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Good morning. Please see below news review for May 7, 2012. Of interest in today's clips: -U.S. Special Forces Commander Seeks to Expand Operations -Al-Qaeda Dominates Northern Mali, Desecrates Timbuktu Tomb -Africa Urged to Fight Illegal Weapons -South Sudanese Refugees to be Airlifted Out of Sudan -UN Official Appeals for Urgent Funds to Assist Millions Across Africa's Sahel Region -Gunmen in Army Uniform Execute Five in East Nigeria U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs Please send questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org DSN (314) 421-2687 or commercial +49-(0)711-729-2687 Headline Date Outlet
U.S. Special Forces Commander 05/06/2012 Seeks to Expand Operations
WASHINGTON -- A top U.S. commander is seeking authority to expand clandestine operations against militants and insurgencies around the globe, a sign of shifting Pentagon tactics and priorities after a grueling decade of large-scale wars.
Al-Qaeda Dominates Northern Mali, 05/06/2012 Desecrates Timbuktu Tomb
BAMAKO - Members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have desecrated a saint's tomb in the fabled city of Timbuktu, an act condemned by Malian authorities as "unspeakable."
Africa Urged to Fight The New 05/06/2012 Illegal Times Weapons
KIGALI - African countries have been called upon to cooperate in the fight against illegal fire arms trade and possession. The call was made, yesterday, at the closure of a two-day regional conference on illegal Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in Kigal...
Sudanese Refugees to be Airlifted Out of Sudan
Thousands of South Sudanese stranded for months in a camp in Sudan are to be airlifted home, an aid group says. At least 12,000 refugees were stuck in the river town of Kosti, in White Nile State, when boat traffic south was cut because of crossborder vio...
UN Official Appeals for Urgent Funds to Assist UN News 05/06/2012 Millions Centre Across Africa's Sahel Region
Speaking from Niger, a top United Nations official on Sunday appealed to the international community to provide the resources needed to help millions in crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa, warning that the situation is critical and there is no time ...
ECOWAS Talking Inter Softer, But 05/06/2012 Press Still Holding Service Big Stick
DAKAR - Regional leaders meeting in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, on May 3 appeared to slightly retreat from their positions against coup leaders in Guinea-Bissau and Mali, but the Economic Community of West African States continues to press for a speedy ...
UPDF Ready to Shoot Down 05/06/2012 Sudan War Planes
The Uganda Peoples' Defence Force (UPDF) is ready to fend off any attack, be it from a foreign force, using superior war planes like those Khartoum is using against South Sudan.
Gunmen in Army Uniform 05/06/2012 Reuters Execute Five in East Nigeria
MAIDUGURI - Gunmen in military uniform abducted five people in eastern Nigeria, tied their hands and shot them dead, police said on Saturday.
Report Increases Number of Killed During Tunisia's Revolution to 338
TUNIS, Tunisia -- An independent commission charged with investigating abuses committed during the January 2011 uprising that ousted Tunisia's longtime dictator has identified more deaths and injuries than previously reported.
Leone Group Opposes Deployment of Troops to Somalia Japan Holds Developmen t 05/06/2012 Conference in Africa
FREETOWN - A Freetown-based NGO has opposed the pending deployment of Sierra Leonean troops in Somalia.
RABAT - Japan is this year giving $1.3 billion in aid to African nations to help combat the effects of climate change, Japan's Foreign Affairs Minister Koichiro Gemba said in Morocco on Saturday.
Young African Leaders Embrace Hope, Optimism
State Departm ent
WASHINGTON -- Africa deserves to have a more positive image in the world, and its young people can help make that happen, according to a group of young Africans visiting the United States on a professional exchange program.
Somalia's Capital Enjoys Building Boom
Somalia's last president before the country erupted into decades of war made an ominous warning: force him from power, and he would leave Mogadishu as he found it, with only one road. The rest he would destroy.
30 African Nations Finalize U.S. 05/06/2012 Planning for AFRICOM Africa Endeavor 12
ACCRA -- Participants from more than 30 African nations met with their Western counterparts from the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands this week in Accra, Ghana, to finalize planning for Exercise Africa Endeavor 2012.
UN News Service05/06/2012 Africa Briefs
UN News Centre
-UN voices concern over recent prison breaks in Côte d'Ivoire -Convening of elders important step on path to ending Somalia's transition–UN envoy -Danish national appointed to lead UN peacebuilding efforts in Sierra Leone -UN refugee agency providing ai...
