Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’

Suicide bomber kills at least 50 in Nigeria — Boko Haram jihadists blamed

November 21, 2017


© AFP/File / by Aminu ABUBAKAR | Nigeria maintains Boko Haram is a spent force but its continued attacks underline the lingering threat, particularly to civilians

KANO (NIGERIA) (AFP) – At least 50 people were killed on Tuesday when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a mosque in northeast Nigeria, police said, in an attack blamed on Boko Haram jihadists.The blast happened during early morning prayers at the Madina mosque in the Unguwar Shuwa area of Mubi, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) by road from the Adamawa state capital, Yola.

“So far we have at least 50 dead from an attack at a mosque in Mubi,” Adamawa state police spokesman Othman Abubakar told AFP.

“Several people were injured. We don’t have the figure now because they have been taken to several hospitals for treatment.

“It was a (suicide) bomber who mingled with worshippers. He entered the mosque along with other worshippers for the morning prayers.

“It was when the prayers were on that he set off his explosives.”

Asked who was responsible, Abubakar said: “We all know the trend. We don’t suspect anyone specifically but we know those behind such kind of attacks.”

The attack bore all the hallmarks of Boko Haram, the Islamist militants whose insurgency has left at least 20,000 people dead and more than 2.6 million others homeless since 2009.

Haruna Furo, head of the Adamawa state emergency management agency, and Musa Hamad Bello, chairman of the Mubi north local government area, both confirmed the attack.

They gave lower death tolls but both said the number of those killed was likely to rise.

Another emergency services official described the blast as “devastating”. He said only that there were “high casualties”.

– Roof blown off –

Abubakar Sule, who lives near the mosque, said he had just returned home when he heard the blast.

“I was there when the rescue was on and 40 people died on the spot and several others were taken to hospital with severe and life-threatening injuries,” he added.

“The roof was blown off. People near the mosque said the prayer was mid-way when the bomber, who was obviously in the congregation, detonated his explosives.

“This is obviously the work of Boko Haram.”

Boko Haram briefly overran Mubi in late 2014 as its fighters rampaged across northeastern Nigeria, seizing towns and villages in its quest to establish a hardline Islamic state.

The town’s name was changed temporarily to Madinatul Islam, or “City of Islam” in Arabic, during the Boko Haram occupation.

But it has been peaceful since the military and the civilian militia ousted them from the town, which is a commercial hub and home to the Adamawa State University.

In recent months, Boko Haram activity has been concentrated on the far north of Adamawa state, around Madagali, which is near the border with neighbouring Borno state.

Earlier this month, at least two civilians were killed when dozens of Boko Haram fighters tried to storm the town of Gulak but were repelled by soldiers.

There have been repeated suicide bombings in the area, which lies not far from the Sambisa Forest area of Borno, where the militants had a base.

Boko Haram fighters are also said to be hiding in the Mandara mountains, to the east of Adamawa state, which forms the border with neighbouring Cameroon.


Libya says it will investigate ‘slave auction’ footage

November 19, 2017


© AFP | A demonstrator, standing through the smoke from tear gas, raises his fist during a march against “slavery in Libya” on the Champs-Elysees avenue face antiriot police in Paris on November 18, 2017

TRIPOLI (AFP) – Libya will investigate alleged slave trading in the country, the internationally recognised government announced Sunday, following the release of video footage appearing to show migrants being auctioned off.Chaos-ridden Libya has long been a major transit hub for migrants trying to reach Europe, and many of them have fallen prey to serious abuse in the North African country at the hands of traffickers and others.

US television network CNN aired the footage last week of an apparent live auction in Libya where black men are presented to North African buyers as potential farmhands and sold off for as little as $400.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Metig said his UN-backed Government of National Accord would investigate the allegations, in a statement posted Sunday on the Facebook page of the GNA’s press office.

Metig said he would instruct the formation of a “commission to investigate these reports in order to apprehend and bring those responsible to justice”, the statement added.

The foreign ministry in a statement added: “If these allegations are confirmed, all implicated persons will be punished.”

