Africa Media Review for April 24, 2023

60 People Killed by Men in Military Uniforms in Burkina Faso
At least 60 people were killed by men in military uniforms in northern Burkina Faso, authorities said. The killings took place in the area of Barga, in Yatenga province, the injured have been evacuated to hospitals and an investigation into the killings has been opened, said Lamine Traore, Burkina Faso’s prosecutor, in a statement Sunday. “My office was alerted about the seriousness of some of the facts. I therefore gave instructions to the investigation unit to carry out investigations in order to illuminate the said facts and hear all the people who are involved,” he said. … Since Capt. Ibrahim Traore seized power in September during the second coup, extrajudicial killings of civilians have increased according to rights groups and residents. … As jihadis intensify attacks — the government controls less than 50% of the territory in the country — the junta is becoming increasingly overwhelmed, conflict analysts say. “The junta is struggling to convince the public that it will uphold its main promise of improving security,” said Mucahid Durmaz, senior analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, a global risk intelligence firm. AP

Mali: Wave of Bloodshed Kills Ten Civilians and Three Soldiers
Ten civilians and three soldiers were killed and 88 jihadists “neutralised” in multiple incidents across Mali Saturday, the government said, in a wave of bloodshed it described as a resurgence of “terrorist incidents.” Early Saturday morning, suspected jihadists attacked the Sevare airport area in the central Mopti region, detonating car bombs, which killed 10 civilians and injured 61 others, the government said in a statement. The blasts destroyed some houses in the airport’s surrounding area, which is home to a Malian military camp. … Two local elected officials and a diplomatic source, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, referred to the base as a “Russian” camp. Mali’s junta in 2022 began working with what it calls Russian military “instructors”. Opponents say these are mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner group. “It is the Russian camp and their planes that have been targeted – the camp is near the airport,” an elected official told AFP. Le Monde with AFP

[JNIM] Claims Responsibility for Attack That Killed Chief of Staff of Mali Junta Leader
Jihadists linked with Al-Qaeda have claimed responsibility for an attack this week that killed the chief of staff of Mali’s junta leader, and another ambush, the SITE Intelligence monitoring group said Friday, April 21. Oumar Traore, chief of staff for Colonel Assimi Goita, the transitional president, was among several people who died in an ambush Tuesday near the Mauritanian border, according to a document from the Malian presidency. Traore was part of a team that was accompanying engineers to scout for sites to drill for water, who came under attack some 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of the capital Bamako. The presidency said three others also died. … On Friday, Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had killed Traore and two members of the army, according to a statement reported by SITE, which monitors jihadist websites. The group also claimed to have taken two hostages. In the same statement, JNIM claimed to have carried out a separate attack on Wednesday that killed seven soldiers in an ambush between Sokolo and Farabougou in central Mali. Le Monde with AFP

Rwandan President Kagame’s Special Role in West Africa’s Troubled States
Rwanda is set to expand its military operations in West Africa, with Benin being the latest candidate for deployment to help it secure its borders from insurgents operating in the neighbouring Sahel region. While details of the deployment are yet to be made public, President Paul Kagame and Benin’s Patrice Talon confirmed the plans for military cooperation, during the Rwandan leader’s whirlwind tour of the region this week. … The expected deployment will be Rwanda’s third after similar bilateral arrangements that saw Kigali send troops to Mozambique to fight insurgents, and the Central African Republic for peacekeeping, including a special protection force during the country’s presidential election. Analysts blame the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel region partly on the declining influence of France in the region, which has widened the security vacuum. This was after Paris was forced to withdraw troops from Mali in August 2022 after a deployment in the country of almost 10 years. Its withdrawal undermined the work of the G5 Sahel force, which included troops from Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, set up in 2017 to counter armed groups across the region. EastAfrican

Libyan Warlord Could Plunge Sudan into a Drawn-Out ‘Nightmare’ Conflict
The Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar helped to prepare the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a militia now fighting for control of Sudan, for battle in the months before the devastating violence that broke out on 15 April, the Observer has been told by former officials, militia commanders and sources in Sudan and the UK. The involvement of Haftar, who runs much of the eastern part of Libya, will raise fears of a long-drawn-out conflict in Sudan fuelled by outside interests. … Haftar’s connection with Hemedti goes back to well before the fall of Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s veteran authoritarian ruler, after months of popular protests in 2019. However, the relationship has grown warmer in recent years, with Hemedti sending mercenaries to Libya to fight alongside Haftar’s military force, the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), the sources said. Hemedti and Haftar have also collaborated on a range of highly profitable smuggling operations, with middle-ranking commanders in both their militias forging close links as they manage the transit of valuable illicit cargos between the two countries, experts told the Observer. In recent weeks, as conflict between the RSF and Burhan’s forces loomed, Haftar made efforts to support Hemedti, the sources said. These have been carefully calibrated, however, as neither Haftar nor his international sponsors, the United Arab Emirates and Russia, want to commit entirely to one side in a conflict whose likely outcome remains unclear. Observer