News Headline: U.S. Special Forces Commander Seeks to Expand Operations | News Date: 05/06/2012 Outlet Full Name: LA Times News Text: By David Cloud WASHINGTON — A top U.S. commander is seeking authority to expand clandestine operations against militants and insurgencies around the globe, a sign of shifting Pentagon tactics and priorities after a
grueling decade of large-scale wars. Adm. William H. McRaven, a Navy SEAL and commander of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, has developed plans that would provide far-reaching new powers to make special operations units "the force of choice" against "emerging threats" over the next decade, internal Defense Department documents show. America's secret military forces have grown dramatically over the last decade as the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community have increasingly merged missions, including drone strikes and counterterrorism operations. But some Pentagon officials and outside experts warn that giving secret soldiers too much additional authority outside the normal chain of command might lead to abuses. The little-known Special Operations Command, which McRaven heads from his headquarters in Tampa, Fla., oversees more than 60,000 military personnel and civilians. The command includes Army Green Berets who specialize in training foreign military forces; Ranger light infantry units; Navy SEALs; Air Force squadrons flying drones and aerial gunships; and the Pentagon's most elite combat units, Delta Force and the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, known as DEVGRU, which conducted the Bin Laden raid. Congress has ordered the Pentagon to cut its budget growth, and President Obama has proposed reducing ground forces by 80,000 soldiers and 20,000 Marines. The White House has proposed increasing the 2013 Pentagon budget in only two areas: putting more forces in the western Pacific to counterChina's growing clout, and expanding special operations. McRaven's ideas, outlined in draft plans obtained by The Times, provide the first unclassified blueprint of how the Pentagon would achieve that goal. "We are in a generational struggle," McRaven says in a draft paper circulating at the Pentagon. "For the foreseeable future, the United States will have to deal with various manifestations of inflamed violent extremism. In order to conduct sustained operations around the globe, our special operations forces must adapt." His proposals parallel Obama's preference for using SEALs and other secretive forces, using remotely piloted Predator drones to launch missile strikes, and other unconventional tactics whenever possible, an approach the White House endorsed in a new defense strategy early this year. But the draft plans appear to challenge assertions by Obama administration officials that the threat from Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups has significantly diminished after a decade of unrelenting pressure by America and its allies. "Non-state actors, such as [Al Qaeda], will increasingly threaten our national security," notes an unsigned staff memo attached to the documents. "They will establish bases in places not under sovereign control. Moving easily across political boundaries and merging with indigenous populations, these non-state actors will seek to exploit our vulnerabilities." The draft plans do not specify where special operations would be increased, but officers and officials familiar with Pentagon thinking say it probably would include remote and chaotic areas of the Middle East, such as Yemen, parts of northern Africa stretching from Somalia to Nigeria and the Maghreb, and to a lesser extent, parts of Asia and Latin America. If the plan is adopted, McRaven would be given additional authority to move special operations units quickly from country to country, to train foreign military units and to maintain a continual presence in parts of the globe where militants and terrorism networks are deemed a threat to U.S. interests.
Special operations forces already are deployed in at least 71 countries, although most are involved in training. Some current and former officers worry that such broad authority could lead to special operations teams carrying out unilateral raids or training proxy military forces without the knowledge of other U.S. commanders, diplomats or civilian officials at the Pentagon. "It's a terrible idea," said a recently retired four-star commander who agreed to discuss the proposal in return for anonymity. Special operations units "are wonderful, but they are focused on grabbing a terrorist or some other mission of the moment, and they don't want to be slowed down by anything." McRaven's aides insist that the elite teams would remain under the direct day-to-day control of Pentagon regional commanders once deployed. But under his plan, McRaven would have greater authority to move forces and resources instead of merely responding to requests from regional commanders. "Who better to say where special operations forces should be than the commander of Special Operations Command, with years of experience behind him?" asked one aide, defending the plan.
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News Headline: Al-Qaeda Dominates Northern Mali, Desecrates Timbuktu Tomb | News Date: 05/06/2012 Outlet Full Name: AFP News Text: BAMAKO - Members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have desecrated a saint's tomb in the fabled city of Timbuktu, an act condemned by Malian authorities as ―unspeakable.‖ ―Members of AQIM, supported by (the armed Islamist group) Ansar Dine, have destroyed the tomb of Saint Sidi (Mahmoud Ben) Amar. They set fire to the tomb,‖ an official told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that they had pledged to destroy others too. Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage site and cradle of Islamic learning, has been under the control of AQIM and Ansar Dine since the groups took advantage of a March 22 coup to take control of northern Mali. ―They promised to destroy other tombs, Timbuktu is in shock. Now they want to take and control other tombs and manuscripts,‖ the official said. A local journalist confirmed the tomb was destroyed. ―This is very serious,‖ he said. Mali's transitional government expressed outrage over the desecration, calling it ―an unspeakable act‖, in a statement read out on national television. Beyond its historic mosques, the World Heritage site comprises 16 cemeteries and mausolea, according to the UNESCO website. These tombs are ―essential elements in a religious system as, according to popular belief; they constitute a rampart that shields the city from all misfortune‖, the U.N. cultural organization said. Sometimes called the city of 333 saints, Timbuktu is also home to nearly 100,000 ancient manuscripts, some dating to the 12th century, preserved in family homes and private libraries under the care of religious scholars.
At its height in the 1500s, the city, a Niger River port at the edge of the Sahara a thousand kilometers (600 miles) north of Bamako, was the key intersection for salt traders traveling from the north and gold traders from the south. It was also a renowned center of Islamic scholarship, with manuscripts written in Arabic and Fulani by scholars of the ancient Mali empire, covering a range of subjects including Islam, history, astronomy, music, botany, genealogy and anatomy.
