Media Review for August 3, 2015

Burundi’s De Facto Internal Security Chief Killed in Rocket Attack on Car
A top Burundian general was assassinated on Sunday when his car was hit by rockets and raked with bullets, an audacious murder that could plunge the African nation into fresh conflict. Adolphe Nshimirimana was arguably the most powerful man in Burundi after president Pierre Nkurunziza and had been accused of ordering brutal crackdowns on anti-government protesters. Rebels showed their ability to strike at the heart of the regime when Nshimirimana’s pick-up was ambushed, hit by two rockets and sprayed with automatic gunfire in the capital, Bujumbura, on Sunday morning, police and witnesses said. He was taken from the vehicle and later died from his wounds. His bodyguards were also killed. The Guardian

Burundi Civil Society Leader Demands Protection for Citizens
The assassination of an army general is creating panic and confusion throughout Burundi, according to the leader of the Forum for Strengthening the Civil Society (FORSC). Vital Nshimirimana said, “Now that a senior army office can be killed in the street, this is a matter of global concern from the population because they all know that they are not protected.” Until his assassination General Adolphe Nshimirimana was a top aide to President Pierre Nkurunziza. The general’s car was reportedly hit in a rocket attack in the capital, Bujumbura on Sunday. He was a former intelligence chief and a former chief of staff. VOA

AFP Correspondent In Burundi Detained, Badly Beaten
Burundian journalist and AFP correspondent Esdras Ndikumana said he was arrested by government security forces and badly beaten on Sunday at the scene of the assassination of a top general. Ndikumana, who also works for France’s RFI radio, said he was taking pictures at the site of the attack in the capital Bujumbura when he was arrested by members of the National Intelligence Service (SNR) and taken to their offices. He was held for around two hours, during with he said he was subjected to severe beatings on his back, legs and the soles of his feet. He was then released and hospitalised, with the injuries also including a suspected broken finger. AFP on Yahoo News

Nigeria Boko Haram Crisis: Army Rescues 178 People
The Nigerian military says it has rescued 178 people from the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in northern Borno state. In a statement released on Sunday, it said that 101 of those freed were children and a further 67 were women. The statement did not say if the girls abducted from a school in Chibok in April 2014 were among them. The military also says that a Boko Haram commander was captured and several camps were cleared. Boko Haram has killed some 5,500 civilians in Nigeria since 2014. BBC

Nigerian Ground and Air Forces Repel Boko Haram Attack in Borno State
Nigerian ground forces, with the help of airstrikes by the Nigerian Air Force, were able to repel a Boko Haram assault on a village in Borno state, according to officials. The NAF used Alpha Jets to run close air support for Nigerian ground troops defending the village of Bita, in Nigeria’s volatile northeast. “Consequently, a large number of the insurgents were killed and several others injured,” Air Commodore Dele Alonge, director of public relations and information for the NAF, said in a statement Sunday. The incident comes after President Muhammadu Buhari replaced each of Nigeria’s military chiefs last month. Former Chief of Air Staff Adesola Amosu was among those sacked, with Air Vice Marshal Sadeeq Abubakar taking over his position and pledging an increase in air attacks against Boko Haram. UPI

Benin Pledges 800 Troops to Anti-Boko Haram Force
Benin’s president has vowed to contribute 800 troops to a regional force intended to combat the Nigeria-based Islamic extremist group Boko Haram. Thomas Boni Yayi made the announcement Saturday during a visit from Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari that coincided with Benin’s independence anniversary. “This is an opportunity for Benin to express solidary with countries on the front line against the Islamic sect, Boko Haram. This solidary will result in the sending of a contingent of 800 men from Benin’s army,” Boni Yayi said. Deployment of the regional force has been delayed for lack of funds. At a meeting in Cameroon in February, Nigeria and a group of neighboring countries that also includes Chad, Cameroon and Niger agreed to deploy around 8,700 troops, with Benin pledging 250. AP on Yahoo News

