Tag Archive: United Land of Nigeria


August 31, 2015

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Three Canadians, a Pakistani and a Nigerian were among those killed in a fire that engulfed parts of a residential compound in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich east, a Saudi official said.

The blaze began early Sunday in a sprawling, multistory housing complex in the city of Khobar that accommodates workers for state oil giant Saudi Aramco. Col. Ali bin Saad al-Qahtani, a civil defense spokesman for the kingdom’s Eastern Province, provided the update in comments carried by the official Saudi Press Agency early Monday.

He said a total of 10 people died and 259 were injured in the blaze. The civil defense directorate previously said 11 people were killed. Al-Qahtani did not provide the nationalities of the other five people killed.

Diana Khaddaj, a spokeswoman for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department, said consular officers in Riyadh are in touch with Saudi authorities “to gather additional information and are providing consular assistance to those affected and their family during this difficult time.”

Of those injured, 179 have left the hospital after receiving treatment. A preliminary investigation suggests a short circuit in an electrical transformer in the building’s basement sparked the blaze, which quickly spread through 130 cars parked in the basement, al-Qahtani said.

The complex, known as Radium, is a gated community of eight six-story buildings with a total of 486 residential units as well as swimming pools and other leisure facilities, according to Aramco’s website.

Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed reporting.

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28 April 2015 Tuesday

The ISIL armed group may have gained a firm foothold beyond the Middle East and North Africa for the first time, after Nigeria’s Boko Haram adopted the name “ISIL’s West Africa Province” (ISWAP).

The Nigerian armed group’s leader Abubakar Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIL last month, but the diffuse organization had appeared to continue to operate under its official name.

But now propaganda materials shared by ISIL-affiliated social media accounts have dropped both those names for ISWAP, and appear to share the slick production values and brazen style more usually associated with members in Syria and Iraq.

The images show Boko Haram members toting guns and with their faces visible for the first time – with the exception of figurehead Shekau, group members have previously been reluctant to reveal their identities.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/158459/boko-haram-changes-its-name-to-isil-in-west-africa.

July 30, 2015

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria’s Defense Ministry has appointed a new general to head the multinational army it is hoped can defeat the Boko Haram Islamic uprising that has killed 20,000 people and driven nearly 2 million from their homes.

Thursday’s appointment comes as the West African nation’s new president promised deeper collaboration with neighboring states in the fight against Islamic extremism. President Muhammadu Buhari headed home Thursday after two days of talks in Cameroon focused on Boko Haram.

Its attacks have spread across Nigeria’s borders and forced tens of thousands of refugees to flee to neighboring states. Chad announced Thursday that its troops killed 13 Boko Haram fighters in attacks this week near Lake Chad, where militants slit the throats of three villagers.

It said the extremists had kidnapped about 30 people, and spirited them away on speed boats. Nigeria’s Defense Ministry said Maj. Gen. Iliyasu Isah Abbah will command the 8,700-strong four-nation army based in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital.

Buhari has said it is a disgrace that Nigeria needs foreign troops on its soil. But he noted before leaving Cameroon that “none of us can succeed alone.” Relations with Cameroon have been strained by a long-simmering border dispute over the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula, but the two leaders agreed Thursday that demarcation of their border under U.N. auspices should be completed by year’s end.

Nigeria’s military, poorly equipped with soldiers reporting going into battle without rations and just 30 bullets, last year allowed Boko Haram to take control of a large swath of the northeast. Chadian troops earlier this year forced the militants out of Nigerian border towns. Nigerian troops trained by South African mercenaries drove the extremists from most other towns.

But suicide bombings and village assaults have increased recently. Buhari this month fired all the military’s top commanders. The former chief of defense staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, complained in a retirement address Wednesday that “fifth columnists” in the military and security agencies have leaked information to the insurgents, causing the deaths of many troops ambushed by militants who had advance warning.

Associated Press writer Dany Padire contributed to this report from N’Djamena, Chad.

April 24, 2015

Maiduguri (Nigeria) (AFP) – Suspected Boko Haram insurgents have forced hundreds of soldiers to flee Marte, a border town along the shores of Lake Chad, a local official and witnesses said.