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News Headline: Africa Urged to Fight Illegal Weapons | News Date: 05/06/2012 Outlet Full Name: The New Times News Text: By Grace Mugoya KIGALI - African countries have been called upon to cooperate in the fight against illegal fire arms trade and possession. The call was made, yesterday, at the closure of a two-day regional conference on illegal Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in Kigali. The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Stanley Nsabimana, cited various measures the government had put in place to counter illegal trade or possession of fire arms. ―The population, through community policing, is in touch with authorities and police, not only about arms possession, but any other act that may be against the law,‖ Nsabimana said. The conference was organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in collaboration with the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It attracted experts within and outside the region, including representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Jaky L. Villettaz, the Head of Delegation of the ICRC, warned that due to conflicts in some countries, illegal inflow of weapons might increase. ―The conflicts that have been witnessed in Libya, Mali, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan and Southern Sudan, to name but a few, can have a negative impact to neighbouring countries in terms of illegal trade in arms,‖ said Villettaz. Referring to the East African Community, Villettaz said, compared to other regions on the continent, the bloc has not been affected much by the trade, but warned it was high time it strengthened measures against it. ―In respect to the promotion of international law and humanitarian diplomacy, it is a mandate that respective governments protect the population against conflicts,‖ he said. Nsabimana that based on the measures in place, the country is free from the trade but noted that it remains a threat since it is rife in neighbouring countries.
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News Headline: South Sudanese Refugees to be Airlifted Out of Sudan | News Date: 05/06/2012
Outlet Full Name: BBC News Text: Thousands of South Sudanese stranded for months in a camp in Sudan are to be airlifted home, an aid group says. At least 12,000 refugees were stuck in the river town of Kosti, in White Nile State, when boat traffic south was cut because of cross-border violence. They will now be taken by bus to Khartoum and then flown to Juba, South Sudan's capital, the International Organisation for Migration said. The IOM says Sudan has dropped a demand that they leave by 20 May. Meanwhile, a UN deadline for both South Sudan and Sudan to cease all hostilities or face sanctions expired yesterday. The sporadic unrest has sparked fears of all-out war between the countries. The IOM said the airlift of the South Sudanese refugees had been made possible after the Sudanese government agreed to help. It said Khartoum had promised to provide emergency travel documents and arrange for the transport of excess baggage which cannot be accommodated on the charter flights on which the South Sudanese will be flown south. "We hope to start within a week," Jill Helke, head of the the IOM office in Khartoum, told the AFP news agency. The refugees are among an estimated 350,000 South Sudanese stranded in Sudan after a period of grace for them to regularise their status ended on 8 April, according to the AFP news agency. After South Sudanese troops briefly occupied the disputed Sudanese border town and oil field of Heglig last month, the governor of White Nile state declared the South Sudanese a security risk and demanded that they leave by 5 May. He later extended this deadline to 20 May, and has now withdrawn it in response to the IOM's departure plan, the IOM says.
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News Headline: UN Official Appeals for Urgent Funds to Assist Millions Across Africa's Sahel Region |
News Date: 05/06/2012 Outlet Full Name: UN News Centre News Text: Speaking from Niger, a top United Nations official on Sunday appealed to the international community to provide the resources needed to help millions in crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa, warning that the situation is critical and there is no time to lose. ―This is one that the international community cannot and must not ignore,‖ said the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, in a telephone interview from Niger's capital, Niamey. Accompanied by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, Ms. Cousin is currently in Niger to raise awareness of the crisis and mobilize support for emergency assistance to the people affected in the country and in neighbouring Mali. There are currently 15 million people facing food insecurity in the Sahel, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, and includes countries such as Niger and Mali. The trip is Ms. Cousin's first field visit since assuming the leadership of WFP one month ago.
She stressed that the situation is critical following the recent drought which has brought hunger for the third time in recent years. ―Niger is again facing a crisis of a failed harvest because last season the rains did not come. A failed harvest is always a food security crisis,‖ Ms. Cousin said. ―Because the rains failed last season, what you're seeing is that the hungry poor, the most vulnerable populations, are now at the point where they have depleted their assets. And as a result, they have no food.‖ In Niger, WFP has launched an emergency operation to support 3.3 million people, with a special focus on children under two. Some 35 per cent of people being assisted will receive cash. Over 423,000 thousand people have already received support through food-for-assets and cash-for-work programmes. As part of their three-day visist, the two UN senior officials are meeting with some of the thousands who have fled fighting in neighbouring Mali. The refugees have put a further strain on communities in Niger that are already facing a food crisis. ―In this case, the crisis is different than it's ever been in the past,‖ said Ms. Cousin. ―It's even more complicated because of the evolving conflict situation in Mali as well as the high food prices.‖ WFP estimates it needs some $450 million to help people across the region. ―We have about three to four weeks for the international community to invest in WFP and other UN partner organizations working in the Sahel,‖ the food agency chief said. Last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the global community to act quickly to address what he described as a ―cascading crisis‖ sweeping the Sahel. ―The statistics are sobering: 15 million people are directly affected. More than 200,000 children died of malnutrition last year – and another one million are threatened right now,‖ he had said in an address to the Luxembourg Parliament.
