Africa Media Review for January 19, 2022

Four French Soldiers Wounded in Burkina Faso Bomb Blast: Army
Four French soldiers were wounded in an improvised explosive device blast in northern Burkina Faso, France’s military told AFP Tuesday evening. “(Their) off-road vehicle activated an IED as it left Ouahigouya airport,” the army said in a statement, adding the unit was part of the Barkhane operation, Paris’ deployment in the Sahel against a jihadist insurgency. Four soldiers were wounded, including one seriously, the army said, with the group either evacuated to Mali or France for those in a more serious condition. Burkina Faso has been struggling with jihadist attacks since 2015, when militants linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group began mounting cross-border raids from Mali. More than 2 000 people have died, according to an AFP toll. The flashpoint “tri-border” area is frequently targeted by Islamic State in the Greater Sahara and the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM) with deadly attacks against civilians and soldiers. AFP

Four People Killed, 10 Wounded in Bombing in Somali Capital
At least four people have been killed and 10 others injured in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu by a suicide bombing at a tea shop near a military base, state-run SONNA news agency said. The armed group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack on Tuesday. The attacker walked into a Mogadishu tea shop and detonated an explosive vest, police officer Abdirahman Adan, who was stationed near the scene, told the AFP news agency. The attack came just two days after Somalia’s government spokesman was injured in a bombing in Mogadishu also claimed by al-Shabab. On January 12, several people died in a suicide car bomb blast in a separate attack targeting a busy part of the capital. The spate of attacks came as Somalia limped through a political crisis caused by long-running disagreements about overdue elections. Al Jazeera

Sudanese Barricade Streets as Two-day Civil Disobedience Starts
Sudanese shuttered shops and barricaded streets with burning tyres and rocks on Tuesday, staging angry rallies to protest against one of the bloodiest days since a coup derailed the country’s democratic transition. The civilian anti-coup mobilization might be taking a new turn in Sudan. Responding to the Forces for Freedom and Change, a influencial civilian bloc, call to start two days of civil disobedience on Tuesday protestor barricaded their streets. “Shop closed for mourning”, said a series of small signs posted on the closed outlets at the sprawling Sajane construction supplies market in Khartoum. Security forces on Monday opened fire killing at least seven people as thousands marched against the army’s October 25 takeover. One of the merchants, Othman el-Sherif, was among those shot dead. … Protesters—sometimes numbering in the tens of thousands—have regularly taken to the streets since the coup led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan nearly three months ago. AfricaNews/AFP

UN Calls on Sudan’s Military to End Its Killing Spree of Protesters
The U.N. human rights office has condemned what it says is the brutal, disproportionate use of force by Sudan’s security forces against peaceful protesters, many of whom reportedly are being killed and injured every day. The military mounted a coup d’état against Sudan’s civilian government on October 25. Since then, credible statistics from the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors show state security forces have killed 71 people and injured more than 2,200. Of these, 17 have been killed this year. U.N. monitors report such atrocities occur on an almost daily basis. On Monday, they noted security forces used live ammunition to break up a demonstration in the capital Khartoum, killing seven protesters and injuring dozens. The use of live ammunition is only permissible as a measure of last resort under international law. U.N. human rights spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, said a thorough, independent investigation into these violations must take place promptly. … “Our monitoring of the protests has shown that they are by in large very peaceful. The most force that we have seen used is protesters throwing stones. Nothing at the level of the live ammunition that is being used by the military in responding to the protesters,” she said. VOA

Journalists Network: ‘Stop Crimes against Humanity in Sudan’
The Sudanese Journalists Network has made an “urgent call for an international solidarity campaign to stop the crimes against humanity committed by military forces and militias in Sudan”. … The appeal highlights that “this massacre is not the first, but it is an indication of the coup authorities increasing repression and aggression. It is an extension of a series of crimes against humanity involving members of the armed forces, the police, the forces of the General Intelligence Service, and the notorious ‘popular security’ militias of the former regime which support military coup d’état of October 25 2021. The network says that it has monitored violations including: … Use of military vehicles to run over demonstrators … Raiding hospitals and brutally beating doctors and nurses, arresting the wounded and injured … Preventing the injured from reaching hospitals, and chasing ambulances and motorcycles for paramedics. Raiding houses, brutally beating and abused citizens. Soldiers involved in looting peaceful demonstrators and unarmed citizens found after the demonstrations. Documented rapes of a number of female detainees, sexual abuse and harassment. … Their actions pose a grave threat to the lives of the Sudanese and are protected by coup leaders, the journalists’ network’s statement concludes. Dabanga

