Africa Media Review for July 2, 2018

Militant Islamist Groups in Africa Show Resiliency over Past Decade
A time-lapse review of violent episodes involving militant Islamist groups in African since 2010 provides insights into the evolution of these actors over the course of this decade. Key highlights include: There has been a steady increase in militant Islamist group activity in Africa since 2010. Over the course of the past 8 years, this translates to a 310-percent increase in violent events (from 675 in 2010 to 2,769 in 2017). (As these episodes include attacks initiated by security forces, this figure also captures the growing military responses to militant Islamist activity over the 8-year period.) Violent episodes involving al Shabaab have comprised between 40 and 70 percent of all militant Islamist group activity in Africa since 2010. … The number of African countries experiencing sustained militant Islamist group activity has grown to 12. … Despite the fragmentation in the number of groups, militant Islamist activity has been focused in five main regions: Mali, the Lake Chad Basin, Somalia, the Maghreb, and the Sinai Peninsula. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

5 Civilians Dead in Mogadishu Mortar Attack
At least five civilians were killed and more than 10 others wounded after al-Shabab militants fired mortars in a residential areas of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. Security Ministry Spokesman Abdulaziz Ali Ibrahim confirmed to VOA Somali the casualties were the results of a mortar attack. Security experts in Mogadishu told VOA Somali three 60mm mortars landed near mid-day in a civilian neighborhood in Wadajir district near the headquarters of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) at Mogadishu airport. The al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the attack Sunday and said it targeted the AU forces headquarters. U.N. Deputy Special Representative for Somalia Peter de Clercq says such attacks by al-Shabab are a “desperate” activity by the militant group. “These are hit and run attacks, they take extremely high risks themselves in that respect of being detected, but they were willing to take those risks,” de Clercq told VOA during an interview in Mogadishu. “Desperate people are very difficult to stop, they have no concern for their own security, safety or lives, that is clearly the case here.” VOA

Car Bomb Kills 4 in Mali, 3rd Extremist Attack in 3 Days
A suicide car bomb aimed at a patrol of French soldiers has killed four civilians Sunday in Gao in northern Mali, said officials. The suspected extremist attack is the third in three days in Mali, which is preparing for presidential elections on July 29. “French soldiers in armored vehicles were patrolling … when a gray-colored 4X4 car drove by them before exploding,” said Atayoub Maiga, a Gao resident who witnessed the explosion. “I saw French helicopters coming to the scene of the attack and evacuating wounded,” he said. According to the Malian Ministry of Homeland Security said that 31 were wounded, including eight French soldiers. This is the third attack targeting military forces in Mali in the past three days. Two soldiers and one civilian were killed on Friday in the car bomb attack on the G5 Sahel force command post in the central town of Sevare. The al-Qaida affiliate in Mali has claimed responsibility for that attack. On Saturday at least four Malian soldiers were killed when their vehicle hit a land mine in the Koro area in central Mali. Washington Post

Boko Haram Kills Four in Nigeria Displaced Civilians Camp
Boko Haram jihadists killed four people during a raid on a camp for civilians displaced by the Islamist group’s violent insurgency in Nigeria’s troubled northeast, security sources said on Saturday. The gunmen entered the camp in the town of Banki near the border with Cameroon on bicycles and on foot Friday night and opened fire. “Boko Haram terrorists entered Banki IDP (internally displaced people) camp last night and killed four people, injured four others and took supplies away with them,” a military officer in the town told AFP. The shots drew the attention of soldiers and policemen outside the camp, who then engaged the militants in an hour-long gun battle, said the officer, who asked not to be named. … “From all indications, they came to steal food supplies.” News24

South Sudanese Cease-Fire Violated Hours After It Began
The cease-fire agreement signed by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebels was violated Saturday just hours after it began, with both sides accusing the other of initiating attacks in the east-central African nation. Rebel spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel accused government forces of attacking rebel positions on the outskirts of the northwestern South Sudanese city of Wau, barely six hours after the cease-fire took effect. Government spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told the Associated Press that the opposition attacked, saying, “They have a loose leadership. They’re not controlled by anyone.” Kiir and rival Riek Machar, Kiir’s former deputy, signed a cease-fire agreement Wednesday after face-to-face talks in neighboring Sudan’s capital of Khartoum. VOA