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News Headline: ECOWAS Talking Softer, But Still Holding Big Stick | News Date: 05/06/2012 Outlet Full Name: Inter Press Service News Text: By Souleymane Gano DAKAR - Regional leaders meeting in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, on May 3 appeared to slightly retreat from their positions against coup leaders in Guinea-Bissau and Mali, but the Economic Community of West African States continues to press for a speedy return to constitutional rule in both countries. The Ivorian president, Alassane Ouattara, who is also the current head of ECOWAS, said "The seriousness of events in Mali and the rejection of our resolutions by the junta have slowed the momentum of implementation of our decisions." His remarks came as the country's military junta rejected the regional organisation's plan to deploy troops to the West African country – this despite the continued control of the north by Tuareg rebels and Islamist forces, and an Apr. 30 outbreak of fighting between rival groups of soldiers in the capital, Bamako, that lasted for three days. Heads of state at the Dakar summit also had to respond to the rejection by the Guinea-Bissau military of key details of a proposed interim administration for that country.
A revised plan from ECOWAS calls for Guinea-Bissau's parliament to extend its term, with a newlyelected speaker of the house assuming the role of interim president for a one-year transitional period. The fresh resolution by ECOWAS heads of state also called for a consensus prime minister to be named to lead a broad-based government during the transition. "Neither the interim president nor the transitional prime minister may stand as candidates in the eventual presidential election," stressed Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, the president of the ECOWAS Commission. "Appropriate mechanisms will be found to extend the mandate of the current parliament to cover the transition period." Analysts say the new resolution appears to show a softening of ECOWAS's position on Guinea-Bissau. The regional organisation initially wanted Raimundo Pereira – a member of the dominant African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) and interim president at the time of the coup – to head a transitional government, but this was rejected by the coup's leaders in Bissau. Ouédraogo added that the ECOWAS Standby Force will be deployed to Guinea-Bissau to supervise the withdrawal of the Angolan Technical Assistance Mission, ensure security during the transitional period, and support reforms of the defence and security forces. The PAIGC, whose candidate was poised to win a second round of presidential elections before the Apr. 12 coup intervened, has since condemned the new plan. "Our party ... will not take part in any transition government and we reiterate our position taken since the coup, which is that Raimundo Pereira and Carlos Gomes (prime minister at the time of the coup) be returned to their respective posts," said PAIGC secretary general Rui Dia Sousa. The summit instructed the ECOWAS Commission to seek assistance from the African Union, the United Nations and the wider international community to implement these initiatives in Guinea-Bissau, he concluded. Turning to the Malian crisis, the Dakar summit called on transitional authorities there to accelerate the elaboration of a roadmap for a return to constitutional rule, including a clear timeline for legislative, organisational and operational activity leading up to the holding of presidential elections in Mali. "The Summit repeats that any person who obstructs the proper functioning of institutions of the Republic will be subject to targeted sanctions," stressed Ouédraogo. West African heads of state also made a fresh call to Mali's armed forces to devote themselves to the protection of the country's people and its territorial integrity, and to refrain from any acts likely to disturb the transition process. ECOWAS added that it would only send troops to Mali at the request of the interim authorities. Here too, analysts note that ECOWAS has reconsidered decisions taken at an earlier special summit (in Abidjan on Apr. 26) when it committed to sending an armed force to Mali. The junta in Bamako rejected this out of hand, arguing that it would violate the country's sovereignty. At a May 2 press conference, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, Saïd Djinnit, warned of the serious threat posed by the instability in Mali. "The situation, particularly in the north, constitutes first of all a serious threat to Mali, but also to the whole of West Africa and globally," he said. "(The United Nations) will support all sub-regional initiatives to fight against terrorists present in northern Mali," said Djinnit.
At the opening of the summit in Dakar a day later, Senegalese President Macky Sall called for all parties to persevere along a path of dialogue, adding that, "(ECOWAS seeks) to eradicate the seeds of destabilisation which, in the end, will not spare any country in the region." Despite the intense focus on Mali and Guinea-Bissau over the past month, Ouattara urged leaders to remain focused on development in the region. "The management of political crises like the ones we have had to deal with at these summits must leave space for the other objectives of our regional organisation, including the construction of roads, schools, and hospitals, and improving living conditions for people and especially youth employment." Political scientist Massaer Diallo, the president of the Institute for Political and Strategic Studies in Dakar, said, "The final resolution from ECOWAS shows there is still a reluctance to respect democracy. Constitutional rule must be re-established in Guinea-Bissau, and it is also fundamental in the case of Mali." "Despite all the negotiations that can take place at the international level, the question of Mali's territorial integrity is non-negotiable, and it calls for the entire international community to restore it."
