Follow-on Report: (27 Mar 17) The Kamwina Nsapu group was believed to be behind the attack. It has been fighting DR Congo forces since its leader was killed by the security forces last year. The attack came days after the UN Human Rights Council said 10 mass graves had been found in Kasai, with limbs sticking out of the soil at some of the sites.
Egypt/Da’esh – Ten Egyptian soldiers were killed in two roadside bombings as they clashed with Islamic State group jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula, the military said on the 23 Mar 17. Fifteen jihadists were also killed in the fighting, the military said in a statement, without saying when the incidents took place. The military said the clashes broke out when soldiers raided "an extremely dangerous" jihadist hideout. The Islamic State group had said in a statement on the 22 Mar 17 that it blew up two army vehicles during clashes south of the Sinai city of El-Arish.
Egypt/Cairo – One man was killed and three others injured in an explosion in the Cairo suburb of Maadi, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on the 24 Mar 17. The man who was killed, a building guard who was cleaning the property's garden, found "an unidentified metallic object". Upon handling it, it exploded, resulting in his death and the injury of his wife and two children by shrapnel, the statement said. The injured have been moved to the hospital for treatment and the area had been cordoned off and is being combed by security forces, it added. There was no immediate claim of responsibility or what the intended target was.
Libya – Armed groups in Tripoli have signed a ceasefire deal ending a four-day battle for control of the Libyan capital, the unity government said on the 16 Mar 17. The city has been paralysed amid exchanges of rocket and artillery fire between pro-unity government forces and rival militias including groups allied with former prime minister Khalifa Ghweil. The 16 Mar 17 deal cements the UN-backed Government of National Accord's control over large parts of the capital. It provides for an "immediate ceasefire" and calls for armed groups that do not recognise the GNA to leave Tripoli within 30 days. It also demands the release of people arrested since the 13 Mar 17 the GNA's defence ministry said. Clashes on the 15 Mar 17 night rocked the capital's southern Salaheddine district, where several rival militias occupy barracks. But the city and its surroundings were quiet on the 16 mar 17 following the overnight deal, signed by the GNA, local mayors and powerful militias from Tripoli and Misrata. Militias have been key power brokers in a country plagued by violence and lawlessness since the NATO-backed ouster of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. The battle, triggered on the night of the 13 Mar 17 after the killing of a bank guard, saw pro-GNA forces expand their clout in the capital. They took several districts from rival militias including groups allied with Ghweil, who was forced out of power when the GNA arrived in Tripoli. The GNA operation appeared to be well-prepared and coordinated. The deal charges GNA forces with securing areas controlled by rival groups. Observers said it was in line with an inter-Libyan political deal backed by the UN and signed in Dec 15. That agreement, which gave rise to the GNA, called for armed groups to leave Tripoli and other Libyan towns. The capital remains home to dozens of militias. Since taking office, the unity government has secured the backing of several, but many parts of Tripoli remain out of its control. The GNA wants to see heavy weapons withdrawn from the capital to allow its security forces to operate effectively.
Mali/Tuareg – Mali's main Tuareg factions say they will boycott talks with the government during the week starting on the 27 Mar 17 on implementing a 2015 peace agreement, dimming hopes of attaining peace in the West African country. The main separatist groups in northern Mali - the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) and Platform, a coalition of pro-government Tuareg - said they could not take part in the conference, explaining that it was not sufficiently inclusive. "We cannot take part in a conference which, far from uniting, risks being divisive," the groups said in a statement on the 25 Mar 17. The 2015 peace accord was meant to draw a line under a conflict that has pitted nomadic Tuaregs in the north against the government in the south. But the implementation of the agreement has been held up by bickering, while armed groups affiliated to al-Qaeda have exploited the security vacuum to step up attacks. After months of delays and arguments, there had been some signs of progress in recent weeks with the return of state authority to some cities from which it had been absent since the Tuareg revolt began in 2012. In Apr 12, a nomadic rebel group called the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) seized control of an area larger than France before being ousted by al-Qaeda-linked groups who imposed a strict interpretation of Islamic law on the local population, carrying out amputations and executions. In Jan 13 France launched a military intervention in its former West African colony to stop the rebels' southward offensive. Despite continued French troop deployments, a United Nations peacekeeping mission and years of peace talks, Mali remains beset by unrest and ethnic strife. In recent months, joint patrols by fighters from the various armed factions and the Malian security forces have helped restore confidence, but tensions remain high. Earlier in Mar 17 armed groups surrounded Timbuktu, once a popular tourist destination because of its fabled history of gilded Islamic empires that grew rich on trade connecting Africa's interior with its Mediterranean coast. The armed groups were opposed to the return of state authority to the city, and no agreement has yet been reached to allow it to go ahead.