The CNN report apparently showing migrants being auctioned off in Libya was shared widely on social media, provoking outrage in Africa, Europe and the rest of the world.

The grainy footage shot on a mobile telephone shows a man CNN said was Nigerian and in his 20s being offered up for sale as part of a group of “big strong boys for farm work”.

In the CNN report, a person identified as an auctioneer can be heard saying “800… 900… 1,000… 1,100…” before two men are sold for 1,200 Libyan dinars ($875).

Around 1,000 people took to the streets of Paris on Saturday to protest against slavery in Libya, according to French police. The gathering led to clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

Guinean President Alpha Conde, who is also chairman of the African Union, on Friday called for an inquiry and prosecutions relating to what he termed a “despicable trade… from another era”.

Senegal’s government expressed “outrage at the sale of Sub-Saharan African migrants on Libyan soil” that constituted a “blight on the conscience of humanity”.

African migrants from nations including Guinea and Senegal but also Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Gambia make the dangerous crossing through the Sahara to Libya with hopes of making it over the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.

But testimony collected by AFP has revealed a litany of rights abuses at the hands of gangsters, human traffickers and the Libyan security forces, while many end up stuck in the unstable North African nation for years.

More than 8,800 stranded migrants have been returned home this year, according to the International Organization for Migration, which is also compiling evidence of slavery.

African Union calls for ‘slave market’ probe

November 18, 2017

(From L) Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame, Senegal’s president Macky Sall, Mali’s president Ibrahima Boubacar Keita and president of the Commission of African Union (AU) Moussa Faki Mahamat attend the opening of the 4th Summit on Peace and Security on November 13, 2017 in Dakar. (AFP)

DAKAR: The African Union (AU) on Friday called for Libyan authorities to investigate “slave markets” of black Africans operating in the conflict-torn nation, following the release of shocking images showing the sale of young men.

The demand follows the release of CNN footage of a live auction in Libya where black youths are presented to North African buyers as potential farmhands and sold off for as little as $400.
Guinean President Alpha Conde, who is also chairman of the AU, demanded an inquiry and prosecutions relating to what he termed a “despicable trade… from another era.”
Meanwhile, Senegal’s government commenting on Facebook, expressed “outrage at the sale of Sub-Saharan African migrants on Libyan soil,” which constituted a “blight on the conscience of humanity.”
African migrants from nations including Guinea and Senegal but also Mali, Niger, Nigeria and The Gambia make the dangerous crossing through the Sahara to Libya with hopes of making it over the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.
But testimony collected by AFP in recent years has revealed a litany of rights abuses at the hands of gangmasters, human traffickers and the Libyan security forces, while many end up stuck in the unstable North African nation for years.
More than 8,800 stranded migrants have been returned home this year, according to the International Organization for Migration, which is also amassing evidence of slavery.
Conde further appealed for the Libyan authorities to “reassess migrants’ detention conditions” following revelations over squalid jails and detention centers that await migrants who are caught trying to reach the coast.
“These modern slavery practices must end and the African Union will use all the tools at its disposal,” Conde added.
Libya has opened an investigation into the practice, CNN reported Friday, and pledged to return those taken as slaves to their country of origin.

Four suicide bombers strike in northeast Nigeria — Islamist extremists group Boko Haram suspected

November 16, 2017


© Stringer / AFP (file photo) | Onlookers stand as ambulance carries dead bodies recovered from the scene of three suicide bomb blasts in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, on October 23, 2017.


Latest update : 2017-11-16

Twelve people were killed Wednesday evening after four suicide bombers struck in the regional capital of Maiduguri in northeast Nigeria, rescue workers told AFP.

Two men and two women blew themselves up in the Muna neighbourhood at around 1700 GMT, the chief security officer of Borno State’s emergency response agency, Bello Dambatta, said.

“The total people who died in these four suicide bombings is 12, 16 including the bombers,” he told AFP. “Twenty-two people were taken to the Borno State Specialist Hospital for treatment to various injuries.”

The first suicide bomber blew himself up among people conducting an evening prayer, killing seven, Dambatta said.