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News Headline: UPDF Ready to Shoot Down Sudan War Planes | News Date: 05/06/2012 Outlet Full Name: New Vision News Text: By John Semakula and John Masaba The Uganda Peoples' Defence Force (UPDF) is ready to fend off any attack, be it from a foreign force, using superior war planes like those Khartoum is using against South Sudan. Security minister Wilson Muruli Mukasa said Uganda's defence is ready to deal with any attacks, if the war between Sudan and South Sudan spills over into the country. Muruli made the remarks during an exclusive interview with Saturday Vision on Thursday. Khartoum has been using fighter jets to hit positions in South Sudan, killing people and destroying property. But Muruli said: ―It's not the fighter planes alone which win a war, but other factors, including the preparedness of the force and the economic strength of the country.‖ ―We have seen forces with rudimentary weapons beat armies with modern munitions. Vietnam is an example,‖ Muruli said. Muruli emphasised that Uganda would not join the war in South Sudan without following the law and listening to regional bodies like IGAD. But he noted that Uganda is already losing a lot in bilateral trade because of the ongoing conflict since South Sudan is one of its main trade partners. In a separate interview with Saturday Vision, army spokesperson Col. Felix Kulayigye emphasised the readiness of the UPDF to defend Ugandans should anyone attack the country. ―We shall not provoke anyone into war, but if we are attacked, we shall take war to whoever has provoked us. Do you think we shall sit down and watch as planes bomb Ugandans because they have
superior weapons?‖ Kulayigye asked. Speaking about Uganda's golden jubilee celebrations, Muruli said in spite of the dark past, there were many reasons for Ugandans to celebrate. ―We have remained together as country, yet there are other states which have collapsed. We can now finance 75% of our budget and our relationship with our neighbours is strong,‖ he said. As a testimony of the good ties with Uganda's neighbours, he said the UPDF was in Somalia to pacify the country in the spirit of pan Africanism. Muruli also said Uganda's education system is also doing well, citing the free primary and secondary education programmes and an increase in the number of universities from one to over 27 today. ―Our infrastructure has also improved with the country generating more power,‖ he said. Muruli commended Uganda's past leaders for the benefits the country is enjoying today. He said these should also be remembered as we celebrate the independence anniversary. ―The NRM has not worked in a vacuum. Obote received the instruments of power and other leaders contributed something, in spite of the fact that there were upheavals during their reigns,‖ he said. On Sunday, the Government will launch the Golden Jubilee celebrations, to kickstart activities in the build up to October 9, when Uganda will mark 50 years since she attained independence from Britain. As part of the celebrations, the Government will build four comprehensive secondary schools of international standard and also construct a pavilion at Kololo Ceremonial ground, in addition to upgrading it to international standards. Muruli said for the country to consolidate what it has achieved and move forward; Ugandans should deepen their spirit of patriotism and jealously pursue ―our interests as a nation‖. He dismissed fears by critics that the country might roll back to the dark days, saying the current leadership has put in place the right framework to ensure a smooth transition of power. ―The 1995 constitution guarantees everybody the basic rights and freedoms and we have a vibrant Parliament and our army is more nationalistic than ever before,‖Muruli said. Since independence in 1962, Uganda has drifted from one conflict into another as leaders struggled to grab power from each other, making it the country with the most number of military coups in the region.
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News Headline: Gunmen in Army Uniform Execute Five in East Nigeria | News Date: 05/06/2012 Outlet Full Name: Reuters News Text: MAIDUGURI - Gunmen in military uniform abducted five people in eastern Nigeria, tied their hands and shot them dead, police said on Saturday. The attack overnight took place in Dananaca village, Taraba state, which is usually peaceful but which suffered a bombing at the hands of Islamist militants last week. "The police are still investigating to ascertain if the people are real soldiers and from which unit," police spokesman for Taraba state Ibiam Mbaseki told Reuters by telephone.
"If they were genuine military men, they would have contacted us before carrying out such an operation, but we don't know where they came from." Islamist sect Boko Haram, blamed for dozens of shootings and bombings since it launched an uprising in 2009, has sought to extend its reach to much of the north and the capital Abuja. The group has become President Goodluck Jonathan's number one security headache. Suspected sect members attending a wedding party on Saturday opened fire on a military surveillance team monitoring the event, killing three civilians, Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa of the joint military task force said. Security forces combating Boko Haram complain that they hide amongst the civilian population, but the military's heavyhanded crackdowns and summary executions of suspects has angered the already alienated population of northern Nigeria. The sect's armed struggle intensified after its spiritual leader Mohammed Yusuf died in police custody in 2009. A bomb blast struck a police chief's convoy in eastern Nigeria's Taraba state on Monday, killing 11 people in the first such insurgent attack in the state. A flurry of arrests of top figures in recent months had raised hopes the Boko Haram insurgency could be on the wane, but attacks in the past two weeks suggest they are very much still at large. Insecurity has spread across the north. Suspected Boko Haram militants stormed a prison in their northeastern heartland on Friday, killing two guards and freeing the inmates, police said. Gunmen threw bombs and opened fire on a cattle market in remote northeastern Nigeria on Wednesday, killing at least 60 people, a spokesman for the Yobe state governor said. It was not clear if the killers were Islamists or a criminal gang.
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News Headline: Report Increases Number of Killed During Tunisia's Revolution to 338 | News Date: 05/06/2012 Outlet Full Name: AP News Text: TUNIS — An independent commission charged with investigating abuses committed during the January 2011 uprising that ousted Tunisia's longtime dictator has identified more deaths and injuries than previously reported. Saturday's report says there were 338 deaths and 2,147 injuries. Previous estimates were of 300 dead and 700 wounded during the revolution, which inspired similar revolts in Egypt and Libya. The report says 66 percent of those killed were shot, and concludes that responsibility for the violence rests primarily with ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The commission's report followed a 15-month investigation led by human rights lawyer Taoufik Bouberbala.
