Africa
west africa

West Africa jihadist insurgency reaches Togo

At least eight Togolese soldiers were killed in an assault on a military base in the north of the West African country—marking the first fatal attack in Togo by the jihadist rebel militias waging an insurgency across the wider region. Some 60 gunmen on motorcycles attacked the base at Kpinkankandi, near the border with Burkina Faso. According to locals, the battle over the base raged most of the night before the assailants retreated. No group has claimed responsibility for the raid, but suspicion has fallen on the Group for Support of Islam & Muslims (JNIM), a Qaeda-aligned faction active in Burkina Faso. (Map: World Sites Atlas)

Africa
Mali

Russian mercenaries accused in Mali massacre

Malian armed forces and associated foreign soldiers are believed to have summarily executed an estimated 300 civilian men in a town they occupied in late March, Human Rights Watch says in a new report, calling it “worst single atrocity reported in Mali’s decade-long armed conflict.” The men were detained at a marketplace in the central town of Moura, Mopti region, during a military raid. Army troops and foreign soldiers—identified by several sources as Russians—are said by witnesses and survivors to have broken the detainees up into small groups and marched them to an area outside town before putting them to death. The Malian regime is battling an insurgency by jihadist militants linked to ISIS and al-Qaeda with the help of private military contractors from Russia’s Wagner Group. (Map: PCL)

Africa
Senegal

Senegal: new offensive against Casamance rebels

Senegal’s military has launched a new offensive against a faction of the separatist Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC). The operation follows the death of four soldiers and the capture of seven others in fighting with the MFDC faction led by Salif Sadio, which has remained in arms in defiance of a 2014 ceasefire. A military statement said the offensive aims to “destroy all armed gangs conducting criminal activities” and “preserve the integrity of the national territory at all costs.” Casamance—the narrow southern strip of Senegalese territory sandwiched between Gambia to the north and Guinea-Bissau to the south—has seen a pro-independence insurgency since 1982, making it Africa’s longest-running conflict. Tens of thousands have been displaced, the rural economy is devastated, and large stretches of territory have become no-go zones due to landmines. (Map: PCL Map Collection)

Planet Watch
nuclear power

Podcast: Nuclear power? No thanks!

In Episode 110 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg rants against the current greenwashing of nuclear power, and hype about a supposedly “safe” new generation of reactors. Every stage of the nuclear cycle is ecocidal and genocidal. Uranium mining has poisoned the lands of indigenous peoples from Navajo Country to Saskatchewan to West Africa. The ongoing functioning of nuclear plants entails routine emissions of radioactive gases, factored in by the bureaucrats in determining “acceptable” levels of cancer. Disposal of the waste, and the retired reactor sites themselves, is a problem that inherently defies solution. They will be deadly for exponentially longer into the future than biblical times stretch into the past. The Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in New Mexico, hyped as secure for hundreds of millennia, leaked plutonium after only 13 years. And finally there is the “sexiest” issue, the one that actually gets some media play, at least—the risk of accident. It is a mark of capitalism’s depravity that even after the nightmares of Fukushima and Chernobyl, we periodically get media campaigns about an imminent “nuclear renaissance.” Nuclear versus fossil fuels is the false choice offered us by industry. The imperative is to get off the extraction economy and on to one based on sustainability and resource conservation. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Africa
Apiate

Mining disaster wipes out community in Ghana

A rural community in Ghana’s Western Region was virtually flattened when a truck carrying explosives to a gold mine collided with a motorcycle, setting off a massive blast. Some 40 have been hospitalized, and the official death toll of 17 is expected to rise. The truck, owned by a local mining services company called Maxam, was en route to the Chirano gold mine, operated by Toronto-based Kinross Gold. The explosion left a huge crater and reduced dozens of buildings to dust-covered piles of wood and metal in the community of Apiate, near the city of Bogoso, some 300 kilometers west of the capital Accra. The chief executive of Prestea Huni-Valley municipality told local media “the whole community is gone” after the blast. (Photo: Prestea Huni-Valley Municipal Assembly via Mining.com)

Africa
Gambia

Gambia Truth Commission calls for prosecutions

The Truth, Reconciliation & Reparations Commission (TRRC) of Gambia delivered its report to President Adama Barrow. The report, while not indicting any specific individual, recommends prosecutions for anyone who was associated with atrocities committed during the 22-year presidency of Yahya Jammeh. Based on nearly three years of inquiry and testimony from some 400 witnesses, the report details systemic crimes including widespread incidents of rape, killing, and torture. Officials of the National Investigative Agency and Jammeh’s alleged personal hit squad known as “Junglas” were the main focus of the inquiry. At least 250 people were confirmed to have been killed by the state under Jammeh’s rule. (Map: CIA)

Africa
jihadis

Russian mercenaries to Mali?