A suicide bomber then entered a house before setting off explosives, killing a pregnant woman and her child.

The other two suicide bombers blew themselves up before reaching their targets, he added.

The Islamist extremists of Boko Haram have carried out a eight-year campaign of violence in Nigeria’s northeast.

The jihadist group does not always claim responsibility for attacks, but the method used in Wednesday’s attack — multiple suicide bombings — is a common tactic.

After growing in strength, the group, led by Abubakar Shekau, took control of a large area of northeastern Nigeria in 2014 and declared a caliphate.

At least 20,000 people have been killed and more than 2.6 million people made homeless in northeast Nigeria since the group launched its insurgency.

In recent years the group has suffered a series of defeats and the Nigerian authorities have repeatedly stated it was about to be defeated, but attacks on villages and military convoys as well as suicide attacks against civilians continue.

On Friday, at least three Nigerian soldiers and a militiaman were killed and ten other soldiers wounded in an ambush by Boko Haram on the edge of Sambisa Forest, one of its strongholds in the northeast.

Deaths By Terrorism Down Globally But Up in Europe

November 15, 2017

Even as terrorism-related deaths drop dramatically in some parts of the world, fatalities in OECD countries have reached a 16-year high. Research Director of the Global Terrorism Index Daniel Hyslop tells DW why.

Trucks as terror weapons: 12 people died in an attack on a Christmas market in Berlin in 2016 (picture-alliance/rtn-radio tele nord rtn/P. Wuest)
  • The study by the Institute for Economics and Peace shows terrorism fell significantly in the worst-affected countries  Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria — bringing down global casualty figures.
  • The report went on to call 2016 a “turning point” in the fight against radical Islamist extremism.
  • The so-called Islamic State was the “main driver” for a rise in deaths in Europe and other developed countries. The group was linked to 75 percent of deaths from terrorism in OECD nations since 2014.
  • The rise in European deaths coincides with a tactical shift towards simpler and cheaper methods of attack.

Daniel Hyslop, Research Director at the Institute for Economics and Peace, talks to DW about global changes in terrorism-related deaths.

DW: What was unique about this year’s study?

Daniel Hyslop: The main report finding that was unique was the fact that the number of terrorist deaths actually decreased by 22 percent globally in 2016 compared to the peak of 2014. So it’s a positive story.

Four of the five countries that are most impacted by terrorist activity have actually seen a notable decrease in the number of deaths that they’ve experienced. That’s really a turning point in the fight against terrorism.

Which countries have seen a significant decrease in terms of terror deaths and which ones a significant increase?

Thecountry that saw the largest decreases was Nigeria, largely because of the Multinational Joint Task Force — the coalition of countries that are fighting Boko Haram — which led to an 80 percent decrease in the number of deaths that the groups committed. Maybe about 3,000 fewer people were killed last year from the group’s actions.

The other thing is Boko Haram split into three groups and it’s no longer the coherent group that it was a couple of years ago. It’s a big improvement in Nigeria and a big part of the story.

Read more – AFRICOM: ‘Terrorist groups’ remain a challenge across Africa

Daniel Hyslop, Research Director at the Institute for Economics and Peace (Institute for Economic Peace)


Daniel Hyslop: ’80 percent fewer terror victims in Nigeria’

There has also been an improvement in Yemen and Afghanistan, as well as Syria and Niger, which is connected to the improvement in Nigeria. The improvement in Yemen is really because of the sporadic peace talks that have occurred. There has been less use of terror tactics by Houthi rebels. Afghanistan was seeing sort of a perverse trend where the number of conventional battle deaths by the Taliban, the most deadly group in Afghanistan, has actually increased. But the use of terror tactics has actually decreased, so there’s a different trend going on there.

In Syria, we have seen a decrease in the level of terrorism from”Islamic State” (IS). The worst groups really tried to hold on to territory in the country and spent all of its resources on conventional battlefield situation.

Your numbers show that terrorism deaths are down by 22 percent compared to 2014. But we see terrorist attacks in the news every day. How do you explain that?