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News Headline: Sierra Leone Group Opposes Deployment of Troops to Somalia | News Date: 05/06/2012 Outlet Full Name: Africa Review News Text: By Kemo Cham FREETOWN - A Freetown-based NGO has opposed the pending deployment of Sierra Leonean troops in Somalia. Over 800 Sierra Leonean troops are at an advanced stage of preparation for deployment in restive Southern Somalia as part of the UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMSOM). A few weeks back the Somali militant group, Al – Shabaab, warned the Sierra Leone government against the deployment, sparking heated media debate about the rationale behind the government`s decision to deploy. The Pan-African Community Movement (PACM), becomes the first organised group to issue a statement, Saturday, calling the government`s decision ―wrong‖ and stressed that the problem in Somalia cannot be resolved by military means. ―The deployment of Sierra Leonean soldiers in Somalia is wrong,‖ the organisation said, adding that it could only be seen by the Somali people as ―an attempt by the rulers of Sierra Leone to be part of the greater conspiracy, sponsored by western imperialist forces to dominate and further the long suffering of the people of Somalia and deepen the conflict.‖ Western agenda The deployment, the group further argued, might also endanger Sierra Leonean citizens, as Al-Shabaab has already threatened to do. The group insists it is not opposed to the involvement of Sierra Leonean soldiers in resolving African problems, but that it believed search for solution in Somalia is driven ―by outside forces‖. A number of foreign nations, including the United States and UK, have been involved in the preparation of the Sierra Leonean contingent. US is believed to have spent over $50 million in procurement of military wares.
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News Headline: Japan Holds Development Conference in Africa | News Date: 05/06/2012 Outlet Full Name: SAPA/AFP News Text: RABAT - Japan is this year giving $1.3 billion in aid to African nations to help combat the effects of climate change, Japan's Foreign Affairs Minister Koichiro Gemba said in Morocco on Saturday. Speaking at the start of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, which is being held in Marrakech, Gemba noted Japan had also given $340 million (260 million euros) to fight major diseases on the continent and had provided aid to countries in the Horn of Africa region to tackle droughts. Several African countries are facing food shortages as conflict and climate-related crop failures take their toll. The United Nations' food agency last week launched an appeal for funds for Africa, and said 265 million people on the continent regularly go hungry. Started by Japan in 1993, the Tokyo conference aims to drum up investment and keep development of
Africa at the top of the global agenda. Erastus Jarnalesse Mwencha, the deputy chair of the African Union Commission, noted that many African nations were recording a positive economic growth rate, despite difficult conditions. ―Sustainable development from now on depends on the consolidation of security and peace, and the processes of democratisation and good governance,‖ he said. This year's conference is being attended by 51 African nations and co-hosted by Morocco.
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News Headline: Young African Leaders Embrace Hope, Optimism | News Date: 05/06/2012 Outlet Full Name: State Department News Text: By Louise Fenner WASHINGTON — Africa deserves to have a more positive image in the world, and its young people can help make that happen, according to a group of young Africans visiting the United States on a professional exchange program. ―We have to finish with the idea that Africa is the continent of war, the continent of diseases, of every problem,‖ said Joannie Bewa, a physician and social activities coordinator for the Young Beninese Leaders Association. ―We have to finish with all of that and know that there is hope on our continent.‖ Bewa is one of 23 Africans from French- and Portuguese-speaking countries who converged in Washington April 30–May 5 for the beginning of a three-week visit to the United States under the State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). Last year, the program brought 5,300 current or emerging leaders in government, media, education, the arts, business and other fields from around the world to America. The African group will travel to other U.S. cities to learn about the U.S. political process, volunteerism, youth and women's programs, and other aspects of American civic life. Bewa expressed hope that solutions to Africa's challenges will come from its young people. ―The U.S. gives money to programs to fight HIV/AIDS, and that's great,‖ she said. ―But what about getting young African girls and boys to be more involved in science in order to find the vaccine or tablet against HIV/AIDS?‖ ―We don't have to wait for every solution to come from Europe or the USA,‖ she said. ―They have to be our solutions.‖ LOOKING TO YOUNG PEOPLE On May 2, the group met with Grant Harris, special assistant to President Obama for African affairs, and senior State Department officials, including Ronan Farrow, special adviser for global youth issues. The Americans stressed the Obama administration's commitment to supporting Africa's democratic and economic advancement, and its priority on empowering young people. They encouraged the Africans to offer ideas for ways the United States can work with the people of Africa, and to continue the dialogue after they return home. ―Young people are the primary architects of economic growth and innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa,‖ Farrow said. As Bewa suggested, ―the cure for the next great pandemic may be in a young African's mind,‖ he said. ―That is why we work so directly on partnering and empowering young Africans.‖
