Africa Media Review for July 6, 2020

South Sudan: 38 Killed in Fresh Attack in Duk County
At least 38 people were killed and 44 others injured in a fresh attack that occurred on Duk Padiet town in Duk County of Jonglei state on Friday, officials said. The attack, blamed on an armed group from the greater Pibor area, comes amid reports of ongoing clashes in Pibor’s Gumuruk area between Murle youth and their counterparts from Jonglei. “Duk Padiet town was attacked at 6 am. 38 people, including five children and six women, were killed. Five homes were burnt to ashes. Those attackers are armed Murle youth in military uniforms,” Elijah Manyok, the executive director of Duk County, told Radio Tamazuj.   He expressed fears of a rise in the death toll from the attack.  “44 people were injured, some with serious wounds. Also, the national government banned airlifting of the wounded to Juba for treatment, so the death toll may rise because there are no specialists and drugs in Duk,” added. Radio Tamazuj

At Least Thirty Villagers Massacred in Central Mali Terror Attacks
Unidentified armed men massacred 31 civilians in simultaneous attacks on several Mali villages this week, then killed nine soldiers responding to the assault as violence surges in the country’s conflict-wracked centre. … Armed uniformed men travelling in pick-up trucks attacked four Dogon villages on Wednesday, one local official said by telephone, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons. The attack left at least 30 dead, including women, children, and the elderly, while others were missing, the official added. … A military unit was dispatched to the area, and helped bury 31 bodies on Wednesday, army spokesman Colonel Diarran Kone told AFP. “Just at the entrance, the FAMa (Malian Armed Forces) walked into an ambush,” he said, adding that nine soldiers were killed and two wounded. AFP

Attacks in Somalia Leave at Least 5 Dead
Devastating assaults, occurring almost daily and often in the capital, Mogadishu, have put a strain on the country’s fragile government. … In the capital, Mogadishu, a suicide car bomber targeted a tax collection center in the Hamar Jajab district in the city’s southeast, the Somali Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism said in a statement. While security officers were able to stop the attacker from reaching the collection center, the blast damaged a nearby wall and wounded six people, including police officers. The bomber died in the attack. In Baidoa, the capital of the southwestern Bay region, a land mine detonated near a restaurant on the outskirts of the city, killing five people and wounding 10 others, government officials said. The New York Times

Ethiopian Police Patrol Oromia Area and Capital after Unrest
Ethiopian police were patrolling the country’s troubled Oromia region and the capital, Addis Ababa, on Sunday, following a week of unrest in which 166 people were killed and more than 2,000 arrested, after a popular singer was shot dead. In Oromia, 145 civilians and 11 members of security forces were killed, Girma Gelam, deputy police commissioner in the region, told the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate. Another 10 people were killed in the capital, eight of them civilians. The internet was cut last week to try to dampen the protests and made it difficult for rights monitors to track the scores of killings. More than 2,280 people were arrested in Oromia and Addis Ababa, said police. Arrests included that of a well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, and more than 30 supporters. It is not clear what charges they might face. AP

Suspected Jihadists Fire on UN Aid Copter in Nigeria; 2 Dead
Suspected Islamic extremists opened fire on a U.N. aid helicopter in northeastern Nigeria over the weekend, killing two civilians in an escalation of hostilities in the long troubled region. President Muhammadu Buhari blamed the attack on militants linked to the extremist group Boko Haram, and warned Sunday evening it “would not go without severe consequences.” “Boko Haram terrorists are clearly on the back foot and their increasing attacks on innocent civilians, including U.N. humanitarian workers, is part of their desperation to prove that they are strong in order to cover up their dwindling fortunes,” the president said in a statement. … Edward Kallon, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, said the victims included a 5-year-old child. The crew members were not hurt and there were no aid workers on board when bullets hit the helicopter in Borno state. AP

Pirates Kidnap Nine on Norwegian Oil Ship off Nigeria
Pirates attacked a Norwegian vessel off the coast of Nigeria on Thursday and kidnapped nine Nigerian nationals onboard, the ship’s Norwegian owner BW Offshore said. The Sendje Berge, an offshore support vessel for the oil and gas industry, came under attack at 03:20 GMT, BW Offshore said in a filing to the Oslo Stock Exchange. There has been no news on the nine Nigerians since they were taken, but nobody remaining on board the ship had been hurt, according to the statement. At the time of the attack, the Sendje Berge was working at the Okwori oilfield on behalf of China’s Addax Petroleum. The Defense Post

Cameroon Government Says It Stepped up Security after Bombings in Capital City
Cameroon says it has deployed more troops in the capital Yaoundé after yet another bomb exploded, leaving at least 20 people severely wounded. No one has claimed responsibility, but it is suspected that separatists fighting for the creation of an English-speaking state in Cameroon and people who escaped from prison a month ago are responsible. Naseri Paul Bea, governor of the Central Region, where Yaoundé is located, says he convened a security meeting Friday night because there has been mounting insecurity in the capital city. He says he is calling on the clergy and traditional rulers to help bring peace back to the city. VOA

Cameroon Holds First Peace Talks with Main Separatist Group
Representatives of Cameroon’s government have held talks with the main leaders of an Anglophone separatist group for the first time since the conflict began in 2017, a separatist leader and two security sources said on Friday. Julius Ayuk Tabe, the most prominent separatist leader who is currently serving a life sentence in prison for charges including “terrorism,” said the meeting took place on Thursday to discuss the possibility of a ceasefire. … Last year, Switzerland mediated talks between the government and exiled separatist leaders, but those leaders are considered less influential than Tabe and the discussions did not produce any significant results. Tabe, the self-declared president of an independent English-speaking state the separatists call Ambazonia, said nine separatist leaders participated in the meeting, which followed calls by the United Nations for a ceasefire. Al Jazeera