IGAD Delays ‘Punitive’ Measures on South Sudan Peace Violators
The IGAD Council of Ministers said it decided not to pursue punitive measures on the violators of the cessation of hostilities deal in South Sudan after the latest developments in the peace process. The IGAD Council of Ministers held a meeting in Nouakchott, Mauritania on 30 June, on the sideline of African Union to discuss the progress in the revitalization process. In a statement extended to Radio Tamazuj on Sunday, the Council welcomed the progress being made by the HLRF parties in the ongoing talks in Khartoum and the declaration of a permanent ceasefire in South Sudan. “The Council also observed that, given the latest developments in the peace process and the need to implement the permanent ceasefire and achieve an inclusive peace agreement, it is not helpful to pursue punitive measures at this stage,” partly reads the statement. The Council appealed to the African Union Ad-Hoc Committee for South Sudan, and all international partners and friends of South Sudan, to continue supporting the region’s effort to bring peace and implementation of its outcome. Radio Tamazuj

AU Boss Wants Action against South Sudan Leaders
The African Union has called for action against South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel Riek Machar for violating the recent peace agreement. The AU Commission chairman, Dr Mousa Faki Mahamat, appealed to continental leaders to take unified tough measures against the two leaders for their reluctance to commit to end the war. Dr Mahamat, in a statement issued on Saturday at the AU summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania, said the two leaders were notorious for disregarding peace deals. “We are used to them not respecting their commitments,” the AU chief said, referring to President Kiir and Dr Machar. “The situation in South Sudan is serious. We have to send a clear message to the players to respect their commitments,” he added. The East African

Spanish Rescuers ‘Told by Italy to Stay Away from Dinghy in Distress’
The crew of a Spanish rescue ship have said that Italian officials told them to let the Libyan coastguard respond to a distress call from a smuggling boat carrying migrants – only to hear shortly afterward that 100 migrants were missing and feared dead in the same area. The account by Proactiva Open Arms – a Spanish NGO – came as EU leaders in Brussels signed a deal aimed at controlling migration that steps up support for the Libyan coastguard and demands that humanitarian and other ships operating in the Mediterranean do not obstruct their operations. The moves are part of efforts to stop smugglers from operating out of the lawless north African nation. … In the latest incident, the Open Arms head of mission, Ricardo Canardo, said the group’s crew intercepted a radio transmission at about 8am on Friday between European military officials and the Libyan coastguard giving details of a rubber dinghy in distress with at least 100 migrants onboard. But an official distress signal was only received by ships in the region on the Navtex navigation system 90 minutes later. The Guardian

Spanish Rescue Boat Saves 60 Migrants off Libyan Coast
A Spanish rescue boat plucked 60 migrants from a rubber dinghy in the sea near Libya on Saturday, prompting Italy’s hard-line interior minister to immediately announce it won’t be allowed to dock in any Italian port. The vessel, run by Spanish humanitarian group Proactiva Open Arms, said it rescued the migrants – including five women, a nine-year-old child and three teenagers – after it spotted a rubber boat patched with duct tape floating in the sea. All the migrants appeared in good health. Italy’s right-wing Interior Minister Matteo Salvini quickly responded, saying the boat “can forget about arriving in an Italian port.” He claimed the boat should go to Malta, the nearest port. But Malta swiftly pushed back, with its interior minister contending the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, south of Sicily, was closer. News24

African Union Leaders Open 2-Day Summit
Thirty African leaders are meeting in Mauritania for a two-day summit focusing on fighting corruption and dealing with the continent’s humanitarian and security crises. At the opening of the summit Sunday, host Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz warned of security failings in the region as four civilians were killed in an attack targeting a French patrol in Mali. Aziz called for taking a comprehensive approach to deal with extremist attacks. … The Mauritanian president also warned that if Africa fails to stop corruption, it will not be able to spur economic development. VOA