U.S. embassies around the world are developing youth advisory councils where young people can offer policy recommendations, Farrow said. The councils are also asked how the United States can empower them to build their own grass-roots solutions to problems they identify. Erick Nwiyo Sankum, an IVLP participant and founder and chief executive of the SANER World Foundation, which promotes mental health among young Cameroonians, said he agrees that education ―is a vehicle of transformation in Africa.‖ He said he is gratified that support for education is an important part of U.S. foreign policy, and he stressed the importance of building strong institutions. ―Innovation in the classroom is good,‖ he said, ―but seeing that an institution is established wherein policies can be generated and the government can be challenged or criticized through institutions — that's going to be better.‖ Akere-Maimo Ano-Ebie, communications officer for the Cameroon Coalition Against Malaria, said the IVLP participants are being challenged to ask ―How can we be engaged? How can we take issues into our own hands rather than waiting on our leaders to push the issues?‖ ―There are so many ideas we can give,‖ he said, ―but they need to be more strategic rather than emotional.‖ Gilberto Macuacua of Mozambique, a journalist and activist against gender-based violence, said he hopes to learn more about American approaches to gender equality and violence prevention, and also to improve his leadership skills. He hosts a weekly television program that discusses issues such as masculinity, violence against women, and women's empowerment. ―My vision is to build a ‗new man' in Mozambique,‖ he said. ―I would like to see how [American] young people and organizations use social media to achieve youth initiatives,‖ Macuacua said. ―And I would like to share the experiences of my organization. We are doing very important things and I think they have a good impact on Mozambiquen society.‖ Sankum echoed the feelings voiced by many other participants. The discussions with U.S. officials and IVLP participants ―gave me another perspective about African issues, that of being positive, that of having hope for change in Africa,‖ he said. ―It's all about collective efforts,‖ he added. ―Stay positive, act strategically, build on ideas and build on a positive image about Africa to the world. There's so much we can do.‖
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News Headline: Somalia's Capital Enjoys Building Boom | News Date: 05/06/2012 Outlet Full Name: AFP News Text: By Mustafa Haji Abdi Somalia's last president before the country erupted into decades of war made an ominous warning: force him from power, and he would leave Mogadishu as he found it, with only one road. The rest he would destroy. The threat came true: President Siad Barre was ousted in a 1991 coup, and the once elegant, Italian colonial-era seaside town was reduced to a wasteland of ruined buildings in years of bloody battles between rival militias. Now, 21-years later and eight months after Al-Qaeda-allied insurgents abandoned much of the city
following pressure from the African Union and government forces, the capital is showing signs of life, with reconstruction underway and land prices soaring. "Security is still not reliable, but people decided they wanted to return life to normal," trader Ahmed Sheikh Gure said. "People are rebuilding their destroyed buildings," he added, waving at a newly repaired shop and a busy construction site. Though Somalia's war is far from over, a regional offensive did force Islamist Shebab insurgents from many strongholds and they abandoned the city in August. The scars of war remain clear, with hundreds of thousands of displaced people living in and around Mogadishu, many in basic rag-and-plastic shelters, some in the crumbling ruins of roofless houses. In Bakara market, the capital's war-torn economic heart, the signs of battle are fading slowly. "You don't even think that war has ever taken place here," Gure said. "Thanks to God, because people have the opportunity to rebuild." Bakara for many months was the epicentre of violence in one of the world's most dangerous capitals, forcing residents and businesses to flee. Despite an ongoing regional offensive with Ethiopian troops fighting in the west, AU troops in Mogadishu and Kenyan troops with the AU battling in the south, many Somalis are returning, bringing back capital earned abroad. "People are rebuilding their homes," government spokesman Abdurahman Omar Osman said. "The Somali diaspora are coming back to help ... businesses are reopening." Fighting erupted in Somalia in the late 1980s against Barre's dictatorship, escalating into a brutal civil war following a 1991 coup, with rival militias, warlords and Islamist fighters battling ever since for control of the lawless nation. Less than a year ago, troops and insurgents exchanged daily mortar fire along frontlines, before Shebab fighters abandoned fixed positions and quit the city. Now it is the construction industry that is busy. "We are not jobless these days, construction is booming," painter Adan Sharif said. "Every four or five weeks we are called for a new construction job." Reconstruction is expensive, but those who can are repairing their homes, plastering and painting over bullet-pocked walls, and blocking up holes punched into masonry by rocket-propelled grenades. "Most of the buildings in our neighbourhood were renovated in recent weeks and are looking good, the area is no longer looking like the aftermath of war," said Fadumo Moalim, a mother of eight living in the city's Wardhigley district. Abdulkadir Saleban, a grocer in Mogadishu's Maka Al-Mukarama road, said there was no way to claim compensation for property damage. "You cannot imagine how much money we have spent," he said as he watched builders repair his shop. Among the ruined buildings is a dramatic Catholic cathedral, built during Italian colonial days. Its stonework was used as target practice by Islamist fighters and now houses displaced people fleeing
fighting outside the city. Mogadishu's rebuilding has also sparked land speculation, with some fearful that reconstruction efforts may be wasted if the dark days of war return. "Buying land is very hard these days because of the rising prices, security is a major concern ... traders are also thinking about what could happen next, as the war does not seem to be over yet," said Abdukadir Bashir, a trader. Shebab fighters carry out guerrilla attacks including car bombs and mortar strikes. Analysts warn that the rebels, Somalia's most brutal, remain a serious threat to international efforts to stabilise the nation. "What you build today could be easily destroyed tomorrow," Bashir added. But the March reopening of Mogadishu's ruined national theatre was hailed as a symbolic step forward for the city, shortly after a suicide bomber killed six people there, narrowly missing the prime minister. As land prices increase and repairs are made, the cost of living rises too, a problem for many in this grossly impoverished city. Many borrow money to pay for renovations, then pay off the loans by renting out rooms to those returning to Mogadishu. "Houses have become very, very expensive -- a room that used to cost $10 (a month) to rent ... today, you will not get a room like that for $40," estate agent Mohamed Abdullahi said. "God willing, I hope people return and rebuild the country."