“The terrorists, numbering over 2,000, appeared from various directions on Thursday and engaged the soldiers in Kirenowa town and adjoining communities in Marte,” said Imamu Habeeb, a local community leader.

“They fought with soldiers over the night and the fight continued today (Friday), forcing hundreds of soldiers to flee,” he added from Borno state capital Maiduguri.

Local fighter Shehu Dan Baiwa said the more than 2,000 fighters had been armed with bombs and tanks. “They used the weapons without restraint and succeeded in killing several people,” he said.

This is the third time Boko Haram has seized control of Marte in restive Borno state, a key battleground of their six-year insurgency, which has killed more than 13,000 and left 1.5 million homeless.

The city is among several retaken in recent weeks by Nigeria’s military, which has launched an offensive against the Islamists as part of a regional operation supported by Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

But Boko Haram have been fighting back, and Nigerian troops were also forced to retreat from Boko Haram’s Sambisa Forest stronghold this week after a landmine blast killed one soldier and three vigilantes.

A senior local politician confirmed, on condition of anonymity, that the insurgents had retaken Marte.

“We lost many (people) because some of our people that fled to Chad and Cameroon have return after Nigerian troops recovered the town recently,” he added.

A senior military official confirmed the attack on Marte, but refused to say whether Boko Haram had retaken the town, describing the army’s retreat as “strategic”.

March 29, 2015

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Boko Haram extremists killed 41 people, including a legislator, and scared hundreds of people from polling stations in the northeast, but millions voted across Nigeria Saturday in the most closely contested presidential race in the nation’s history.

In electoral violence elsewhere, three people including a soldier were shot and killed in political thuggery in southern Rivers state, and two car bombs exploded at polling stations in the southeast but no one was injured, according to police.

All the Boko Haram attacks took place in northeastern Nigeria, where the military Friday announced it had cleared the Islamic extremists from all major centers, including the headquarters of their so-called Islamic caliphate.

Nearly 60 million people have cards to vote, and for the first time there is a possibility that a challenger can defeat a sitting president in the high-stakes contest to govern Africa’s richest and most populous nation.

The front-runners among 14 candidates are President Goodluck Jonathan, a 57-year-old Christian from the south, and former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari, 72, from the predominantly Muslim north. Voters also are electing 360 legislators to the House of Assembly, where the opposition currently has a slight edge over Jonathan’s party. Voting for 13 constituencies was postponed until April because of shortages of ballot papers, electoral officials said.

Nigeria’s political landscape was transformed two years ago when the main opposition parties formed a coalition and for the first time united behind one candidate, Buhari. Dozens of legislators defected from Jonathan’s party.

Polling will continue Sunday in some areas where new machines largely failed to read voters’ biometric cards, said Kayode Idowu, spokesman of the Independent National Electoral Commission. That includes some areas of Lagos, a megacity of 20 million and Nigeria’s commercial capital on the Atlantic coast.

Even the president was affected. Three newly imported card readers failed to recognize the fingerprints of Jonathan and his wife. Biometric cards and readers are being used for the first time to discourage the kind of fraud that has marred previous votes.

Afterward, Jonathan wiped sweat from his brow and urged people to be patient as he had been, telling Channels TV: “I appeal to all Nigerians to be patient no matter the pains it takes as long as if, as a nation, we can conduct free and fair elections that the whole world will accept.”

Nigerians exercised extraordinary restraint, waiting hours in heat that rose to 100 degrees (37 degrees Celsius) in some places. Many remained for more hours after voting ended to witness the ballot count, determined to do their part to try to keep the elections honest.

“The high voter turnout and the dedication and patience of Nigerian voters is, in itself, a triumph of Nigerian democracy,” said the national counter-insurgency spokesman, Mike Omeri. He praised the bravery and commitment of military and security agencies that he said made the elections possible.

Struggling with blackouts that are routine, some officials counted ballots by the light of vehicles and cellphones. Earlier, before dawn, Boko Haram extremists invaded the town of Miringa in Borno state, torching people’s homes and then shooting them as they tried to escape the smoke. Twenty-five people died in the attack, Borno state Gov. Kashim Shettima told a news conference in the city of Maiduguri.