In Europe, I think one of the concerning trends is that in 2016 we saw the highest number of terrorist deaths in the OECD member countries, which include most of Europe, the US, Australia and Canada. And that number was the highest number since 1988. I think that’s largely the reason why at least in Europe we have the perception of there being perhaps more terrorism than before.

Read more – Cities struggle for security in light of terrorist attacks

Which countries had the most surprising outcomes?

Nigeria soldiers at a checkpoint in Gwoza (picture-alliance/AP Photo/L. Oyekanmi)Regional cooperation has helped combat Boko Haram, which used to be the deadliest terror organisation in the world

I think the most surprising outcome was Nigeria. The fact that it’s going down by about 80 percent, that is a dramatic improvement. You have to remember only two years ago Boko Haram was the deadliest terrorist group in the world. We’ve now seen the group significantly hollowed out, split into three parts. It’s also an example of cooperation between those countries in the region to fight against terrorism. And that just shows that these regional coalitions can be very impactful in terms of dealing with their own security challenges.

Has there been a change in how terrorist attacks have been carried out?

In the places where the majority of terrorism happens, which, of course, is in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Nigeria, there hasn’t been a dramatic change. However, in Europe there has been. What we have seen is a shift towards much simpler tactics, involving a lot less planning and a lot less people, for instance the use of trucks which Islamic State actually called for back in 2016. That has been a particularly disturbing trend. It has been effective and it’s been used several times already. It’s really in response to the fact that a lot of the really complex attacks are much easier to foil by the security services.

Does that mean that security measures and secret services are working more effectively?

If you look at the proportion of terrorist attacks foiled in OECD member countries, it has gone from about 19 percent of attacks being foiled in 2015 to about 34 percent of attacks on average being foiled in 2016.

What we have seen in the first half of 2017 is actually fewer deaths than at the same time 2016. It is not a uniform trend across all European countries but certainly in Germany, for instance, there have been no successful attacks in 2017. There have been several foiled attacks, but no success.

Read more – EU introduces new measures to combat ‘low-tech’ terrorism

Read more – Preventing terrorism: What powers do German security forces have?

I think one thing that we touched on the report is the fact that whilst Islamic State, the most devastating group, has almost been militarily defeated in Iraq, in Syria, it’s very hard to defeat the ideology that has given rise to the extreme violence that the group is being based on. I think that is the concerning trend going whether or not there is the potential for more violent permutations of IS to emerge. That is why we really think that what is important to address terrorism in the long run, especially in Iraq and Syria, is to develop more inclusive post-conflict settlements that include the disenfranchised groups like the Sunni groups to ensure that there is a long-term peace.

A lot of our work is based on positive peace, so on a concept of building up the attitudes, institutions and structures that sustain peaceful societies. That’s really where we need to focus rather than on the short-term counterterrorism.

Daniel Hyslop is the Research Director at the Institute for Economics and Peace. He has led consulting work with a range of intergovernmental organizations and think tanks including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Hyslop holds a Masters of Economics from Sydney University.

The interview was conducted by Nastassja Shtrauchler and edited for clarity.

U.S. Airstrikes Target Islamic State in Somalia

November 4, 2017
The U.S. military conducted a series of airstrikes against Islamic State in Somalia, military officials said, marking an expansion of American operations against extremists in that country.

By Gordon Lubold
The Wall Street Journal
November 3, 2017

WASHINGTON—The U.S. military conducted a series of airstrikes against Islamic State in Somalia, military officials said, marking an expansion of American operations against extremists in that country.

The Defense Department’s U.S. Africa Command said Friday that it had conducted two sets of strikes against militants in the northeastern region of the east African country, killing several of them. The strikes were conducted in coordination with the government of Somalia, the Pentagon said.

The U.S. has joined in recent years with African forces in Somalia, largely targeting the al-Shabaab militant group, affiliated with al Qaeda. The strikes announced Friday were the first to target a strain of the Islamic State extremist group, which has posed a growing threat in Somalia in recent months.

