Subscribe

RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Thursday, January 31, 2008

DAKAR (Reuters) - A French navy warship has intercepted a Liberian-flagged fishing vessel carrying 2.5 tonnes of cocaine in waters off the West African coast, a United Nations anti-narcotics official said on Thursday.

It was the biggest cocaine seizure so far this year off West Africa, which has increasingly become a trans-shipment point favoured by Latin American drug cartels because of weak local law enforcement and its long largely unsupervised coastline.

In this growing trafficking corridor, the drugs are flown or shipped across the Atlantic and then on to markets in Europe.

The Blue Atlantic and its nine Ghanaian crew members were detained by the French navy vessel Tonnerre on Wednesday, 520 km south west of the Liberian capital Monrovia, Amado de Andres, deputy representative for West Africa of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told Reuters.

"When the crew saw they were going to be intercepted, they started throwing containers of the drug overboard," he said.

Nevertheless, 2.5 tonnes of cocaine in more than 90 containers were seized.

De Andres said the French navy made the interception thanks to information supplied by the newly-created European Union anti-narcotics unit known as MAOC-N (Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre-Narcotics), which is based in Lisbon.

The U.N. and western law enforcement agencies have raised the alarm about the drug cartels' use of West Africa as a staging post, especially in the small state of Guinea-Bissau whose police are badly equipped and poorly paid.

"The traffickers are now trying to target new states and one of them is Liberia," de Andres said.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

MNJ Threaten's to escalate attacks on Uranium Mines

NIAMEY, Jan 31 (Reuters) - A leader of Niger's Tuareg rebels promised on Thursday an all-out offensive against the uranium industry including attacks on foreign-run mines and mineral convoys.

Over the last 12 months, the Niger Justice Movement (MNJ) has attacked army convoys and bases, killing around 50 soldiers. This has forced Niger's government to impose a state of alert in the north of the Sahelian country, a major producer of uranium which is used to fuel nuclear reactors.

"We are going to attack the uranium mines, including those belonging to Areva, halt the operation of the plants or the opening up of new sites, and target the road shipments to the sea," Tuareg leader Rhissa Ag Boula told French newspaper Le Nouvel Observateur.

Last year MNJ fighters attacked a northern mine site operated by French nuclear group Areva and also briefly abducted a Chinese uranium executive.

The rebels are demanding more autonomy and a greater share of wealth in their uranium-rich northern region.

A Niger government spokesman rejected the threat in comments to Radio France International. President Mamadou Tandja's administration refuses to recognise the light-skinned nomadic desert rebels, dismissing them as "armed bandits".

Ag Boula criticised the Niger government for "handing out uranium concessions like buns" to companies from France, Canada, Australia, India, South Africa and China.

China had obtained a major part of the new concessions and the Chinese "build mining cities, bringing their own workers with them".

China was selling landmines, vehicles and tanks to the Niger government, Ag Boula said in the interview.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

MNJ Threaten's to escalate attacks on Uranium Mines

NIAMEY, Jan 31 (Reuters) - A leader of Niger's Tuareg rebels promised on Thursday an all-out offensive against the uranium industry including attacks on foreign-run mines and mineral convoys.

Over the last 12 months, the Niger Justice Movement (MNJ) has attacked army convoys and bases, killing around 50 soldiers. This has forced Niger's government to impose a state of alert in the north of the Sahelian country, a major producer of uranium which is used to fuel nuclear reactors.

"We are going to attack the uranium mines, including those belonging to Areva, halt the operation of the plants or the opening up of new sites, and target the road shipments to the sea," Tuareg leader Rhissa Ag Boula told French newspaper Le Nouvel Observateur.

Last year MNJ fighters attacked a northern mine site operated by French nuclear group Areva and also briefly abducted a Chinese uranium executive.

The rebels are demanding more autonomy and a greater share of wealth in their uranium-rich northern region.

A Niger government spokesman rejected the threat in comments to Radio France International. President Mamadou Tandja's administration refuses to recognise the light-skinned nomadic desert rebels, dismissing them as "armed bandits".

Ag Boula criticised the Niger government for "handing out uranium concessions like buns" to companies from France, Canada, Australia, India, South Africa and China.

China had obtained a major part of the new concessions and the Chinese "build mining cities, bringing their own workers with them".

China was selling landmines, vehicles and tanks to the Niger government, Ag Boula said in the interview.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Rebels in Chad Appear to have taken Ati

N'DJAMENA, Jan 31 (Reuters) - A Chadian rebel column advanced along the main road west towards the capital N'Djamena on Thursday but split up when confronted by the army and there was no threat to the city, officials said.

Army helicopters bombarded the rebels who the government says crossed from Sudan earlier this week with backing from the neighbouring country's government, a military source said.
President Idriss Deby, a French-trained former fighter pilot with a penchant for taking personal command on the battlefield, headed out to bolster government forces facing the rebels but later returned to N'Djamena, a presidency official said.

"From the military point of view there is no threat to the capital ... the government is taking the necessary measures," said the official, who declined to be named.

A government crisis committee was due to meet on Thursday evening and a Reuters witness said troops took up defensive positions on main roads into N'Djamena from the north and east.
A security source in N'Djamena, declining to be named, said earlier a rebel column of 300 vehicles had passed through the town of Ati and halted 250 km (150 miles) east of N'Djamena where a Chadian army column had moved up to confront it.

"There is a Chadian army column in front of them and there are other Chadian forces between them and the capital," he said.