Sudan Unrest: Evacuations Intensify as US Warns of Humanitarian Crisis
The US has warned of shortages of vital medicines, food and water in Sudan and deployed disaster response experts to the region, as efforts intensified to evacuate foreign diplomats and citizens from Khartoum. … With a series of ceasefires failing to hold, the death toll in Sudan has now passed 420, including 264 civilians, and more than 3,700 have been wounded, according to local and international NGOs. However, most analysts believe the true total of fatalities and injuries in more than nine days of fighting is much higher. As battles raged in the centre of the Sudanese capital and in its twin city of Omdurman, Samantha Power, the head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) painted a grim picture of the reality on the ground. … “All of this suffering compounds an already dire situation: one third of Sudan’s population, nearly 16 million people, already needed humanitarian assistance to meet basic human needs before this outbreak of violence.” … Internet and phone services appeared to have collapsed across much of country on Sunday. Medicine, fuel and food were scarce in much of Khartoum, while a combination of fighting and looting made leaving home to search for essential provisions dangerous. Guardian

Sudan Fighting: Khartoum Violence Mapped as Civilians Flee City
Life in Sudan’s capital Khartoum has been turned on its head. Once a vibrant metropolis, residents are now living in a war zone. Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are locked in brutal street combat as helicopters and fighter jets roar overhead. Information coming out of the city is patchy, and access for journalists is difficult in a country where media freedom is already restricted. But the BBC has combed through dozens of videos, mapped the fighting, and spoken to some of the city’s 5.4 million residents to uncover how air strikes and artillery have devastated the heart of Khartoum. One of them, Dallia Mohamed Abdelmoniem, said the “empty frightened streets” made Khartoum feel like a ghost town, with people “huddled in their houses not knowing what’s going to happen next.” … As the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr dawned in Sudan on Friday morning, marking the end of Ramadan for Muslims in the country, residents told the BBC that fighting had continued, with consistent volleys of gunfire exchanged BBC

Ethiopia PM Says Negotiations with OLA Set to Begin This Week
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has said that his government will begin negotiations with the rebel group the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) in Tanzania this week. This is the first time the Ethiopian government has formally said it would negotiate with the OLA, which has been battling the government on and off for decades. “A negotiation with Oneg Shene will start a day after tomorrow in Tanzania,” Abiy said on Sunday, using another name for the OLA. There was no immediate statement from OLA. The OLA is an outlawed splinter group of the Oromo Liberation Front, a formerly banned opposition party that returned from exile after Abiy took office in 2018. The group’s grievances are rooted in the alleged marginalisation of the Oromo people and neglect by the federal government. Al Jazeera

Powerful Former Premier Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni Arrested in Burundi
Burundian authorities have arrested former prime minister Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, seven months after his sacking in a high-level political purge, the country’s human rights commission and a top security source said Saturday. Bunyoni, detained on the eve of his 51th birthday, was prime minister from mid-2020 to September 2022 but was fired in a major reshuffle after President Evariste Ndayishimiye took office in 2020. A former police chief and minister of internal security, he was replaced by then interior minister Gervais Ndirakobuca, days after Ndayishimiye had warned of a “coup” plot against him. Police and intelligence officers had searched three properties belonging to Bunyoni on Monday, but found no trace of him, according to security sources and media reports. Bunyoni had long been seen as de facto number two in the regime since a 2015 political crisis. … Although the international community has noted a relative opening up of the country since Ndayishimiye took office following the sudden death of predecessor Pierre Nkurunziza, a UN rights committee in September 2021 dubbed Burundi’s rights situation “disastrous.” AFP

Malaria Cases Spike in Malawi, Pakistan after ‘Climate-Driven’ Disasters
Extreme weather events in Malawi and Pakistan have driven “very sharp” rises in malaria infections and deaths, a global health chief said ahead of World Malaria Day on 25 April. … In Malawi, Cyclone Freddy in March triggered six months’ worth of rainfall in six days, causing cases there to spike too, Peter Sands, head of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, told AFP in an interview. … “What we’ve seen in places like Pakistan and Malawi is real evidence of the impact that climate change is having on malaria,” he said. “So you have these extreme weather events, whether flooding in Pakistan, or the cyclone in Malawi, leaving lots of stagnant water around the place. “And we saw a very sharp uptick in infections and deaths from malaria in both places,” he said ahead of World Malaria Day on 25 April. … “There’s an almost perfect overlap so we are very concerned that the countries in which malaria is more prevalent… are also the countries that are most likely to get hit by the extreme weather events that climate change generates,” he added. News24