“They had sent messages earlier warning us not to encourage democracy by participating in today’s election,” said Mallam Garba Buratai, a Miringa resident who witnessed the attack. Nigeria’s home-grown Islamic extremists say democracy is a corrupt Western concept and point to the endemic corruption as a reason to do away with it in favor of an Islamic caliphate.

Another 14 people were killed in extremist attacks on the town of Biri and Dukku, in Gombe state, according to police and local chief Garkuwan Dukku. Among the dead was a Gombe state legislator, Umaru Ali, said Sani Dugge, the local campaign director for the opposition coalition.

Two voters were killed in Boko Haram attacks on polling stations in the twin Gombe towns of Birin Bolawa and Birin Fulani, according to police. Witnesses said the gunmen yelled that they had warned people to stay away from polling.

In four other northeast towns in Yobe state, gunmen drove in and fired into the air, frightening people to flee into the bush and disrupting any voting, police said. Thousands of people, among more than 1.5 million forced from their homes by the Islamic uprising, lined up to vote at a refugee camp in Yola, capital of northeast Adamawa state and home to as many refugees as its 300,000 residents.

Refugee Elzubairu Ali does not know when she will be able to return to her home. “We have to wait for the time when the Nigerian army will totally wipe them (Boko Haram) out before we can go back,” she said after voting.

Yola resident and university lecturer Abdullahi Sani said, “I’m longing for a change, a positive change to affect the life of humanity, to protect their reputation, their lives and property . and to eradicate corruption finally.”

The failure of Jonathan’s administration to curb the insurgency, which killed about 10,000 people last year, has angered Nigerians in the north. International outrage has grown over another failure — the inability to rescue 219 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram nearly a year ago. The extremists have abducted hundreds more people since then, using them as sex slaves and fighters.

Nervous foreign investors are watching as Nigeria is Africa’s largest destination for direct foreign investment though its oil-dependent economy is hurting from slashed petroleum prices. The Islamic uprising has exacerbated relations between Christians like Jonathan, who dominate the oil-rich south, and Muslims like Buhari, who are the majority in the agricultural and cattle-herding lands of the north. The population of 170 million is almost evenly divided between Christians and Muslims.

Some 1,000 people were killed in rioting after Buhari lost to Jonathan in the 2011 elections. Thousands of Nigerians and foreign workers have left the country amid fears of post-election violence. In 2011, there was no doubt that Jonathan had swept the polls by millions of votes.

Now the race is much closer. Results are expected 48 hours after voting ends. If no clear winner emerges, a runoff will be held.

Umar reported from Maiduguri. Associated Press writers Jerome Delay in Kaduna, Shehu Saulawa in Bauchi, Adamu Adamu in Potiskum, Lekan Oyekanmi in Yola, Hilary Uguru in Port Harcourt, and Ben Curtis in Daura, also contributed to this report.

By W.G. Dunlop and Ammar Karim

Albu Ajil, Iraq (AFP)

March 13, 2015

Thousands of Iraqi forces have laid siege to jihadists holed up in Tikrit but the Islamic State group shrugged off setbacks by welcoming Nigeria’s Boko Haram group into its “caliphate”.

After making major gains in and around the city Wednesday, commanders were confident that Baghdad’s biggest victory yet against IS was only a matter of time.

“Now we are moving to the second phase of our plan,” Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi told reporters in Salaheddin province, of which Tikrit is the capital.

“We are very keen for our losses to be as low as possible. Time is on our side, we have the initiative,” he said Thursday, the 11th day of the offensive.

No one involved has provided casualty figures since the start of this latest and largest operation to retake Tikrit, which has been in IS hands since June.

But dozens of bodies are being driven south to Baghdad and the Shiite holy city of Najaf almost every day and, while government forces have had the upper hand, IS has done damage with suicide car bombs, booby traps and snipers.

“We don’t want to be rushed because we want to avoid casualties,” police Staff Major General Bahaa al-Azzawi told AFP in Albu Ajil, a village from which Tikrit can be seen across the Tigris River.