France, now in the process of drawing down its military presence in West Africa’s Sahel nations, criticized plans that could see Russian mercenaries brought to Mali, where jihadist groups tied to ISIS or al-Qaeda operate in large parts of the country. Reports suggest that Mali’s transitional government is considering a deal with the Wagner Group, which has close links to Vladimir Putin and is also active in Central African Republic. The Coordinating Body of Azawad Movements (CMA), a coalition of Tuareg rebel groups that signed a peace deal with the Malian government in 2015, likewise expressed its “firm opposition” to any agreement to bring in the Wagner Group. (Photo: FIDES)

Africa
Sahel

Mounting massacres across Africa’s Sahel nations

The tri-border region where the Sahel countries of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso come together is the scene of fast-mounting massacres by presumed Islamist militants. Attacks on civilians and security forces alike have left hundreds dead this month. In Niger, peasants were gunned down while working their fields in Banibangou village—an attack attributed to a local ISIS franchise. In Mali, ongoing deadly attacks have caused a massive population exodus in several regions of the country, including Menaka, Mopti, Gao, Timbuktu and Sikasso. “Violence is spreading so rapidly across Mali that it threatens the very survival of the state,” said UN human rights expert Alioune Tine after a visit to the country. (Map: Wikivoyage)

Africa
Nigeria

Sectarian massacre in Nigeria’s Plateau state

Nigerian authorities imposed a curfew in Jos, capital of north-central Plateau state, after at least 20 Muslim travelers passing through the city were massacred by a presumed Christian militia. The Muslims, mostly of the Fulani ethnicity, were in a convoy of vehicles, returning to their homes in Ondo and Ekiti states from a celebration in neighboring Bauchi state marking the start of Muharram, the Islamic new year. In Jos, the convoy was caught in a traffic jam, and the vehicles set upon by militiamen, the occupants slain with machetes, daggers and other weapons. The assailants were apparently Christians of the Irigwe ethnicity. Northern and central Nigeria have for years seen growing violence between Muslim semi-nomadic herders and Christian farmers over control of land and water. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Africa
iswap

ISIS franchise takes insurgency to Cameroon

The under-reported conflict in Cameroon’s Far North Region is heating up, as an ISIS franchise has usurped leadership of the local Boko Haram insurgency. Five soldiers and a civilian were killed this week in a raid on an army post near the Nigerian border. The heavily-armed insurgents are believed to be from the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP). The group has “regained strength following internal restructuring,” according to the Cameroonian defense ministry—a reference to the death in May of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, and the absorption of his forces by ISWAP. (Photo: ISS Africa)

Africa
Sahel

France announces Sahel drawdown

France is to reduce its forces battling jihadists in the Sahel—a seven-year deployment that has failed to stem the violence, and which has proved increasingly unpopular both in the region and domestically. President Emmanuel Macron said there would be a “profound transformation” of its Operation Barkhane, with France relying more on special forces, air power, and cooperation with allies. France has suffered a recent setback in the Sahel with the death of its close ally, Chadian leader Idriss Déby, and an increasingly complicated relationship with Mali—the focus of Barkhane’s 5,100-strong intervention. Earlier this month, Paris suspended joint military operations with Malian forces after a second coup. Macron has also refused to support moves by some Sahelian countries to open negotiations with jihadists, and has suggested that African partners have not pulled their weight in the counter-insurgency fight—a conflict widely seen as militarily unwinnable. (Map: Wikivoyage)

North Africa
Haftar

Libya: Blackwater CEO trafficked arms to Russia-backed warlord

Erik Prince, former CEO of the notorious private military company Blackwater, violated the UN arms embargo on Libya with a clandestine pipeline to a rebel warlord, according to a confidential report to the Security Council obtained by the New York Times. The report found that in 2019 Prince deployed a force of foreign mercenaries and weapons to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, who has been fighting to depose the UN-recognized Libyan government—and is also being aggressively backed by Russia. (Photo via ISS Africa)