Somalia Connection in Sugar Smuggling Syndicate Revealed
The sugar wars that are threatening to unravel the Jubilee ruling coalition have focused mostly on the product that is imported by scores of licensed traders. But, unknown to many Kenyans, a significant amount of sugar consumed in the country is contraband Brazilian product imported via the Kismayu port and smuggled in through the porous Somalia border. A study by a Danish think-tank shows how political, business, bureaucratic and security interests in Somalia and Kenya are fuelling the smuggling that threatens the country’s political and economic stability. It describes the smuggling as a “dangerous, lucrative and highly political business.’’ … It names a former governor and a leading politician from northern Kenya as some of the top politicians involved in the trade. There are at least 70 businessmen in Kismayu, Garissa and Nairobi who operate lucrative rings that earn them millions of dollars a year. Daily Nation

Censored, Harassed and Arrested: DR Congo’s Politicised Media
Congolese journalists covering the anti-government protests that have rocked the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for the past year and a half are telling vastly different stories, depending on the outlet they work for. In a media landscape that is heavily politicised, reporters are presenting conflicting narratives, too often based on political interests rather than facts. Nearly 15 years since the end of the civil war, the majority of the DRC’s media outlets – approximately 80 percent – are in the hands, or under direct control, of politicians. To explain why this is the case, you have to rewind a couple of decades, to the 1990s, when the 30-year rule of President Mobutu Sese Seko officially came to an end. Al Jazeera

Burundi: UN Commission of Inquiry Still Regrets Government Unwillingness to Cooperate
In a 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council held in Geneva on June 27, Doudou Diène, chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into Burundi has said human rights violations committed in Burundi have been fostered by “a continuing climate of threats and intimidation”. “I regret that Burundi persists refusing to cooperate with the commission, which would make it possible to include the government views in the final report,” he says. He also regretted that the government had not consented to the resumption of the activities of the Office of UN High Commission for Human Rights which was suspended in 2016. The commission accuses the ruling party’s youth league -Imbonerakure of being the main cause of the abuses committed during the recent referendum campaign. “The commission of inquiry has received testimonies of numerous arrests of people who called to vote “no” in the referendum or refused to join the ruling CNDD-FDD,” says Françoise Hampson, one of the members of the Commission of Inquiry into Burundi. Iwacu

How Buhari’s Govt Detained Nigerian Journalist for Two Years Without Trial
For almost two years, Jones Abiri has not been seen nor heard from. Married with a wife and five children, Jones would have celebrated his 50th birthday on June 4 this year. Jones was a 300-Level student aspiring for his first degree in Law from the National Open University of Nigeria. All that is in the past. Now, Mr Abiri remains in a state of forced disappearance as the State Security Service (SSS), Nigeria’s secret police, has detained him for over 700 days without trial, and without access to his family, lawyers, and doctors. Under international human rights law, a person is a victim of (en)forced disappearance if detained by state authorities or a third party with the authorisation of the state, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the person’s whereabouts and condition in a bid to deny the victim the protection of the law. Premium Times

Fake News and Nigeria’s Herder Crisis
Fake pictures circulating on social media which users are falsely claiming depict inter-communal violence are inflaming already high tensions in Nigeria. It comes after three days of violence left more than 200 people dead in the centre of the country. A gruesome image of a woman face down in a pool of blood with a gaping shoulder wound is purported to be from the recent attacks. It has hundreds of retweets on Twitter, but it first appeared on the internet in 2011 in a story about domestic violence in Nigeria. … Misinformation and fake news in Nigeria is nothing new. In some cases, the lack of official information has created a vacuum which has been filled by rumours. This only serves to escalate tensions further. … As criticism of the government’s handling of the crisis grows , there are fears that fake news could result in further violence. BBC

Why Has China Invited African Army Chiefs to Beijing?
China’s economic influence as an investor and trade partner continues to grow in Africa and new strategies are being discussed to ensure the security of Chinese business interests and investments. Emphasizing Beijing’s strategic interest in Africa, China’s Ministry of National Defense invited high-ranking military representatives from 50 African countries to the first China-Africa Defense and Security Forum. The forum began on Tuesday in Beijing and is set to run until July 10. … Over the past decade, arms exports have become an integral part of China’s security cooperation with Africa. China’s exports of military gear to the continent have increased 55 percent in the five-year period from 2013 to 2017, compared to the preceding five years. … The increase in weapons exports corresponds with the surge in foreign investment from China, which in Africa increased from around $40 billion in 2012 to $90 billion in 2016. DW



Photo: Adam Jones