“Tikrit is sealed off from all sides,” he said.

All towns and villages on the river’s eastern bank were under the control of anti-IS forces Thursday.

Black and white IS flags on walls had been painted over with slogans cursing the jihadist group or praising Shiite militia groups.

Tikrit is on the west bank and, until sappers throw floating bridges across the river, the nearest bridge is in Samarra, nearly 50 kilometers (30 miles) to the south.

– Sunni tribes fighting –

Tikrit was the hometown of dictator Saddam Hussein, remnants of whose Baath party collaborated with the jihadists when they took over almost a third of the country last June.

With crucial military backing from neighboring Iran and a 60-nation US-led coalition, Baghdad has rolled back some of the losses.

It started with operations to secure the Shiite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf and bolster Baghdad’s defenses, then worked its way north, retaking Diyala province earlier this year.

Commanders see the recapture of overwhelmingly Sunni Arab Tikrit as a stepping stone for the reconquest of second city Mosul further north, which once had a population of two million.

Analysts say the battle for Tikrit is also a key test of how well the regular army can work with the myriad of militia groups and prevent reprisals against Sunnis.

The defense minister, himself Sunni, said he was impressed with the level of cooperation and played down concerns that victory in Tikrit could further alienate the minority community.

“What caught my attention and was very positive, was that I met a number of fighters, maybe more than 250, who are all sons of Tikrit,” he said.

“It sends a very positive message to the Iraqi people and lifts the spirit of the security forces.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry was due to discuss the ongoing fight against IS with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on the sidelines of an investment conference in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt later Friday.

– Boko Haram accepted –

IS has countered every military loss lately by ramping up its propaganda war with ever more shocking videos of child fighters executing prisoners or of the destruction of some of the world’s most precious heritage sites.

On Thursday, the group released an audio recording presented as a speech by top IS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani in which he formally welcomes Boko Haram into the IS fold.

Boko Haram had pledged allegiance to IS on Saturday but the move had yet to be formally accepted by IS supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for the Nigerian extremist group to become part of the “caliphate”.

“We announce to you to the good news of the expansion of the caliphate to West Africa,” Adnani said.

He insisted the group was “sure of its victory” regardless of the challenges.

“God is on our side and give us the strength to combat this armada of Crusader countries,” he said.

The group also released a video in which eight men from the region along the Euphrates River straddling Iraq and Syria are beheaded.

The video gives their names and accuses them of spying for a Syria-based rebel group opposed to IS, of supplying intelligence to the Iraqi forces and of torturing an IS member.

In Syria, where IS has also seized swathes of territory, more than 50 regime soldiers and jihadists were killed in heavy fighting in Latakia, President Bashar al-Assad’s home province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/IS_readies_for_Tikrit_last_stand_but_expands_to_Nigeria_999.html.

February 13, 2015

MOUNDOU, Chad (AP) — Suspected Boko Haram militants staged their first attack in Chad on Friday, hitting the third country outside their home base of Nigeria in recent days as the region beefs up its military response to the armed Muslim extremist group.

The assault took place in the village of Ngouboua on the shore of Lake Chad early Friday, and left a community leader, one Chadian soldier and at least two militants dead, Chad’s military said. Boko Haram has threated any nation contributing to the fight against them. The nation of Chad is contributing the most military muscle to the effort, with its soldiers already attacking the insurgents in the countries of Cameroon and Nigeria.

“The assailants have scattered and the army is now pursuing them,” Chad army Col. Azem Bermandoa Agouna told The Associated Press by telephone. Ngouboua is already home to nearly 3,300 refugees who had fled Boko Haram-related violence back home in Nigeria, according to the United Nations. The U.N. refugee agency said Friday it had heard reports of the deadly violence there and was investigating.

“Security is a major concern for all humanitarian agencies, and for the refugees themselves,” the agency said Friday at a briefing in Geneva. Boko Haram’s insurgency has forced some 157,000 people to seek refuge in Niger, while 40,000 others have gone to Cameroon and 17,000 are in Chad, the U.N. said. Almost 1 million Nigerians are internally displaced, according to the country’s own statistics.