Nigeria/Boko Haram – Three suicide bombers killed four people and injured eight others in a village near the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri, a police spokesman said on the 19 Mar 17. A man and two women blew themselves up when they were challenged by a member of the Civilian JTF, a government-approved militia group, just outside Maiduguri, the city worst hit by jihadist group Boko Haram's eight-year insurgency. The blasts, in the village of Umariri around 7 kilometres (4 miles) from the city, occurred on Saturday around 2100 hrs. (2000 hrs GMT), said Maiduguri police spokesman Victor Isuku. "Four people which include a Civilian JTF [member], a woman and her two children died while eight others sustained injuries," he said. It is the latest in a string of attacks in the last few days to bear the hallmarks of Boko Haram. A man claiming to be the group's leader appeared in a video circulated on the 17 Mar 17 in which he claimed responsibility for bombings in Maiduguri and a raid on the nearby town of Magumeri last week. He also denied that 5,000 hostages held by the group had been freed.
Nigeria/Boko Haram – At least three people have been killed and 18 others wounded in multiple suicide blasts at a refugee camp on the outskirts of the north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, security sources said on the 22 Mar 17. Police said five male suicide bombers detonated explosives at the camp which is located at the Muna Garage area of the city in the early hours. Those wounded were taken to hospital to receive treatment. The blasts triggered fires which burned down tents in the vast Muna camp, Tijjani Lumani, a coordinator at the camp said. "There were four explosions inside the camp. The bombers struck at different locations around 0430 hrs." Lumani said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Maiduguri has been frequently targeted by fighters of the Boko Haram armed group. According to eyewitnesses, the bombers had crept into the camps late on the night of the 21 Mar 17 alongside those who sell charcoal to refugees, who use it to cook their food.Most of the people living there are those who have fled their homes due to the spate of attacks by Boko Haram in the country's northeast.
Somalia/Piracy – Coastguards in northern Somalia exchanged gunfire on the 16 Mar 17 with armed men aboard a boat heading towards a hijacked oil tanker where pirates are holding eight hostages, an official said. Armed attackers seized the Aris 13 tanker on the 13 Mar 17 as it made its way from Djibouti to Mogadishu, the first hijacking of a large merchant vessel by Somali pirates since 2012. The tanker was forced to change course and head toward the coastline of the semi-autonomous Puntland region, on the north-eastern tip of Somalia. "There was a brief exchange of gunfire in the coastal area where the boat is being held," said Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, the director general of the Puntland maritime force. "Our forces were doing a normal routine patrolling around the area when they came under gunfire from these gunmen who were onboard a small skiff and they returned fire." Local fisherman Abdulahi Yahya from the town of Habo where the hijacked ship is docked, said the men were "heading towards the hijacked ship when they were intercepted by the coastguards." John Steed, a former British army officer who heads the Horn of Africa section of the Oceans Beyond Piracy NGO, said the men were believed to be members of the local community delivering food to the hijacked vessel. He said an unknown number of people had been injured in the fierce firefight. Hassan said: "The gunmen aboard the hijacked ship contacted our commanders and asked for the fire to be ceased." He said efforts were under way to free the ship and a regional governor, whose name was not given, had been appointed to lead negotiations with the pirates. Mohamed Deeq, a member of the Puntland coastguard, said earlier that if talks to free the vessel and eight Sri Lankan hostages failed, "the forces will possibly engage" the pirates. The Aris 13 was about 18 kilometres off the Somali coast when it was attacked, according to Steed. He said the vessel was not following the "best practices" put in place to avoid piracy, since it was taking a cost- and time-saving route too close to Somalia's coastline, was travelling too slowly and was without an armed escort. Village elders of Alula said the pirates had not made clear demands, but claimed to be driven by anger over illegal fishing. "These are fishermen who are infuriated with the illegal fishing off their coasts. They desperately need to show their grievances by seizing the boat," said Abdiwahab Ahmed, an elder in Alula. In Sri Lanka, a spokesman for AJ Shipping Private Limited which represents the Greek owner of the Aris 13 met with family members of the hostages. The spokesman Tyronne Fernando said the owner of the ship had spoken to its captain Nicholas Thangenthren who had assured him that all the hostages were unharmed. "We are confident that the crew will be released very soon," Fernando told family members in the presence of reporters. Somali pirates began staging waves of attacks in 2005, seriously disrupting a major international shipping route and costing the global economy billions of dollars. At the peak of the piracy crisis in January 2011, 736 hostages and 32 boats were held. Though anti-piracy measures ended attacks on commercial vessels, fishing boats have continued to face attacks. Illegal fishing has long been used by Somali pirates as an excuse for attacks and Steed has in the past warned that the presence of foreign vessels emptying Somali waters could reverse the gains against piracy.