Opposition Web sites said the rebels had taken Ati.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

AQIM claims Their Attack

DUBAI (AFP) - Al-Qaeda's North African branch claimed responsibility on Wednesday for the suicide bombing of a police station in eastern Algeria that killed four people a day earlier.

"A lion's cub of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, valiant martyr Hamza Abu Abderrahman, drove a vehicle laden with at least 650 kilograms (1,430 pounds) of explosives against the ramparts of the apostates: the judicial police station in Thenia," said a statement on a website routinely used by Al-Qaeda.

The Rest @ Yahoo News

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gaddafi Threatens to Pull Libya Investment out of Africa

Wed 30 Jan 2008, 18:10 GMT

The following Reuters story about Gaddafi's comments at the African Union meeting this week demonstrate his agenda:
  • Unify Africa into one government
  • Islamize it's Government

He has been using Libyan assets to invest in Africa for decades, and is now threatening to withdraw his assets and move them to the Mediterranean.

-Yes - even Libya can be imperialist.

-Shimron

TRIPOLI, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in a move seen as pressuring Africa to form a common government, said he would divert $5 billion in investments in the continent to the Mediterranean region if Africa "sacrificed its future".

Libya's official news agency Jana said Gaddafi made the remarks late on Tuesday to an audience of "African citizens and African leaders" ahead of a summit of the 53-nation African Union in Addis Ababa this week.

"If Africa practiced racism or wanted to sacrifice its future, Libya would then be able to scrap its current investment in Africa and move it to the Mediterranean region," Gaddafi, who is expected to attend the summit, was quoted as saying.

Jana said the investments were worth about $5 billion.

Independent observers say the remark on racism may refer to Gaddafi's stated desire for a greater role for Arabic speakers in the senior ranks of the AU's Ethiopian-based secretariat.

Gaddafi's comment on Africa's future appears to refer to his longheld view that a federal African government could meet the challenges of globalisation, fight poverty and resolve conflicts on the continent without interference from the West.

Gaddafi considers that without a central government a rift could open between Africa's culturally Arab north and the sub-Saharan south, a development he could see as carrying racial overtones, watchers of Libyan diplomacy in Africa say.

Gaddafi lobbied hard for a United States of Africa during an African Union (AU) summit in Ghana last July but the meeting ended with only an agreement to study how it might be created.

All 53 AU member countries agree with the goal of African integration but some, led by South Africa, a leading power on the continent, say it must be a gradual process.

"If past experiences of evasiveness and equivocations were to be repeated in Addis Abeba, so strategic dangers hitting Africa would be possible," Gaddafi was quoted as saying.

"And it would be possible that the Sahara would be the dividing line of the continent into white and black Africa, with North Africa, headed by Libya, linking its future to Europe," he said.

Gaddafi said Libya's state investment portfolio in Africa included $1 billion provided by Libya's National Oil Corporation, $1 billion by the Libyan Investment Company in Africa and $500 million in telecommunications ventures.

"This money is invested by Libya in Africa not to be given to Africans for free, but for a return to Libyans," he added. [emphasis added by Shimron]

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Thenia - Suicide Bombing at Police Station East of Tangiers

THENIA, Algeria A car bomb attack on a police station killed two people and wounded 23 in a town east of Algiers on Tuesday, the second such bombing in the OPEC member in a month, the interior ministry said.

Some residents said the blast in Thenia appeared to be a suicide attack, the tactic used in a devastating twin bombing in the capital of the north African country on December 11 that killed at least 41 people including 17 U.N. staff.

El Watan newspaper said police on Monday shot dead a suspected senior member of the rebel group that planned the December 11 attacks and arrested four other members of the group near the village of Corso east of Algiers.

The group had been preparing another suicide bombing in Algiers, the independent French-language daily said. Corso, like Thenia, is in the Boumerdes region on the edge of Kabylie.

The daily said police had seized a truck and explosives. The truck had been bought in Tidjelabine village, where the vehicles used on December 11 were also purchased.


The bombing on Tuesday in Thenia 34 miles east of the capital ripped much of the front wall off a three-storey police building and badly damaged nearby shops and a restaurant.

"The explosion happened at 6.25 a.m. (0525 GMT) and thank God it didn't happen at 08.00 a.m. or we would have been killed without a doubt," a man who gave his name as Slimane told Reuters. His butchers shop was among the damaged buildings.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Opposition leader Raila Odinga said that the only three acceptable options would be

  • Kibaki's resignation
  • a vote re-run
  • power-sharing leading to constitutional reform then a new election.

The Rest @ All Africa & the Nation

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

NIAMEY, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Suspected Tuareg rebels in Niger abducted a local prefect and a senior security official in a raid on the town of Tanout, government military officers said on Tuesday.

The government sources said the attack, in the town 950 km (590 miles) northeast of the capital Niamey, late on Monday caused deaths and injuries in both the government and rebel ranks, but they gave no more details.

The Tuareg-led rebel Niger Justice Movement (MNJ), which launched an armed revolt in the uranium-rich north a year ago, said its fighters seized the town, killing seven soldiers and police and taking 11 prisoners, including the prefect.

No independent confirmation was immediately available.

The MNJ said on its Web site http://m-n-j.blogspot.com/ the attack was a retaliation against the Tanout prefect whom it accused of ordering local officials to report residents suspected of supporting the rebels.