The strike against ISIS in Somalia came after specific intelligence indicated the militant group was planning an attack on Somali forces in the area, another U.S. military official said.

Islamic State numbers about 200 militants in Somalia, officials have said. There are as many as 300 U.S. service members on the ground in Somalia.

The first set of strikes was carried out at about midnight local time, and the second set occurred about 11 hours later, the military said. An assessment of the effects of the operation is under way, the military said in a statement.

The precise target of the operation was unclear, but a military official said U.S. forces had been following the target for many weeks.

In a series of posts on his Twitter account earlier Friday, President Donald Trump said that ISIS had claimed a 29-year-old native of Uzbekistan who killed eight and injured many others in a terrorist attack in New York. “Based on that,” Mr. Trump wrote, “the Military has hit ISIS ’much harder’ over the last two days.”

The strikes in Somalia weren’t connected to the attack in New York, the military official said.

When asked about Mr. Trump’s messages on Twitter, Pentagon spokeswoman Maj. Audricia Harris said the U.S. military has been hitting harder against Islamic State.

“We have, and we will continue to protect the U.S. homeland through striking ISIS, along with al Qaeda and other affiliated or like-minded violent extremist organizations,” she said. “We are fighting and killing ISIS in operations in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Philippines, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, the Sinai in Egypt and wherever these groups emerge,” she added.

Despite that, there was no indication that the Pentagon had begun to hit the militant group any harder than it has been, and any new targets would never be available as soon as days after an attack, such as the one in New York, according to other officials.

In early October, four members of a U.S. Army Green Beret patrol were killed in Niger when their team was ambushed by a large number militants, who American officials have concluded were fighters affiliated with Islamic State. Investigations are under way into the ambush, seeking to answer questions including why the team was unable to secure assistance from armed drones.

Earlier this year, Mr. Trump granted commanders greater authority to conduct strikes without seeking White House permission, an effort to streamline the process and ramp up military efforts.

While the operation announced Friday represented the first strike against Islamic State in Somalia, the U.S. has taken other strikes under that expanded authority inside the country, mainly against al-Shabaab.

“U.S. forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats,” the military said.

Write to Gordon Lubold at

Terror War: Battle in the African Sahel Comes Out of The Shadows

October 30, 2017
 OCTOBER 30, 2017 00:16


US soldiers fight alongside French forces and locals in Niger

A US special forces soldier demonstrates how to detain a suspect in Diffa, Niger.

A US special forces soldier demonstrates how to detain a suspect in Diffa, Niger.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

On October 4, four United States servicemen and five soldiers from Niger were killed in a battle with an estimated 50 members of an ISIS affiliate.

The US casualties are raising eyebrows in Washington, with senators reportedly “shocked” and “stunned” to find that the US has more than 1,000 personnel in Niger and neighboring countries.

No automatic alt text available.
As controversies swirl, the US is being called upon to support UN backing for more counter- terrorism operations led by France in the Sahel, the area between the Sahara Desert to the north and the savannas region to the south.

According to a March document from the US Government Accountability Office, the US has greatly expanded its security presence abroad, especially in Africa, since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“The US government has engaged in numerous efforts to build the capacity of foreign partners to address security-related threats,” the Government Accountability Office said, claiming it “identified 194 Department of Defense security cooperation and state security assistance efforts” that address security-related threats. A number of these programs are tailored specifically to confront the growing threat of terrorism in countries that border the Sahel. These include countries such as Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Ethiopia, which borders Somalia.

Between 1997 and 2012, the US provided training to 215,000 personnel from states in Africa. Since the establishment of an Africa Command in 2007, the focus has increasingly shifted to fighting terrorism alongside peacekeeping. The long list of US-supported programs include the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund, the US Army’s African Land Forces Engagement Summit, a specific program for Support for Counterterrorism Operations in Africa, Peace Keeping Operations Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance, a “rapid response partnership” and a series of regional counterterrorism partnerships.