US and Egypt Resume Formal Security Talks Amid Human Rights Concerns
Despite persistent human rights concerns, the US on Sunday resumed formal security talks with Egypt that were last held six years ago. The talks were kept on hiatus amid the political unrest that swept the country in the wake of the Arab Spring. Egypt court further postpones verdict in al-Jazeera journalists’ retrial Read more Two days after the US delivered eight F-16 warplanes as part of a military support package that the Obama administration is boosting to help Egypt counter an increasing terrorist threat, Secretary of State John Kerry restarted the so-called “strategic dialogue” with Egyptian officials in Cairo. The dialogue was last held in 2009 and did not occur following the ouster of Egypt’s authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Kerry said the administration was committed to working with Egypt to enhance its military capabilities as it confronts growing threats from extremists, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula. That aid had been on hold until earlier this year due to human rights and democracy concerns in the wake of the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. The Guardian

Why Human Rights Abuses May Not Top The Secretary of State’s Agenda in Egypt
Secretary of State John F. Kerry arrives in Cairo this weekend for talks with senior officials of a government that has restricted civil liberties in the name of national security as it fights violent extremists allied with the Islamic State. Kerry’s attendance at Sunday’s strategic dialogue, the first between the United States and Egypt since 2009, is the latest step toward mending relations that were frayed after a military coup in 2013 overthrew the elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. After Cairo, Kerry heads to Qatar to try to line up support for the Iran nuclear deal from Persian Gulf countries wary of Iran’s expansionist ambitions and to discuss ways to counter its influence in the region. The New York Times

Kerry Says to Seek More Support for Libya Peace Plan
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday he would seek greater backing for a U.N. peace plan for Libya which has been spurned by some key players in a country where two rival governments are vying for power. Some warring factions signed an initial United Nations-sponsored deal on July 12 to form a unity government and end fighting, but the parliament in Tripoli – set up to rival the official assembly which was pushed out of the capital – rejected the agreement. “We cannot allow one or two or three different spoiler groups who have not achieved all of their goals they had hoped to achieve though the conflict to destroy the entire process,” Kerry told a joint news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri in Cairo. Reuters

Seven Libyan Soldiers Killed in Clashes With ISIS
Seven Libyan soldiers were killed on Friday when Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants stormed a checkpoint manned by forces loyal to the official government, military officials said. Five soldiers were killed and 15 have been missing since the ISIS fighters attacked the checkpoint outside the eastern town of Ajdabiya, near the oil port of Bregaattack, one military official said. Two more soldiers were killed when the government sent reinforcements. Five were wounded. “Fighting is continuing some 100 kilometers outside Ajdabiya,” one official said. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement on social media, saying it had captured ammunition and military equipment. It said it had attacked 200 soldiers. Al Arabiya

Tunisia’s President Renews State of Emergency for Another Two Months
Tunisia’s presidency on Friday extended the country’s state of emergency for an additional two months as the country battles a violent Islamic insurgency that last month killed 38 tourists on a beach. The brief statement on the presidency’s Facebook page said the decision was taken following consultations with the speaker of parliament and the prime minister, and would take effect Monday. Just over a month ago, Tunisia was stunned by a bloody attack by a single gunman on a beach resort killing 38 tourists, mostly Britons. The attack followed another one on tourists back in March. The Independent

New Vaccine May End the Biggest Ebola Outbreak in History
Until now, the fight against Ebola has been an indirect one, akin to joining a battle unarmed and poorly protected. Those at the frontline, healthcare workers and volunteers, treated the symptoms of the infected and coordinated efforts to minimize contagion. But there was no cure, and no means of protecting against contagion. A new vaccine may change all that. Daily Maverick

UN Peacekeeper Killed in Clashes in Central African Republic
At least one soldier with the U.N. peackeeping mission in Central African Republic was killed on Sunday during clashes with armed assailants in a northern neighbourhood of the capital Bangui, a spokesman for the mission said. Residents said heavy machinegun fire was heard around 3 a.m. (0200 GMT) and it continued for several hours in the mostly Muslim district of PK5, where some inhabitants had set up barricades and were burning tyres. France 24

UN Warns of CAR Humanitarian Crisis
The Central African Republic is geared to become one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time if immediate action is not taken to increase aid to the country, according to the UN. Aurelien Agbenonci, from the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for CAR, told Al Jazeera on Sunday that if the shortfall for aid was not met, the UN “won’t be able to continue humanitarian activities till the end of the year”. Only 31% of the UN humanitarian appeal for the CAR has been secured, the UN said. “This is an extremely trying time for everyone but it would be a critical mistake for the international community to be lulled into thinking that stability has returned to the country,” Agbenonci, humanitarian coordinator for OCHA in CAR, said. News 24