Tanout lies on the southern edge of Niger's northern Agadez region, a vast area of desert and rugged mountains which contains rich uranium reserves and mines which are the mainstay of the landlocked country's economy.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa.com
The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)
(SEHK: 857),(SSE: 601857),(NYSE: PTR) 中国石油天然气集团公司
is a state-owned fuel-producing corporation in the People's Republic of China.

  • It is China's largest integrated oil and gas company.
  • As of 2006, it was the second largest company in the world in terms of number of employees.
  • CNPC holds proved reserves of 3.7 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
  • CNPC spun off most of its domestic assets into a separate company, PetroChina, during a restructuring.
  • CNPC has 30 international exploration and production projects with operations in Azerbaijan, Canada, Indonesia, Myanmar, Oman, Peru, Sudan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, and Venezuela.

The Rest @ Wikipedia

This looks like a large multinational corporation, but it is important to understand that it an acting policy arm of the Chinese government...

CNPC, or 中国石油天然气集团公司 = Chinese Government

Why is that important to Africa ?

  • Companies make agreements all the time time to keep each other's information private (see confidentiality agreement , called a non-discosure agreement in the US). In example, should an oil exploration company have some promising findings, it may want to share with oil investors, they may want to sign a confidentiality agreement before they come to an agreement about wheterht to go into business together.
  • Since CNPC = China and China = CNPC, everypart of Chinese national intelligence, military intelligence must get the information.
  • When CNPC makes a strategic decision, is a state policy move, or a business deicsion?
  • State objectives and priorities will trump business ones in every case.
  • How can the parternship be equal? CNPC becomes the master, the other party, the servant.

......At the very least it is not a straightforward business decision, so as they say "buyer beware"

Gazprom, a Russian state-controlled oil company operates in much the same way.

-Shimron

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sudanese Terror Group Claims Ambush of USAID Diplomat Granvillle

It appears a claim has been made about the Granvill death on January first.
(Post about Granville Ambush)

-Shimron

The FBI and Diplomatic Security Service probe into the slaying of U.S. diplomat John Michael Granville of Buffalo, New York took a major new turn today when terrorists from a previously unknown jihad group claimed responsibility for fatally shooting the U.S. Agency for International Development officer and his Sudanese driver in Khartoum.

The SITE Intelligence Group reports picking up a claim of responsibility on an Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadi Web site by “Ansar Al-Tawhid,” an alleged Sudanese terror group.

The Rest @ NY Daily News

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (MDJT) to Release Godbold?

The MDJT and the Christian Missionary organization TEAM have both issued press releases suggesting a relatively the ammicable release of Cash Steve Godbold.

-Shimron

(Wkipedia) Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (French: Mouvement pour la democratie et la justice au Tchad, abbreviated as MDJT) is a Chadian rebel group that tried to oust the government of the current Chadian president Idriss Déby from October 1998-2003.
The movement was founded by Youssouf Togoïmi, Déby's former Defense Minister, and operated primarily in Bourkou-Ennedi-Tibesti and the Tibesti Mountains.

Though MDJT fought mostly against the Chadian Military, they were accused of assassinating the President of an opposition party in 1999, but no evidence supports this claim.

MDJT began negotiating with the Chadian government in January 2002 and signed a treaty giving amnesty to all MDJT rebels who stopped fighting. A MDJT remnant continued to fight to on a smaller scale until another agreement was signed in December 2003. This accord ensured high-ranking government positions for MDJT members.

Togoïmi died in September 2002 in a Libyan hospital from injuries he had received a few days earlier when his truck hit a landmine. Togoïmi is buried in Libya.



The Rest @ Wikipeida

More , more, and even more



U.S. missionary held in Chad to be freed soon: group
Yahoo! Canada - 1/14/2008
N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - Rebels in northern Chad are expected to release shortly a U.S. missionary they seized in October on the suspicion he was a Chadian government spy, a member of the organization he worked for said on Sunday. Cash Steven Godbold, a member of the Christian organization The Evangeli
US missionary held in Chad to be freed soon -group
AlertNet - 1/13/2008
N'DJAMENA, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Rebels in northern Chad are expected to release shortly a U.S. missionary they seized in October on the suspicion he was a Chadian government spy, a member of the organisation he worked for said on Sunday. Cash Steven Godbold, a member of the Christian organisation The
>>More

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Godbold to be Released Soon

N'DJAMENA, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Rebels in northern Chad are expected to release shortly a U.S. missionary they seized in October on the suspicion he was a Chadian government spy, a member of the organisation he worked for said on Sunday.

Cash Steven Godbold, a member of the Christian organisation The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM), was kidnapped on Oct. 11 in the northern Tibesti mountains near the Libyan border by the rebel Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (MDJT).

At the time of his seizure, Godbold was working on a humanitarian assistance project drilling water wells in the Zoumri region, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The MDJT, which was formed in 1998, issued statements last week saying its inquiries showed Godbold was not working for the Chadian government as it had originally suspected.

"We expect him to be released shortly ... hopefully in a week," the Reverend Carl Hodges of the TEAM organisation in Chad told Reuters by telephone.

At the request of the MDJT, another humanitarian organisation working in Chad was helping to arrange the release of the kidnapped missionary, Hodges said, adding that this organisation had asked that its name not be released.

"I myself talked to him (Godbold) on December 28. I was able to confirm that he was fine -- the only thing he wanted was his liberty," Hodges said.

He said the MDJT, which in 1998 launched an armed insurgency in Chad's north under the leadership of President Idriss Deby's former defence chief, Youssouf Togoimi, had made no demands.