In the Sahara, the US “assists partners in West and North Africa to increase their immediate and long-term capabilities to address terrorist threats and prevent the spread of violent extremism,” according to the State Department. This includes efforts to “contain and marginalize” terrorist groups as well as “disrupt efforts to recruit, train and provision terrorists and extremists” and counterterrorist groups that seek to establish “safe havens.”

It was during one of these types of missions in October that something went awry. The 12 US soldiers were supposed to be part of an advise-and-assist mission with 30 soldiers from Niger.

Just before a raid targeting a terrorist commander, the target crossed into Mali and the joint US-Niger team, instead, went to search his abandoned camp. According to an October 23 US Defense Department press conference by Gen. Joseph Dunford, the soldiers drove 85 km. north from the capital of Niamey to the village of Tongo Tongo. The village is just across the border from the Reserve Partielle de Faune D’Ansongo-Menake in Mali and the Sahel reserve in Burkina Faso.

The US-Niger forces were ambushed after meeting with locals at a village. The enemy was well prepared with heavy machine guns, RPGs and driving on “technicals,” or trucks with machine guns mounted on the back.

The Americans radioed for assistance and an unarmed drone arrived overhead. Two hours after the battle began, French Mirage jets also came to assist. Eventually, the survivors were evacuated by the French military.

Despite efforts to downplay the incident, the picture that is painted is of a large shadow war on terrorism in Africa that goes relatively unreported in Western media. The ambush conjures up images of the battle of Black Hawk Down in 1993 in Somalia and the 2012 Benghazi attack in Libya, which led to the death of 19 and four Americans, respectively. Both attacks also led to political discussions and policy changes in Libya and Somalia, both of which are still plagued by terrorism. In mid-October, more than 300 people were killed in an attack in Mogadishu. Another 23 were murdered in an attack on October 28.

Niger is an example of a wider problem affecting the region. According to the US State Department, there are numerous terrorist groups in Niger, including Boko Haram, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and ISIS. “Niger’s long borders and areas of harsh terrain made effective border security a challenge, specifically in the north, along the border with Algeria, Libya, and Mali.”

These ungoverned spaces allow AQIM and other groups to transit throughout the Sahel and Sahara. Considering how ISIS exploited the breakdown in Syria and Iraqi states to spread quickly in 2014, the role of ISIS among these other groups’ points to a worrisome phenomenon.

The danger of these groups sometimes goes unrecognized until it is too late. In 2012, Jean Herskovits, a professor of history at the State University of New York, wrote in The New York Times, “There is no proof that a well-organized, ideologically coherent terrorist group called Boko Haram even exists today.”

She urged against the US being drawn into a Nigerian war on terror because “placing Boko Haram on the foreign terrorist list would… make more Nigerians fear and distrust America.” Five years later, Boko Haram is still making headlines with its massacres, including recent reports on how it straps suicide bombs to girls.

Now the US is debating a French-drafted UN Security Council resolution that would give backing to a multinational force to fight terrorism. This is called the G5 Sahel force, which has existed since 2014 and consists of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. Already there are 4,000 French soldiers in and around Niger fighting terrorism alongside 35,000 African partner troops, according to Dunford.

The G5 force builds upon the work of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership which was created in 2005 with 11 countries in the same region, with a broader membership that included Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Cameroon.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly has encouraged the US to support the G5 force. These forces are underfinanced.

According to Reuters, the $490 million budget is only 25% funded.

As ISIS is defeated in Syria and Iraq, it is not clear if Africa will emerge as a growing base of fighters. However, the northern part of the continent is fertile ground for similar groups. It is a vast area that unites various terrorist groups from different backgrounds.

Although not directly linked to the Sahel, recent flare-ups in fighting in the Sinai and battles between Egyptian police and extremists in Egypt’s Western Desert are connected to this global battle. It’s a message that what happens in Niger affects Jerusalem as much as it does Paris and other states in between.