Thousands in South Sudan Face Starvation Amid Nile Blockade
Thousands of civilians in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state face starvation after the government blocked aid groups from using the Nile River to deliver relief food, aid agencies said Friday. The Nile is a transportation lifeline in a country with few all-weather roads or airstrips, but it currently forms the frontline in Upper Nile between rebel forces on the west side and government forces on the east. Nile transport was “temporarily put on hold” for security purposes because the river was used by rebels to attack army bases there, said South Sudanese military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer. VOA

Violent Tribal Clashes Erupt in S. Sudan’s Western Equatoria
Violent clashes and heavy shooting took place on Saturday between armed tribal groups in Yambio, capital of South Sudan’s Western Equatoria State, according to state information minister. The clashes left scores of young people and government soldiers dead, said Charles Kisanga, Western Equatoria State Information Minister, in a statement, without giving specific number of the victims. “The clashes prompted panic among the population in the city”, he noted, adding that the clashes forced the majority of the citizens to flee the city to a nearby United Nations mission base. South Sudan plunged into violence in December 2013, when fighting erupted between troops loyal to President Kiir and defectors led by his former deputy Machar. Xinhua

South Sudan Army Chief Orders Shoot to Kill in Western Equatoria State
South Sudanese army (SPLA) chief of general staff, General Paul Malong Awan, has given orders, instructing government soldiers in Western Equatoria state to shoot anyone resisting his directives. The move came after two days of deadly clashes in Yambio, the state capital, which left dozens killed between local youth from Azande ethnic group and armed members of Dinka community backed by elements of the army deployed to the state.Sudan Tribune

Corruption in Kenya ‘worse Than Ever’
Corruption in Kenya is sliding out of control, veteran anti-corruption activist and whistle-blower John Githongo has warned in an interview following a scathing audit of government finances. The comments also came after US President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya when he spoke of “the cancer of corruption”. The publication of an official audit found just 1% of Kenya government spending and a quarter of the entire $16bn budget was properly accounted for. “This is the most rapacious administration that we have ever had,” said Githongo. News 24

The Secret to Ethiopia’s Counterterrorism Success
After the fanfare accorded to the United States President Barack Obama by Kenya, the last stop was Ethiopia. Of grand symbolic importance, Obama’s visit to East Africa was clearly historic, as he is the first sitting US president to do so. A source of infectious excitement, Obama is extraordinarily popular and despite the various inconveniences and disruptions to their daily activities, Ethiopians have been delighted to welcome him to their country. While visiting Ethiopia’s capitol city, Addis Ababa, Obama addressed both the Ethiopian government and the African Union. His presence in the region is a reflection of just how far East Africa, and particularly Ethiopia, has progressed in addressing their various misfortunes. al Jazeera

Palm Oil Company is Accused Of Exploiting Liberia’s Ebola Crisis
Standing in his garden, Alex Wloh wistfully cradled a few ears of corn in his hands. A mile or so away, field workers had been planting palm seedlings where he and his fellow villagers used to grow crops like rice, cassava, and vegetables. Mr. Wloh, 35, comes from a long line of farmers and has been working the land since childhood. But last year, during the height of the Ebola outbreak, his community signed an agreement turning over large swaths of land to Golden Veroleum Liberia, a palm oil company that operates in remote parts of southeastern Liberia. The agreement was signed in September and a few months later large tracts of land were cleared to make way for palm oil plantations. Mr. Wloh said he was saddened by the thought of his community giving up its farmland. But he and other villagers, faced with poor infrastructure and limited access to even domestic markets, said that growing food and vegetables had reaped few benefits for the community aside from feeding it. The New York Times

Sad About Cecil? These African Animals are Slaughtered by the Thousands
A hopeful myth persists in this region that “wildlife refugees”—fauna in flight from war-ravaged habitats—will return one day when the conflict is over. Would that it were so. But in South Sudan, no end of the conflict appears in sight, and amid vast human suffering, nature is being ravaged as well. The great icons of the wild—the elephants, the rhinos, the leopards and lions (so beloved of trophy hunting dentists and the heedless offspring of the outrageously rich) are gone or going fast. Conservationists say the “charismatic megafauna” are nearly wiped out here. No northern white rhino has been spotted in the region since 1981; only 2,500 elephant remain in all of South Sudan. Daily Beast



Photo: Adam Jones