(Reporting by Pascal Fletcher; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

The Rest @ Reuters Alertnet

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Kiswahili Speaking Soldiers Arriving in Kenya Apear to be Ugandan

13 January 2008
Posted to the web 12 January 2008

Armed Ugandan soldiers are allegedly crossing into Kenya.
Busia residents told The Sunday Standard that some Ugandan troops have been sighted in town and in Port Victoria along River Suo.

"They are scattered all over along the borders with some patrolling along Lake Victoria," said a secondary school teacher in Budalang'i District.

According to Nambale MP-elect, Mr Chris Okemo, some of the soldiers have reportedly crossed "no-man's-land" borderline to Busia town on the Kenyan side.

"We have received reports that a number of strangers, whose mission is unknown, have been spotted in groups. We are still investigating the claims," he said.

Bondo MP-elect Dr Oburu Oginga also claimed that people in Ugandan military gear docked at Mageta Island last evening in batches.

"The first batch of 12 soldiers who spoke strange Kiswahili arrived at Mageta Island past 5pm on Friday and asked for directions to Usenge and Uhanya beach," Oburu said.

Oburu said he informed police in Bondo after more soldiers allegedly landed at Mageta two hours later.

"We are concerned with these strange military personnel in the area. The residents are worried," Oburu said.

However, Nyanza PPO Ms Grace Kaindi denied the claims.
"That is nonsense. There is no way foreign troops can be sneaked into the country since we are not at war with anybody," she said.

"We have laws that can help us deal with any security threat in the province. Residents should ignore rumours about Uganda soldiers taking positions on Kenya borders along Lake Victoria," she said police investigation showed no foreign troops.

Similar strange military arrivals were reported in Bungoma where they allegedly boarded six buses.

Suspicion has been high in Uganda over President Yoweri Museveni's possible role in the Kenyan presidential poll fiasco.

Museveni was the only Head of State in the region to congratulate Kibaki for being re-elected.

Ugandan authorities have denied that its soldiers had crossed into Kenya.
Museveni's Media advisor, Mr John Nagenda, on Sunday denied the claims.
Uganda's Army spokesman, Captain Paddy Ankunda, also refuted the claims.

The Rest @ AllAfrica

Chad Peacekeepers and Aid Plan May Confuse Local Chadians

Chad: Dual Peacekeeping Mission Seeks to Dispel Confusion
11 January 2008
Posted to the web 12 January 2008
Ndjamena

With Chadian rebel groups constantly changing, inter-communal fighting frequently breaking out, and tension with neighbouring Sudan increasing, some humanitarian officials in Chad fear the planned presence of simultaneous UN and European Union (EU) police and military forces will only add to the confusion.

"We have our questions about the deployment," said Guinlhelm Molinie, head of Médecins Sans Frontières Luxembourg, which works in northeastern Chad. "We don't know if it's to protect humanitarians, refugees, the areas of return, the east of Chad. The official line varies."

"We are waiting to see how this force will act on the ground and whether it will do any good. We have some doubts about it, that's for sure."

The concerns about confusion are understandable, according to Lt-Col Jan Vall, deputy chief of the military liaison officers of the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT). Vall is charged with coordinating between the UN mission and the other forces on the ground.
"It will be very complicated for the [local] people to manage and for humanitarians - for everyone - to know the difference," he agreed.

  • "I will be there in uniform, without arms, with a UN logo.
  • The EU will be there with arms, with the EU logo.
  • The French [troops stationed in Chad for more than two decades and who support Chadian President Idriss Déby] will be there, with the same uniforms as the French working for the EU, but with a French logo, and with a different interest, etc., etc,"

Vall told IRIN

The Rest @ AllAfrica

Guinnea Bissau Captures and Extradites 5 al Qaeda Suspects to Mauritania

BISSAU, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Guinea-Bissau extradited five suspected members of al Qaeda to Mauritania on Saturday, a day after they were arrested in connection with the killing of four French tourists in Mauritania last month.

"Guinea-Bissau will pay for what it has done," one of the five Mauritanians said as he was bundled into a plane by the security forces in Bissau. "Watch out! If I'd had a gun I would have killed you all," he shouted to the security officers, speaking in the local Creole language.

On Dec. 24, three attackers, who Mauritanian officials said were suspected Islamic militants linked to al Qaeda, gunned down four French tourists and wounded a fifth as they enjoyed a Christmas Eve picnic on a road in southern Mauritania.

Police in Guinea-Bissau arrested the five Mauritanians on Friday and said later two of them had admitted belonging to al Qaeda. At least three of the men were wanted in direct connection with the killings, the authorities in Bissau said.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Friday, January 11, 2008

MNJ Denounces the Mines in the streets of Naimey

Statements off the MNJ website in the last couple of days are:

  • The Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) strongly denounced what they call the "assassination" by "the regime" of the Director of Radio RM Niamey, Abdou Mahamane, as a result of a mine in the streets of Naimey

They call it a "heinous crime" and accuse the Government of:

  • Creating a threatening place for Journalists, which MNJ claims to condemn
  • Trying to buy Helicopters from China and Russia to fight them in the desert
  • Making MNJ's war against the fighters of the regime" an international war by using mines and blaming MNJ.

There is more, but it is mostly rhetoric, name calling, and a promise to keep fighting the regime.

This is an old, local war. Will they succumb to the needed resources al Qaeda promises if they join the jihad? We will see.