Four British missionaries kidnapped by gunmen in Nigeria

October 18, 2017
A militant group pictured in the Niger Delta in 2010. Kidnapping is not uncommon in the area CREDIT:AFP/GETTY
  • Police are trying to rescue the four people, who were taken by gunmen last week
  • They were providing ‘medical care and religious activities’ in Burutu, Delta state
  • Chief Theo Fakama said locals were ‘saddened’ by the kidnapping as the victims
  • Kidnapping for ransom is a common problem in parts of Nigeria 

Four Britons have been kidnapped in Nigeria‘s southern Delta state, a police official said on Wednesday.

The police are attempting to rescue the four people, who were taken by unidentified gunmen on October 13, said Andrew Aniamaka, a spokesman for Delta state police.

He says they include a doctor, his wife and two other men who were involved in preaching and providing medical services to residents.

The four had been providing ‘free medical care and religious activities’ in the Burutu area of Delta state, said Chief Theo Fakama, from the local Enukorowa community.

Four Britons have been kidnapped in Nigeria 's southern Delta state, a police official said on Wednesday. Pictured, Nigerian soldier on patrol (file photo)

Four Britons have been kidnapped in Nigeria ‘s southern Delta state, a police official said on Wednesday. Pictured, Nigerian soldier on patrol (file photo)

Fakama said locals were ‘saddened’ by the kidnapping as the victims had ‘brought succour to residents of the community for the past three years’.

Kidnapping for ransom is a common problem in parts of Nigeria. A number of foreigners have, in the last few years, been kidnapped in the Niger Delta region, which holds most of the country’s crude oil – the country’s economic mainstay.

‘The abductors have not made any contact but we are doing our investigations to know the motive and have them rescued without jeopardising their lives,’ said Aniamaka.

‘Information available to us shows they are missionaries giving free medical services.

‘The victims are of British nationality, two of whom are a couple, and have been rendering humanitarian services in the area for a while.

‘But unfortunately, they didn’t let the authorities know of their presence in the area all this while.

There is a militant group that has been operating in the area and we believe they are the ones behind the abduction 

‘Immediately the militants struck, they whisked the victims to the interior regions of the creek where we believe they are being held for the past five days.’

There was an increase in crime in the southern region last year that coincided with a series of attacks on energy facilities. However, there have been no militant attacks on energy installations so far this year.

On October 14, the Vatican said an Italian priest was kidnapped by gunman just outside Benin City, which is the capital of Edo state and neighbours Delta state to the north.

Delta state commissioner of police Zanna Ibrahim told reporters in the state capital, Asaba, on Tuesday: ‘An anti-kidnapping team is already on the trail of the suspects.’

He suggested the abduction could be linked to a recent military operation against violent crime, which has seen an increase in troops in southern Nigeria.

Nigeria also saw the infamous kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls in the town of Chibok in 2014.

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At least 29 killed in central Nigeria violence

October 17, 2017


© NIGERIA STATE HOUSE/AFP/File / by Salisu SHITU | Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari has issued an appeal to ‘stop the madness’ after the latest spurt of violence targeting people sheltered in a school

JOS (NIGERIA) (AFP) – At least 29 people were killed in a new flare-up of violence in central Nigeria targeting people sheltered in a primary school, prompting President Muhammadu Buhari to issue an appeal to “stop the madness”.The attack happened on Monday in Plateau state, which has been dogged for years by ethnic, sectarian and religious unrest.

Sunday Audu, the head of the Irigwe Community Development Association, said armed men stormed the school in the village of Nkyie Doghwro, in the Bassa area of the state.

Hundreds of local residents had sought refuge there for fear of reprisal attacks, after unidentified assailants killed six cattle herders on Sunday.

“Our people were attacked… with 29 dead, three injured at a school used as a camp and protected by security,” Audu told reporters in the Plateau state capital, Jos, on Monday.

Plateau police spokesman Tyopev Terna confirmed the attack but declined to give a death toll.

Audu blamed the killings on the mostly nomadic Fulani herdsmen, accusing them of being “in denial of sponsoring these attacks”.

But the head of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in Bassa, Umaru Sangare, denied claims they were to blame.

“We have no hand in the attack against the Irigwe, despite the fact that our six men were killed on Sunday and beheaded at Bajju village while grazing,” he said.