Civilians in South Sudan Facing Gross Human Violations: Report
Civilians in South Sudan continue experiencing displacement and suffer from widespread human rights abuses and international crimes, including conflict-based ethnic, political, sexual and gender-based violence, a human rights entity said. African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), in its May-August 2021 report, said human rights violations and international crimes have occurred since the start of the conflict in South Sudan. … At least 98 human rights abuses and international crimes occurred, it noted, citing rape, murder, looting or pillaging, abduction, arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment, forced disappearance, forced displacement, damages to property and recruitment of child soldiers. … “In addition to civilians and local communities being targeted with human rights abuses, an international NGO [Non-Governmental Organization] compound in New Fangak was also attacked, and its members were severely beaten,” partly stated the report. Due to this situation, the monitors could only document incidents until August 2021 and had to stop considering security risks, it stressed. Sudan Tribune

Ten Killed by Floods in Madagascar Capital
At least 10 people have died in flash floods triggered by torrential rain that battered Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo overnight, an interior ministry official said on Tuesday. The victims were killed after “the floods caused landslides and houses collapsed,” Sonia Ray, spokesperson for the ministry’s disaster management office, told AFP. … About 20 districts around the capital of 1.3 million are on red alert for flooding, it said, with built-up urban areas with poor drainage systems seen as especially vulnerable. … “Floods are common in Madagascar, especially during the (October/April) rainy season,” said weather forecaster Lovandrainy Ratovoharisoa, “but yesterday they were exceptionally heavy – 105.3 millimetres in one day”. … The tropical Indian Ocean nation and former French colony off Africa’s southeastern coast is in the midst of a six-month rainy season that often results in casualties and widespread damage. AFP

Nigeria Shoot-to-kill Order Issued over Jail Breaks
Nigeria’s interior minister has ordered prison guards to “shoot to kill” those involved in jailbreaks. Rauf Aregbesola made the comments in an address to prison staff in the southern city of Ibadan, saying anyone who attempts to breach security “must not live to tell the tale”. Over the past year armed groups have attacked various prisons, enabling more 5,000 inmates to escape. … Rights activists have expressed concern that the new policy may be abused by the security forces. Nigeria’s extremely slow judicial system means that about three quarters of almost 70,000 inmates are awaiting trial, according to the BBC’s Ishaq Khalid. The interior minister said this was partly responsible for the frequent jailbreaks. BBC

Sudden Amended Charges Interrupt Nigerian Separatist Leader’s Trial
Nigerian prosecutors added charges against separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu ahead of his trial Tuesday. Kanu’s lawyer describes the new charges as a “joke” and says authorities are trying to expand his time in detention. The amended charges against the separatist were contained in a federal High Court document signed on January 14. But Kanu’s legal team said it received the documents Monday, barely 24 hours before the resumption of his trial. … On Tuesday, presiding Judge Binta Nyako adjourned the trial for one day, faulting authorities’ late notification of the new charges. “You can’t take plea to counts which have not even been given to you,” said Mike Ozekhome who leads Kanu’s legal team. “The last date of adjournment was 2nd of December, so they had well over one month to have done that and served us. They didn’t, so I believe that was intended to frustrate today’s proceedings.” … Kanu is the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra or IPOB, a sect in southeastern Nigeria THAT has been pushing for Biafra to break away from Nigeria for decades.He was arrested by state security agents in June of last year. VOA

Italian Police Arrest Alleged Black Axe Nigerian Mafia Members over Trafficking
Four alleged members of the Nigerian mafia have been arrested in southern Italy after a young sex trafficking survivor spoke out against them. The men, who were arrested in Palermo and Taranto in the early hours of Tuesday, allegedly belong to the feared Black Axe, a cult-like criminal gang that emerged in the 1970s at the University of Benin, according to police. … Before she left Nigeria, like many other victims of sex trafficking, the woman had been made to undergo a traditional oath-taking ceremony involving complicated and frightening rituals often using the women’s blood, hair and clothing. Those carrying out the ritual, which has been found to have a profound psychological impact on victims, make it clear that failure to pay off those debts will result in terrible things happening to the woman and her family. The abuse of religious and cultural belief systems in Nigeria has proved a deadly and highly effective control mechanism for traffickers recruiting women destined for the sex trade in Europe. A hugely profitable and well-organised criminal industry has been operating between Italy and Nigeria for more than two decades but the UN’s International Organization for Migration says it has seen a rise in the number of potential sex-trafficking victims arriving in Italy by sea in the past few years, lured by the promise of work in the country. The Guardian