-Shimron

Thursday, January 10, 2008

AQIM Kills 5 Soliders in Another Attack in Troubled Tizin Ouzou

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Suspected Islamist rebels killed five soldiers in an ambush on a military convoy east of Algiers on Wednesday, a security source said.

The attack occurred near the town of Tizi Ouzou, 120 km (75 miles) east of the capital, the source said, without giving further details.

The town is at the centre of the forested mountain region of Kabylie, where authorities say many Islamist rebels are based.

The attack was the worst such incident in the north African country since suspected al Qaeda militants rammed a bomb-laden car into a police station on January 2, killing four policemen and injuring 20 other people in Naciria, also east of Algiers.

A total of at least 37 people, including 17 United Nations staff, were killed in a double suicide bombing in the capital Algiers on December 11, the government said. Hospital sources said the death toll was more than 60.

Maghreb Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for that attack, which hit U.N. offices and a court building, saying it had targeted "the slaves of America and France".


The Rest @ Reuters Africa

African Union AU Fails Stop the Violence in Kenya

By Daniel Wallis and Wangui Kanina

NAIROBI (Reuters) - An African Union mission to resolve a political crisis in Kenya that has killed 500 people ended in failure on Thursday as the president and opposition leader accused each other of wrecking talks.

AU Chairman John Kufuor said both sides had agreed to work with an African panel headed by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. But President Mwai Kibaki and opposition chief Raila Odinga neither met nor agreed how to end the crisis.

Controversy over Kibaki's re-election in a December 27 vote triggered political and ethnic bloodletting that has displaced 250,000 people, dented the stable reputation of east Africa's biggest economy and disrupted supplies to nearby countries.
Odinga says Kibaki rigged the election.

Ghanaian President Kufuor, Washington's top Africa diplomat Jendayi Frazer and EU and British envoys met Odinga on Thursday to pile pressure on him and on Kibaki to reach a deal.
Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) distributed the text of a draft agreement it said had been drawn up with representatives of both Kibaki and the ODM under the facilitation of the World Bank's country director, Colin Bruce.

The text agreed to re-examine the elections and hold fresh polls if needed, but the ODM said Kibaki refused to sign.

"It is true to his character and can only be treated with the contempt it deserves," said ODM Secretary General Anyang' Nyong'o. "This is a slap in the face ... to the (AU) mission and the international community," he said.

Kibaki's office denied knowledge of the agreement and in a statement it accused the ODM of blocking negotiations.

"The government had offered dialogue which was to be facilitated by President John Kufuor but Orange Democratic Movement leaders have not been responsive," it said.

Kufuor put a brave face on his two-day mission before leaving the country on Thursday.
"The parties agreed to work together with a panel of eminent African personalities headed by Mr Kofi Annan ... towards resolving their differences and all other outstanding issues including constitutional and electoral reforms," he said.

"Both sides agreed there should be an end to the violence and they also agreed there should be dialogue," he told reporters as he left for the airport.



The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) Brings the War to the Captial

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger's government on Wednesday accused Tuareg-led rebels of laying landmines in the capital Niamey which killed a local radio director, the first such attack in the city since the uprising began almost a year ago.

The security forces defused a second device early on Wednesday, hours after private radio director Abdou Mahaman Jeannot was killed when his Toyota car drove over a mine in a residential suburb on the western edge of the city.

The government blamed Tuareg rebels who launched an uprising last February to demand greater autonomy for their homelands in the barren, uranium-rich north. The insurgents have mainly targeted army patrols and remote garrisons in the Sahara.
"This attack can only be the work of armed bandits in the north who are trying to establish a campaign of urban terrorism because they are incapable of fighting a conventional war in the region where they launched it," Communication Minister Mohamed Ben Omar said in a communique broadcast on state radio.

The rebel Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), which has killed at least 49 soldiers since launching its revolt last year, vehemently denied responsibility for laying the mines, instead accusing the authorities of trying to tarnish its image.

"This regime which has lost any sense of direction is laying mines everywhere it needs to in order to accuse the fighters for justice, who condemn the use of mines particularly against citizens," the MNJ said on its Web site.

Ben Omar called on the population to set up "vigilance brigades" to fight against "these new types of assassins".

The mines were placed next to a cemetery on the western edge of Niamey. The second device was defused some 200 metres (656 ft) from the charred wreckage of the Toyota car in which Jeannot died shortly before midnight (2300 GMT) on Tuesday.

A woman who was also travelling in the car was seriously injured and taken to hospital but discharged herself after receiving treatment for shrapnel wounds, witnesses said.

Niger's government said in November the Tuareg-led rebels were planning to widen their campaign from attacks in the desert to include "acts of urban terrorism".

The government accused the group of widening its offensive to towns and cities in December, when two civilians were killed by landmines -- one in the central town of Tahoua, another in Maradi, some 550 km (340 miles) east of Niamey.

The MNJ denied responsibility for those attacks, blaming them on "Niger army militias" they said were aiming to discredit the insurgency and justify a security crackdown.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Civilian deaths during the rebellion have fuelled anger agalinst the Tuaregs and other nomadic northerners among non-Tuareg sectors of Niger's racially mixed population

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) Claims Ambush Near d'Iferouane, Niger

The MNJ. on their websit,e claims to have intercepted a detachment of 14 military reconnisance vehicles in 7 km to the west of d'Iferouane, Niger.

They claim to have destroyed 4 vehicles destroyed with their occupants.

-Shimron

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Radio Banadir Reporter Dabaan Arrested trying to leave Somalia

4 January 2008

Somali security forces jailed a radio reporter at Adan Adde International Airport in the capital Mogadishu on Friday, sources said.