“We didn’t take the law into our own hands but reported the incident to the military and police authorities and secured their permission to bury the decapitated bodies.”

– Resource conflict –

Plateau state lies on the dividing line between Nigeria’s mainly Christian south and the mostly Muslim north. It has seen sporadic violence and tensions for decades.

The violence has been attributed to a battle for resources because of drought and desertification in northern Nigeria and the wider Sahel region, forcing herders further south.

Farming communities, most of which are Christian, have complained the herdsmen, who are mainly Muslim, damage their fields and crops with their livestock.

The problem is also linked to wider issues, with the farmers seen as “indigenous” and the herdsmen “foreigners”, even if they have lived in the area for generations.

Fulani leaders say they are deprived of basic rights, such as access to land, education and even political office.

Tensions frequently boil over and more than 10,000 people have been killed in the state since the turn of the century, according to groups tracking the violence.

Last month, the International Crisis Group (ICG) warned in a report that the clashes threatened Nigeria’s national security and were becoming as dangerous as Boko Haram Islamists.

It called for more cooperation and the adoption of measures such as better rural security, designated grazing areas and conflict resolution programmes.

Southern leaders, however, believe President Buhari lacks the political will to tackle the problem, as the Fulani are his kinsmen.

A statement from Buhari’s office on Monday night said he learned of the latest killings “with deep sadness and regret”, giving the death toll as “at least 20”.

“This madness has gone too far,” the emailed statement said.

“(Buhari) has instructed the military and the police to not only bring the violence to an instant end, but to draw up a plan to ensure that there are no further attacks and reprisal attacks by one group against the other,” it added.

by Salisu SHITU

Boko Haram suspects on trial in Nigeria’s Kainji town

October 10, 2017

BBC News

Boko Haram militants
Boko Haram is fighting to create an Islamic state in the region. AFP/BOKO HARAM

The first in a series of trials of more than 6,600 people, accused of being members of militant Islamist group Boko Haram, has opened in Nigeria.

The trials are being held in secret by civilian court judges at a military facility in north-central Kainji town.

Rights activists say they are concerned about the lack of transparency in what have been described as the biggest terrorism trial in Nigeria’s history.

Some 20,000 people have been killed in Boko Haram’s eight-year insurgency.

Only nine people have been convicted so far of being involved in the unrest.

Four judges have started the trials at the military centre in Kainji, sources at the ministry of justice told the BBC’s Ishaq Khalid in the capital, Abuja.

Up to 1,670 people will be tried in the coming weeks with a further 5,000 people after that, our reporter says.

More than 1,600 suspects are being held at the centre, where many have spent years.

In a report in 2015, Amnesty International said that the military had arbitrarily detained about 20,000 people as part of its campaign to end the insurgency.

One man who was held by security forces for nearly three years before being released without charge, told the BBC his family had thought he was dead.

A lengthy process?

The trials are likely to last for months, or even years, because of the huge number of suspects who will be tried individually, Justice Minister Abubakar Malami said.

Boko Haram at a glance

  • Founded in 2002
  • Known locally as Boko Haram, meaning “Western education is forbidden”
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Designated a terrorist group by US in 2013
  • Declared a caliphate in areas it controlled in 2014
  • Most territory now recaptured by army

Who are Boko Haram?

‘How I almost became a suicide bomber’

Barrister Alhassan Muhammad, who represented suspects in Nigeria’s first trial of Boko Haram militants beginning in 2009, says these trials could be very slow starting with the simple fact that each and every defendant’s name must be read out as the court session opens.

Islamist militants who surrender voluntarily are to be offered amnesty by Nigeria’s government, which is also running a deradicalisation programme for those deemed eligible.

Justice Minister Malami says this will programme will apply to Boko Haram members who are found not to be criminally liable.

Boko Haram no longer controls any territory but their presence is still felt in northern Nigeria.

One federal judge, John Tsoho, is reported by local media to have withdrawn himself from a recent trial of Boko Haram suspects because the defendants questioned his integrity.