Somalia/Migrants – At least 31 Somali refugees have been killed off the coast of Yemen after a helicopter attacked the boat they were travelling in, according to a local coastguard officer in the Houthi-controlled Hodeidah area. Mohamed al-Alay said that the refugees, carrying official UNHCR documents, were on their way from Yemen to Sudan when they were attacked late on the 16 Mar 17 by an Apache helicopter near the Bab al-Mandeb Strait. A sailor who had been operating the boat, Ibrahim Ali Zeyad, said 80 refugees were rescued after the incident. It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack. Hodeidah, on the Red Sea, is controlled by Iran-allied Houthi fighters. The Bab al-Mandeb is a strategic waterway at the foot of the Red Sea through which nearly four million barrels of oil are shipped daily to Europe, the US and Asia.
Somalia/Piracy – Somali pirates on 16 Mar 17 released a hijacked oil tanker and its eight-man Sri Lankan crew without any conditions or ransom payments. John Steed, regional manager of the watchdog group Oceans Without Piracy, told VOA, "They [the pirates] were given an offer they could not refuse — live or die. They were surrounded [with] nowhere to go, so pragmatism won in the end." Officials said local elders negotiated the release of the Aris 13 and that as part of the negotiations, the pirates were allowed to leave the vessel and return to shore. The Puntland government also reportedly granted them immunity. The Sri Lanka-flagged ship is owned by Armi Shipping SA and is operated by Aurora Ship Management, both based in the United Arab Emirates. Gunmen in two skiffs hijacked the Aris 13 off the coast of Somalia as it travelled from Djibouti to Mogadishu carrying fuel and gas. The hijackers, who insisted they were fishermen, not pirates, said they wanted "compensation" for illegal fishing off the coast of Somalia, but did not make specific ransom demands. Maritime and Somali regional officials said the hijackers moved the ship to Haabo from its original location off the coast of Alula to the west.
South Sudan – Six aid workers have been killed in an ambush in famine-hit South Sudan, the United Nations said on the 26 Mar 17 without specifying what organisation they worked for. The victims were attacked on the 25 Mar 17 as they travelled from the capital, Juba, to the eastern town of Pibor, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). According to OCHA, it was the highest number of humanitarian workers killed in one incident since the start of a civil war more than three years ago. The 25 Mar 17 ambush followed two other attacks on aid workers this month, shortly after South Sudan declared famine last month in two counties of Unity state, saying 100,000 people face starvation and another million are on the brink of famine. After gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, the world's youngest nation descended into war in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his rival and former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup. Tens of thousands have since died and 3.5 million people have been displaced, while a surge in fighting since July has devastated food production in areas that had been stable for farmers. At least 79 humanitarians have been killed in South Sudan since the conflict began, including at least 12 killed this year, OCHA said. "These attacks against aid workers and aid assets are utterly reprehensible," Owusu said. "They not only put the lives of aid workers at risk, they also threaten the lives of thousands of South Sudanese who rely on our assistance for their survival." Earlier this month, the government announced plans to charge a levy of $10,000 for each foreign aid worker, which along with the danger of abduction could hurt efforts to help the hungry. On the 23 Mar 17 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres accused South Sudan's government of ignoring the plight of tens of thousands of people suffering from famine, 7.5 million in need of humanitarian aid and thousands fleeing the fighting. "There is a strong consensus that South Sudanese leaders need to do more to demonstrate their commitment to the wellbeing of the country's people, who are among the poorest in the world," Guterres said during a UN Security Council briefing. Joseph Moum Malok, South Sudan's deputy UN ambassador, said the government "takes issue with the accusation", adding that other parts of the country are affected by drought. He also said the government "will spare no efforts to help address the situation and calls upon the international community to help address this urgent matter". A confidential UN report, which was seen by the AFP and Reuters news agencies earlier this month, found that the famine was largely caused by Juba's military operations. "The bulk of evidence suggests that the famine in Unity state has resulted from protracted conflict and, in particular, the cumulative toll of repeated military operations undertaken by the government in southern Unity beginning in 2014," the report said. It also said the government is spending its oil revenue on weapons, even as the country descends into a famine. The government rejected the report's allegations.