Mohamed Shidane Dabaan, a reporter for the independent FM Radio Banadir, was arrested by members of the country's intelligence unit as he tried to travel abroad.

The senior arresting officer whose name was shortened to Askar declined to give reason for reporter Dabaan's arrest.

Dabaan also worked part-time for the information department of the Banadir Regional Government, headed by Mogadishu Mayor Mohamed "Dheere" Omar.
Banadir government officials have not spoken about Mr. Dabaan's arrest but this is the latest example of press freedom violations in Somalia.

The country is considered one of the most dangerous nations in the world for the independent press. In 2007, eight media persons were killed in different parts of the country, according to press watchdog groups.

In Somalia's northern Puntland region, independent journalist Awale Jama Salad has been held in jail without charge since December 23.

The Rest @ AllAfrica.com

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Aqim Claims Responsibility for

DUBAI, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's North Africa wing claimed responsibility for the deadly suicide bombing in Algeria on Wednesday in a recording aired by Al Arabiya television.
The speaker who identified himself as Salah Abou Mohammad, a spokesman of the group, said a suicide bomber rammed a truck laden with at least 500 kg (1100 lbs) of explosives into a police facility.

The Interior Ministry said three people were killed and seven injured in the first major attack in Algeria since a twin bombing in the capital Algiers killed at least 37 people on Dec. 11, including 17 United Nations staff. (Reporting by Inal Ersan; Editing by Michael Winfrey)

The Rest @ REsuters Africa

Cocaine Captured on Algerian-Mali Border aftger Shootout

Thu 3 Jan 2008, 18:27 GMT


BAMAKO, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Malian customs officers seized three quarters of a tonne of cocaine worth an estimated $45 million after a desert shootout with heavily armed smugglers near the Algerian border, officials said on Thursday.

West Africa has become a major trafficking route for Colombian cocaine headed for the lucrative streets of Europe, and smuggling gangs ply their trade across thinly-policed borders at the heart of Africa's biggest desert.

The drugs were discovered on board two four-wheel-drive vehicles near the town of
Tin-Zaouatene on the Mali-Algeria border, said a senior Territorial Administration Ministry official.

"The seizure took place ... following a car chase and gun fight, or a battle, you could say, as they had military weapons," he said.

"After two hours of fighting, the smugglers, who were driving three Algerian-registered off-roaders, abandoned two of them, loaded their wounded into the third vehicle and fled over the border," he said.

Malian authorities estimated the cocaine, one of the country's biggest ever seizures, to be worth 20 billion CFA francs ($45 million) he said.

Trafficking of drugs, weapons and people via ancient trade routes has increased insecurity in the remote central Sahara, as well as in some of West Africa's coastal states which act as transit points for the illicit cargoes.

U.N. officials say the tiny, deeply impoverished state of Guinea-Bissau risks becoming a "narco-state" unless the international community helps its poorly equipped police force take on wealthy and heavily-armed Latin American drugs gangs.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Alistair Thomson, Editing by Matthew Jones)

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

American Diplomat John Granville's Death in Sudan

Sudan claims the January 1st 2008 shooting and death of American Diplomat John Granville and his Sudanese driver was not a terrist attack, and condems the tragedy. The Sudanese Interior Ministry said Granville was being driven home after a newyears eve party when another vehicle cut off his car and opened fire before fleeing the scene. He was shot five times, and died in surgery later that day. His driver died instantly.

Granville, 33, was a USAID democracy fellow as part of his work in Sudan. According to the USAID website Reuters Video
  • Granville's project involved distributing radios to people in the southern part of Sudan to maximize the effect of the agency's broadcasting initiatives.
His family reports that Granville was a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon, where he helped build the first school in a rural village. He was a graduate of Fordham University and earned a masters degree in International Development and Social Change from Clark University in Worcester, Mass., in 2003.

A US official said it was too early to determine a motive for the shooting, but they had received indications of terrorist threats aimed at American and Western interests in Sudan, but the warning indicated that the threat was greater outside Khartoum.
  • The BBC reports the UN has taken control of the peacekeeping mission for Darfur in Sudan after months of negotiations but it remains under strength.

In Sudan in 1973, U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel Jr. and senior U.S. official George Curtis Moore were slain by Palestinian militants, and a USAID employee died in a car accident in Khartoum in 1981.

-Shimron

More from The LA Times, and Boston.com

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Nigerian Delta Guerrilas Attack Port Harcourt

Tue 1 Jan 2008, 14:21 GMT

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria, Jan 1 (Reuters) - Suspected militants attacked two police stations, a luxury hotel and a night club in Nigeria's oil city Port Harcourt on Tuesday leaving 18 people dead, police said.

The New Year's Day assault came after troops bombed suspected rebel hideouts near the city last weekend and after the collapse of peace talks between militants and the government of Africa's top oil producer.

"The gunmen came into town from different directions and attacked several places," said Ireju Barasua, a police spokeswoman in Port Harcourt.

Barasua said four police officers were killed at two police stations in the riverside metropolis in the south of Nigeria.

Seven civilians also died in the cross-fire outside the Borokiri police station, and a security guard was killed at the Presidential Hotel when gunmen opened fire on the lobby, Police Commissioner Felix Ogbaudu was quoted as saying by the state news agency.