Airstrikes Hit Libya Base Held by Turkey-Backed Forces
Libyan officials in the capital of Tripoli said Sunday that overnight airstrikes hit a key military base on the city’s outskirts that was recently retaken by Turkey-backed forces. A spokesman for the Tripoli-based forces, Col. Mohamed Gnounou, said the strikes were carried out by “foreign jets” allied with military commander Khalifa Hifter. … The airstrikes late Saturday on the al-Waitya airbase in the desert southwestern of Tripoli destroyed military equipment recently brought in by Turkey, including air-defense systems, according to officials in Tripoli. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. … Turkey’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that the airstrikes damaged some systems at the base, but did not elaborate on what kind of systems. The Tripoli-allied forces had wrested control of the base in May after launching weeks of attacks using Turkish-supplied drones. AP

DR Congo Troops Kill Angolan Soldier in Border Incident
An Angolan soldier was killed on Sunday by DR Congo troops after a tense incident and an exchange of gunfire along their border, according to local DR Congo officials. It was the latest incident between the two armies in the Kasai region along the border, where DR Congo officials complain Angolan forces often violate the frontier. Kasai province Interior Minister Deller Kawino told AFP the Angolan soldier had opened fire on Congolese intelligence officers in Kasai in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo. One of the officers was wounded. DR Congo troops returned fire and killed him, said Kawino. The Defense Post

Sudan’s Hamdok Dismisses National Police Chief
Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, relieved the Director-General of the Police Forces Lt Gen Adel Bashaer, and his deputy, Lt Gen Osman Mohamed Younis. The dismissal of the police leaders comes in response to the protests that took place on June 30, as millions took to the streets in the capital, Khartoum, and many other cities to press the government to reform the state institutions particularly the security services. In a separate decision, Hamdok dismissed Lt Gen Younis, from his position as the Deputy Director-General of the Police Forces. … Hamdok had announced on 29 June that he will make several important decisions in response to the demands of the Sudanese street. He is now expected to appoint the long-time delayed state governors in the upcoming days. Sudan Tribune

George Floyd’s Killing Prompts Africans to Call for Police Reform at Home
Outrage over Mr. Floyd’s death has rippled throughout the continent, with Africans invoking the Black Lives Matter movement to call attention to abuses in their own countries and demand that the police be held to account. The protesters also point to the enduring legacy of European rule. Many African countries’ police forces were established in the colonial era and, analysts say, are still used by governments as an instrument of repression and control. Sick of killings, torture and beatings meted out, citizens are increasingly trying to push governments to reform the abusive institutions they inherited from colonial rulers. … Africans have long feared the violent methods used by police forces on the continent, but their alarm has become more immediate in recent months as the new coronavirus has taken hold, and governments have used heavy-handed tactics to enforce lockdowns.The New York Times

AU Rights Leader Warns of Human Rights Disaster
“The first worry that I have is that the socioeconomic and humanitarian fallout from the Covid-19 response measures may descend into a human rights catastrophe as millions of peoples lose jobs or have their livelihoods in the informal sectors wiped out, and are pushed into extreme poverty; and as millions of others face hunger and starvation,” said Solomon Dersso, the chair of the African Union Commission on Human and People’s Rights, in an interview with the Mail & Guardian. … At the same time, Africa’s demographics – an overwhelmingly youthful population, and projected to become even more so – may count against it as economic opportunities diminish. “It gives you a very explosive combination that can be a recipe for political instability.” Mail & Guardian

Africa Starts Opening Airspace Even as COVID-19 Cases Climb
As COVID-19 cases surged in many parts of the world, the island nation of the Seychelles was looking good: 70-plus straight days without a single infection. Then the planes arrived. Two chartered Air Seychelles flights carrying more than 200 passengers also brought the coronavirus. A few tested positive. Then, between June 24 and 30, the country’s confirmed cases shot from 11 to 81. Now the Indian Ocean nation has delayed reopening for commercial flights for its lucrative tourism industry until Aug. 1, if all goes well. African nations face a difficult choice as infections are rapidly rising: Welcome the international flights that originally brought COVID-19 to the ill-prepared continent, or further hurt their economies and restrict a lifeline for badly needed humanitarian aid. AP

Africa’s Locust Outbreak Is Far from Over
The crunch of young locusts comes with nearly every step. The worst outbreak of the voracious insects in Kenya in 70 years is far from over, and their newest generation is now finding its wings for proper flight. The livelihoods of millions of already vulnerable people in East Africa are at stake, and people like Boris Polo are working to limit the damage. The logistician with a helicopter firm is on contract with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, helping to find and mark locust swarms for the targeted pesticide spraying that has been called the only effective control. … For months, a large part of East Africa has been caught in a cycle with no end in sight as millions of locusts became billions, nibbling away the leaves of both crops and the brush that sustains the livestock so important to many families. “The risk of significant impact to both crops and rangelands is very high,” the regional IGAD Climate Prediction & Applications Center said Wednesday in a statement. AP

Could Malawi’s Historic Re-Run Election Inspire Africa?
The opposition triumph in Malawi’s recent landmark election re-run after last year’s fraudulent polls were overturned could spur similar democratic change across the continent, analysts and historians say. Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party comfortably won the June 23 election with 58.5% of the vote — beating Peter Mutharika, whose re-election last year was nullified by the courts over “widespread and systematic” irregularities. Chakwera’s official inauguration is set for Monday, to coincide with the country’s 56th anniversary of independence from Britain. AFP



Photo: Adam Jones