The United Nations special representative for West Africa said Friday that Nigeria’s military needs to show “greater resolve” in the widening fight against the extremist group Boko Haram. “I think we all expect more from the Nigerian military,” Mohammed Ibn Chambas said at the U.N.

Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin all have pledged to send military support though Chadian soldiers are already fighting Boko Haram militants inside Cameroon and Nigeria. The multinational force to fight Boko Haram is expected to be formally launched in coming weeks.

Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal. Associated Press reporter Cara Anna at the United Nations contributed to this report.

December 21, 2014

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Thousands of members of Nigeria’s home-grown Islamic extremist Boko Haram group strike across the border in Cameroon, with coordinated attacks on border towns, a troop convoy and a major barracks.

Farther north, Boko Haram employs recruits from Chad to enforce its control in northeastern Nigerian towns and cities. In Niger, the government has declared a “humanitarian crisis” and appealed for international aid to help tens of thousands of Nigerian refugees driven from their homes by the insurgency.

These recent events show how neighboring countries are increasingly being drawn into Nigeria’s Islamic uprising. Thousands of people have been killed in Nigeria’s 5-year insurgency and some 1.6 million people driven from their homes.

“We are concerned about the increasing regionalization of Boko Haram,” said Comfort Ero, Africa director for the International Crisis Group. The countries have been slow to recognize “the gravity and extent of the threat from Boko Haram.”

Ero cautioned that cooperation between the neighboring countries is weak. “None of the sides is willing to share information with the other,” Ero said. “There’s always been a lack of confidence in terms of shared regional security.”

She said there is also distrust of the capabilities of Nigeria’s once-proud military, which has been battered by Boko Haram. A court-martial this week sentenced 54 soldiers to death by firing squad for refusing to fight the extremists.

Chad responded this week by opening a regional “counter-terrorism cell” against Boko Haram in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital 40 miles (60 kilometers) from the Nigerian border, according to an adviser to French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Boko Haram’s threat to neighboring countries was highlighted on Wednesday, when some 5,000 insurgents launched simultaneous attacks on border towns in Cameroon, that country’s Ministry of Defense said. During the fighting, the militants set off a roadside improvised explosive device that hit a military convoy. They also attacked the main border barracks at Amchide town, the defense statement said.

Cameroonian troops repelled the attacks and killed 116 militants, while losing a sergeant and a lieutenant, it said, adding that Boko Haram must have suffered additional casualties on the Nigerian side caused by Cameroonian artillery fire.

Fighters from Chad, Niger and Cameroon long have been identified among Boko Haram fighters in Nigeria. But residents fleeing Boko Haram now report that Chadian recruits are enforcing Boko Haram’s rule in northeast Nigerian border towns in Borno state. People who escaped from Gajigana village, which was attacked a week ago, said fighters they called “Chadian mercenaries” have taken charge of most communities, even sitting in courts to adjudicate local disputes.

“They monitor every movement, all the things we do, the kind of people you meet with,” said Kalli Abdullahi, who escaped to Maiduguri this week and spoke to The Associated Press. If residents break the strict Shariah law “they will get you and kill you so as to instill fear in people,” he said.

Nigerian government officials confirm that Boko Haram controls 12 of 27 local government areas in Borno state, as well as some in Adamawa and Yobe states. And they long have had camps in Chad, Cameroon and Niger, say experts.

The area where the four countries’ borders meet is generally poor and long has been ignored by governments. Desertification has intensified tensions. High unemployment means there are groups of disgruntled youths who are an easy target for Boko Haram recruitment. Across borders, people often belong to the same tribe and speak the same local languages. Boko Haram offers signing bonuses and monthly pay to those who join, say residents.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau long has expressed his international ambitions, saying his group is fighting to make “the entire world” an Islamic state. Analyst Ely Karmon wrote in a paper for the Terrorism Research Initiative that Boko Haram is “an immediate and infectious regional threat.”

Associated Press writer Jamey Keaten contributed to this report from Paris. Faul reported from Cambridge, England.