Several other civilians were wounded by stray bullets near the hotel as they returned from midnight mass, witnesses said. The lobby wall had bullet marks and dozens of empty AK-47 shells were lying on the road outside.

Gunmen also struck the Skippers night club, and police said they killed six of the attackers.
A prominent militia leader in Port Harcourt, Ateke Tom, had been expected to stage a counter-attack in the city after troops bombed his suspected hideouts with helicopter gunships in the creeks around the city last weekend.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

289 Dead in Kenya post Election Violence -from Pakistan

This is a Pakistani Daily NEws papae repoirt about Kenyan Post election violence

read cautiously between the lines: Note the author says "289", then "nearly 290", then "nealry 300" all in the same story. There is an agenda here.

-Shimron

289 dead as EU calls Kenya poll flawed
  • NAIROBI: EU monitors cast doubts Tuesday on the results of Kenya’s disputed presidential vote, stepping up the pressure on re-elected President Mwai Kibaki as his country reels from violence that has claimed nearly 290 lives.
  • A second consecutive night of tribal conflict and clashes between police and protestors left more than 100 dead, with no end in sight to the post-election unrest that has plunged one of Africa’s more stable democracies into an unprecedented crisis.
  • World leaders called on Kenya’s rival leaders to open a dialogue, but Raila Odinga, the opposition candidate narrowly defeated in the December 27 poll by Kibaki, said he would only talk when the president owned up to vote-rigging allegations.

“The conditions under which we are prepared to negotiate is that Kibaki must first accept that he did not win the elections,” Odinga said in an interview with the BBC.

  • His charges of fraud were lent extra weight by the EU election monitoring team which issued a report Tuesday saying the vote had “fallen short” of international standards and called for an independent audit into the results.
  • The polls were “marred by a lack of transparency in the processing and tallying of presidential results, which raises concerns about the accuracy of the final results,” the report said.
  • “We believe it is vital that an impartial investigation into the accuracy of the presidential results is conducted,” chief EU observer Alexander Graf Lambsdorff told reporters
  • .British PM: Britain joined international calls for calm, with Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaking by telephone to both Kabika and Odinga. “What I want to see is them coming together, I want to see talks and I want to see reconciliation and unity,” Brown said.
  • While noting the widespread allegations of vote-rigging, Brown argued that “the first priority” was ending the violence.

Events

  • Clashes were reported by police and witnesses overnight in most Nairobi slums as well as in several of Odinga’s strongholds in western Kenya.
  • The city of Kisumu, northwest of Nairobi, appeared to be the worst affected, with a mortuary attendant telling AFP that 48 bodies were brought in overnight.
  • The violence is the worst Kenya has witnessed since a failed 1982 coup.
  • Slum areas were overrun by rioters burning down shops belonging to members of Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe and looting anything from refrigerators to basic goods, which have started running out since the crisis brought East Africa’s largest economy to a standstill.

According to a tally compiled by AFP, 289 people have died in politically related violence since the December 27 elections.

The incident is likely to raise concerns that the wave of post-election violence that has now claimed nearly 300 lives in Kenya could develop into a full-blown ethnic conflict.

A police commander said police had been given shoot-to-kill orders for Eldoret, the town where the Kenya Assemblies of God church was located.

The Rest @ Daily Times-Pakistan

Mouritania Frontier Crime May be al Qaeda

This 31 December 2007 article suggests that al Qaeda or Trans-national criminal trafficers may be building infrastructure or ramping up for Action in West Africa

-Shimron

Mauritania forces unsure of al Qaeda attack claim
Mon 31 Dec 2007, 15:42 GMT
[-] Text [+]

By Ibrahima Sylla

NOUAKCHOTT, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Mauritanian forces hunting the killers of French tourists and government soldiers are not convinced by a claim that al Qaeda launched one of the attacks, security sources said on Monday.

Last week's separate attacks have shaken the normally peaceful West African country as it prepares to host a section of the Dakar Rally -- a race that gives a lucrative boost to Mauritania's nascent tourism industry.

A promise of 3,000 security personnel to ensure safe passage was enough for the rally's security chief, who has given the green light to its Mauritanian stages starting Jan 11.
But with talk of French tourists cancelling trips, Mauritanians are aware there is still time for a change of plan, should a serious al Qaeda threat be established.

Stages in neighbouring Mali were cancelled last year after French security services cited a threat from Algerian rebels.

  • Last Monday three attackers, who authorities suspect are linked to al Qaeda, gunned down four French tourists and injured a fifth as they enjoyed a Christmas Eve picnic by the side of a road in the south of the country, near the border with Senegal.
  • Gunmen killed three army soldiers three days later in the remote and sparsely populated north of the country, bordering Algeria and Morocco's breakaway territory of Western Sahara.
  • In an audio recording aired by Al Arabiya television, a spokesman said al Qaeda's North African branch had killed four soldiers late on Wednesday, but made no mention of the French.
  • Details in the statement differed from those given by the Mauritanian authorities, and the Gulf TV station said it could not verify the statement was indeed from al Qaeda.
  • Security sources in Mauritania's capital Nouakchott said the al Qaeda link was just one of the lines of inquiry

Suspicion was also falling on armed smugglers who traffic drugs, weapons and people across poorly policed borders deep in the Sahara.

  • The soldiers were shot dead by the occupants of two vehicles they were pursuing, who then made off with a heavy gun captured from the soldiers' vehicle.
  • The rough terrain would require heavy-duty vehicles similar to those designed for military use, said one security source.
  • "The heavy weapon they took, which they dismantled, could only be used by a specialist or somebody who had been trained for it," said another security source in Nouakchott.
  • Security forces have detained at least seven people in relation to the killing of the French, but the three killers are still at large, possibly in neighbouring Senegal or Mali.