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News Headline: 30 African Nations Finalize Planning for Africa Endeavor 12 | News Date: 05/06/2012 Outlet Full Name: U.S. AFRICOM News Text: By Major Paula Kurtz ACCRA — Participants from more than 30 African nations met with their Western counterparts from the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands this week in Accra, Ghana, to finalize planning for Exercise Africa Endeavor 2012. The final planning conference kicked off April 30, 2012 with opening ceremonies followed by a press conference with Ghanian media representatives. Colonel Andrew Kostic, U.S. Africa Command deputy director for Joint Training and Exercises, welcomed more than 150 participants and outlined the goal of this year's exercise. "Africa Endeavor participants have made great strides in achieving human and technical communications interoperability over the last five years. Building on our previous success, advancing our procedural interoperability is the next step and our goal for Africa Endeavor 2012," Kostic said. Exercise Africa Endeavor is primarily a communications and interoperability exercise that began in 2006. It has been hosted in South Africa, Nigeria, Gabon, Ghana, and The Gambia. This year, it will be held in Cameroon in mid-June. Over the years, as the capabilities and capacities of participating nations have increased, the exercise has continued to grow in scope. This year's 10-day exercise will consist of two to three days of training, followed by two days of network testing, and finally four days of a scenario-driven command post exercise. During the command post portion, participating nations will organize regionally
and will staff a notional Standby Force at the Brigade and Battalion levels. "Over the course of three planning conferences this year, each African delegation has collectively determined who would instruct the courses that will be taught at the exercise," explained Commander Bryan McRoberts, U.S. Africa Command's exercise director. "They've prepared the material, and then the African instructors will provide that course of instruction to the attendees at the exercise in June. During network testing, we will establish all of the communication networks -- voice and data -- to support the exercise, and we will conduct interoperability testing to validate the communications between each node that will participate. That will help determine what the appropriate configurations are for all of the equipment, which will be documented and then provided to all the exercise participants to support future planning efforts in support of future operations." The final planning conference was hosted by the Ghana Armed Forces and held at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center. The Center's Commandant, Air Vice Marshal Christian Dovlo, shared some thoughts with participants during the opening ceremonies. "We very unfortunately live on a continent which...still continues to have so much instability and armed conflict that we cannot afford not to train and be ready to implement the collective decisions of our REGs, the African Union and the United Nations in their quest to neutralize, minimize, and solve the conflicts, using agreed mechanisms and which require muti-national armed intervention. Current events unfolding in Mali and Guinea Bissau and the decisions taken by [the Economic Community of West African States] heads of state clearly reinforces this important point." In addition to hosting this year's Final Planning Conference, Ghana hosted the exercise in 2010 and has participated in it every year since its inception in 2006. "The aim of Africa Endeavor is to assist African militaries to develop workable concepts in terms of communications, command/control, what have you," explained Brigadier General Joseph Kwankye, director general, Communications and Information Systems Department, Ghana Armed Forces. "Apart from building the capacity of our soldiers...we've also got to know a lot about police of other countries -the way they operate, what type of equipment they use, and the concepts they also have. We all remember what happened when ECOWAS first deployed in Liberia, and the challenges we faced. Most of these challenges we faced have been solved during the course of our participation in these exercises and conferences...so let me say, it has been very useful and beneficial to Ghana."
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News Headline: UN News Service-Africa Briefs | News Date: 05/06/2012 Outlet Full Name: UN News Centre News Text: UN voices concern over recent prison breaks in Côte d'Ivoire 5 May – The United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) today voiced concern over the high number of mass prison breaks that have occurred in the West African country this year, and reiterated its commitment to work with the Government to address this issue. Convening of elders important step on path to ending Somalia's transition – UN envoy 4 May – The top United Nations envoy in Somalia has welcomed the inaugural convening of the body tasked with selecting members of the Constituent Assembly and new Parliament as an important step on the road to ending the country's transition. Danish national appointed to lead UN peacebuilding efforts in Sierra Leone 4 May – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen of Denmark to spearhead United Nations efforts to assist Sierra Leone in consolidating its hard-won peace.
UN refugee agency providing aid to people fleeing fighting in eastern DR Congo 4 May – The UN refugee agency is helping more than 20,000 people who have fled fighting between government forces and renegade troops in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in recent days and found shelter in areas near Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. UN expert urges Algeria to ensure adequate new laws on freedom of association 4 May – An independent United Nations expert today urged the Algerian authorities to make the most of the opportunity offered by legislative elections next week, to ensure that the new regulations for civil society organizations, adopted at the end of last year, adequately meet the requirements of international human rights law.
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