Bodies Dumped in Kenyan River over Two Years – Police
Kenyan police now say that incidences of decomposing bodies being recovered from a river in the western part of the country have been going on for two years. However police spokesman Bruno Shioso told the BBC that investigations had yet to reveal those responsible or the motive behind the killings. There seems be some discrepancy over the numbers. On Tuesday, activists went to the Yala Sub-County Hospital, about 40km (24 miles) north-west of the lakeside city of Kisumu, and said they counted 20 bodies recovered from River Yala which had been unclaimed. As the hospital only keeps unclaimed bodies for 90 days, they must have been recovered over the last three months. BBC journalists have since seen two more bodies in the river. But in a statement on Wednesday, the National Police Service said it had cases of only 19 bodies being reported over a period of two years. A diver who says he has been helping retrieve the corpses for the last six months believes there could be many more bodies in the river. … Anxious Kenyans are demanding answers, amid allegations that most of the bodies recovered from the river had shown signs of torture. BBC

Rwanda Forcibly Vaccinating People against COVID, Victims Say
Rwanda has been recognized by the World Health Organization as being among the countries to fully vaccinate at least 40% of their populations against COVID-19 by the end of 2021. Currently, more than 49% of almost 13 million Rwandans have been double-jabbed, and more than 61% have had at least one vaccine administered. But some Rwandans say this number is only possible because of force by local leaders and police. DW spoke to some people who said they had been forced to receive vaccinations. For fear of possible consequences, they either chose to remain anonymous or DW decided to leave their names out of the report. A man from the Muhanga district, in Rwanda’s Southern Province, told DW that he was handcuffed in order to receive the jab. … The man recalled that he was forced to sit under the scorching sun until the evening when he got vaccinated. According to him, five police officers and six civilians surrounded him and ordered him into a room. “They pounced on me and dragged me on the ground, manhandling me, shoving their knees in my back and everywhere, as the handcuffs were cutting deep wounds around my wrists,” he said. “They even tried to suffocate me.” Then, according to his statement, medics came and injected a vaccine. … CLADHO, an umbrella body for human rights organizations in Rwanda, told DW in a statement that the groups had seen media reports about forced vaccinations. “CLADHO is in the process of investigating to get a clear picture of the situation.” DW

Appeal in ‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero’s Case Can Proceed without Him, Judge Rules
A Rwandan court ruled on Tuesday that an appeal by prosecutors in a case involving Paul Rusesabagina, who was portrayed in the movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’ sheltering hundreds of people during the 1994 genocide, could proceed in his absence. Rusesabagina, 67, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being found guilty in September of eight terrorism charges related to the activities of an organisation opposed to President Paul Kagame’s rule. He refused to take part in his trial, which was denounced by his supporters as a politically motivated sham. Public prosecutors had asked for a life sentence and had announced after the trial that they would appeal. … Rusesabagina denied all charges against him. His family and supporters say his case is an example of Kagame’s ruthless treatment of political opponents. … Kagame, who has ruled since 1994, denies the accusations and has enjoyed support from Western donors for restoring stability and boosting economic growth. However, human rights groups describe the Rusesabagina case as part of a pattern of intimidating opponents. Reuters

Chad Frees 250 Rebels Ahead of Talks
The transitional authorities in Chad have released from prison the first of some 250 members of armed groups they had promised to set free under an amnesty. Chad’s Justice Minister Ahmat Mahamat Alhabo led a short ceremony at a prison near the capital where 22 detainees who had been convicted of taking up arms against the government were released. Rebel groups have been invited to join national peace-building talks which are due to start next month. One of those officially pardoned, Samedi Torde Tanel, thanked those who made it possible, and said he hoped others could benefit from such a gesture in the future. BBC

Market of 90M People Beckons as DRC Launches Final Stage Talks to Join EAC
The Democratic Republic of Congo has begun penultimate steps to be formally admitted into the East African Community, signalling an additional market of 90 million people for the bloc. In Nairobi on Monday, officials of the bloc launched negotiations with Kinshasa, promising to reach a conclusion before the planned timelines of March this year when the DRC is expected to be rubberstamped by the Community’s Summit as the seventh member. “The EAC Council of Ministers is fully committed to drive this process to a conclusion. We all must jointly work tirelessly towards this venture,” said Adan Mohamed, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs and the current chairman of the Council of Ministers for the bloc. Mohamed spoke Monday at the official launch of negotiations at Nairobi’s Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club, where the bloc will be ticking off crucial requirements for Kinshasa to meet, including agreeing to adopt certain laws on trade tariffs, customs, and movement of labour, to be in harmony with the bloc’s members. And the country says its application to join the bloc is part of bigger plans to create a large and single Common Market in Africa. The East African



Photo: Adam Jones