaab commanders and foot-soldiers. Abdirisak Farah, a Somali military officer, said that US and Somali commandoes were involved in the overnight raid which targeted a Shabaab unit. He said there were casualties on both sides, including six Shabaab fighters killed. In a statement, the Shabaab said it had repelled the attack and claimed credit for killing the US soldier. "An air landing operation by US Special Forces was thwarted in Lower Shabelle province and a number of their soldiers were killed and wounded," the group said, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadist threats.
Somalia/al-Shabaab – At least six people were killed and about 10 injured on the 8 May 17 in a car bomb attack in Somalia's capital Mogadishu claimed by militant Islamist group Shabaab, police said. The car exploded next to an Italian cafe on a key thoroughfare in the centre of the city which leads to the presidential palace, in the latest such attack in the violence-scarred country. "For the moment we have six dead in the explosion, civilians. The car full of explosives blew up next to an Italian cafe," said police officer Mohamed Abdulahi who was at the scene. "The blast was very powerful and there were a lot of people there at the time, I saw several people dead and injured," added a witness, Abdukadir Ise. It was unclear whether the car was parked or if a suicide bomber was at the wheel when it exploded, according to police sources. Shabaab claimed responsibility in a statement on a website it habitually uses. The group added that an officer was among the fatalities -- which could not be immediately confirmed. "Shabaab fighters were behind a car bomb attack on members of the security forces, the army and immigration services", who regularly frequent the cafe, the group said. In February Shabaab threatened to escalate attacks in a "vicious war" against the new government of President Mohamed Abdullahi.