Mauritanian investigators say they are questioning the operator of a pirogue, or small wooden boat, who they believe ferried the attackers across the Senegal river into Senegal.
"The search goes on. So far there is no news. We have not located them -- otherwise we would have arrested them already," said Daouda Diop, spokesman for Senegal's Gendarmerie service.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Two US Soliders Found Dead in Hotel room in Ghana

Jan 1 (Reuters) - Two U.S. Navy sailors were found dead on Tuesday in their hotel room while on shore leave in the West African country of Ghana, the U.S. Navy said.

The cause of death was unknown and was being investigated by Ghanaian authorities in cooperation with U.S. Navy officials, the Navy said in a statement.

"Currently there is no suggestion of foul play," Lieutenant Patrick Foughty, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy Sixth Fleet, told Reuters by telephone from Naples, Italy.

The sailors, who were not identified, were stationed aboard the Fort McHenry, a 600-foot (185-
metre) dock landing ship based in Little Creek, Virginia.

The vessel was docked in the Ghanaian port of Tema, some 18 miles (28 km) east of the capital Accra, as part of a U.S. naval partnership programme in West Africa.

During a six-month mission, the Fort McHenry will train West African navies to fight drug smuggling and maritime security threats in a region which supplies nearly a fifth of U.S. oil imports.

Foughty said the sailor's deaths would not prevent the training mission from going ahead.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

Thirty Killed in Kenya Assembly of God Church by Post Election Mob

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A mob torched a Kenyan church on Tuesday, killing about 30 villagers cowering inside, as the death toll from ethnic riots triggered by President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election approached 250.

Fire engulfed a church near Eldoret town where hundreds of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe had taken refuge in fear of their lives. Witnesses said charred bodies, including women and children, were strewn about the smouldering ruins.

"This is the first time in history that any group has attacked a church. We never expected the savagery to go so far," police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said.

Kibaki was sworn in on Sunday after official election results showed he narrowly beat opposition leader Raila Odinga. Both sides have accused the other of massive vote-rigging during the Dec. 27 election.

The dispute ignited long-simmering tribal rivalries in one of Africa's most stable democracies and strongest economies.

World powers called for calm and urged the political opponents to "exercise restraint" and talk to each other.

Police and a senior security official said the blaze at the Kenya Assemblies of God Pentecostal church in western Kenya was deliberately started by a gang of youths.
  • Television pictures shot from a helicopter showed plumes of white smoke pouring from burning homesteads in the area.
  • Young men, some toting bows and arrows, manned roadblocks.
  • Residents and a security source said the victims had sought safety at the small church, about 8 km (5 miles) from Eldoret.
  • "Some youths came to the church," said a local reporter from the scene.
  • "They fought with the boys who were guarding it, but they were overpowered and the youths set fire to the church."
  • Local media said 20 people suffered life-threatening burns.

The attack revived traumatic memories in east Africa of the slaughter in churches of tens of thousands of victims of Rwanda's 1994 genocide, and the mass suicide of hundreds of Ugandan cult members in a church fire in 2000.

Police said more than 70,000 people had been displaced nationwide and about 170 killed. Reuters reporters around Kenya estimated the death toll at around 250.

Leading local newspaper, the Daily Nation, feared the country was on "the verge of a complete meltdown".

Fuel prices rose sharply in Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi, all of which get petrol, diesel and other products from Kenyan ports.

THOUSANDS FLEE

Police were out in force in the capital on New Year's Day and Nairobi's streets were initially quieter, before violence erupted in the slums again as dusk fell.

Ghana's President John Kufor, the chairman of the African Union (AU), is due in Kenya on Wednesday to meet Kibaki and "discuss the current crisis", an AU spokesman said.

Washington had first congratulated Kibaki, then switched to expressing "concerns about irregularities". Former colonial power Britain, the European Union and others pointedly avoided congratulating Kibaki. Instead, they expressed concern, urged reconciliation and a probe into suspected voting irregularities.


"The 2007 general elections have fallen short of key international and regional standards for democratic elections," the EU observer mission said in its formal assessment.

Western diplomats shuttled between both sides, trying to start mediation. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called Kibaki and his opposition rival Raila Odinga.

"The government thinks they can wait this out, but we're not convinced," one diplomat in Nairobi told Reuters.

The Eldoret area where the church massacre took place is multi-ethnic but traditionally dominated by the Kalenjin tribe.

It suffered ethnic violence in 1992 and 1997 when hundreds of mainly Kikuyus were killed and thousands more displaced.

A senior security official in Rift Valley said that as many as 15,000 people were now sheltering from the violence in churches and police stations in Eldoret.

He blamed the opposition for incitement.
"We have lived together for years, we've intermarried, we have children, but now they've asked them to turn against them," the security official said. "We don't do this in Kenya. It is what happens in Yugoslavia and Sudan."

An Irish Catholic priest in Eldoret, Father Paul Brennan, told Reuters vigilante gangs were roaming the streets.

"Houses are being burned. It is too dangerous to go outside and count the dead," he said. "The churches are full. There are four to five thousand in the main cathedral."

Most deaths have come from police firing at protesters, witnesses say, prompting accusations from rights groups and the opposition that Kibaki had made Kenya a "police state".

The Rest @ Reuters Africa