Category Archives: Security

Côte d’Ivoire joined counterterrorist operation

Soldiers from Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso conducted their first joint operation against jihadists insurgency near their shared border, neutralising eight suspected militants and arresting 14 others, Ivorian army said on May 24.

Burkina Faso and its neighbours Mali and Niger in West Africa’s vast Sahel zone are conducting operaions against Islamist insurgencies with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State, claiming to re-consturct the historic Caliphe of Sokoto.

Those terrorist groups have been strengthening and expanding their range of operations, leaving coastal countries like Cote d’Ivoire at risk of violence and unrest breaking into their territories.

The joint operation was launched on May 11 with about 1,000 Ivorian soldiers participating from their side of the 580-kilometre border with Burkina Faso, Ivorian army announced in a statement.

The suspected militants were killed in Burkina Faso, the army confirmed, adding that the operation is ongoing.

Jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have escalated dramatically over the past year despite significant military support from France, which is engaged in partnerships with former colonies.

While Cote d’Ivoire has mostly been spared the violence affecting its neighbours, it was the victim in 2016 of an attack claimed by al Qaeda in which gunmen killed 19 people at a beach resort.
Image: illustration

Al-Shabaab claims governor assassination

Somalia Mudug region governor was killed with three of his bodyguards in a suicide car bombing on May 17. The explostion was claimed by Islamist group al Shabaab, police said.

“A suicide car bomb hit the governor’s car. Governor Ahmed Muse Nur and three of his bodyguards died,” police captain Mohamed Osman told Reuters.

Al Shabaab has been fighting for years to topple Somalia’s western-backed central government and frequently carries out bombings in Somalia and elsewhere in the region. The group wants to establish its own rule in the Horn of Africa country, based on its own strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.

“We are behind the explosion. It was a suicide car bomb. We killed Mudug region governor and his three bodyguards,” al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab told media.

The same day the armed group posted a statement on a pro-Shabab website that said: “The governor of the apostate administration in the Mudug region was killed in a martyrdom operation in Galkayo today.”

Galkayo lies about 600km (375 miles) north of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.

Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda affiliate, pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011 and lost most of its strongholds, but still controls vast swathes of the countryside.

Italian hostage returned from Kenya

Liberated Italian hostage Silvia Romano landed at Rome’s Ciampino airport aboard a special flight at about 2 p.m. (1200 GMT).

Escorted by masked men from the intelligence service, young woman temporarily removed her protective mask to wave while she descended the steps from the jet before hugging family members waiting for her at the airport. “I am literally bursting with joy at this moment. But it is hard even only to think, please let me breathe. I need to withstand the shock, happiness is so big that it is exploding,” Silvia’s father Enzo was quoted as saying by several Italian media.

NGO volonteer was greeted by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the chief of Italian diplomacy Luigi Di Maio.

A group of armed men abdicted Romano, who was working for an Italian charity called Africa Milele, in northern Kenya in November 2018.

After extensive international search operations led by Italian intelligence, she was traced in Somalia, some 30 km (19 miles) outside the capital of Mogadishu, and was released due to efforts by the intelligence service, Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio underlined.

In her home neighbourhood in Milan, church bells saluted her arrival, with many people on their balconies, SKY TG24 showed.

Romano is expected to meet prosecutors in Rome later on May 10 to participate in the investigatiion case of her abdiction.

“I was strong, and resisted,” Romano was quoted by Italian media as saying publically after her release.

Prime Minister Conte said that the task force working to free Romano had been in the final stages for the last months, after receiving proof that she was still alive. The head of the government added that details were not revealed to avoid compromise of the secret service operation.

We are so glad to welcome Silvia back in such a delicate moment for the country. The State is always there, and will always be there,” Conte said.

Prime Minister expressed gratitude for the efforts of the intelligence services, the judiciary and the defence and diplomacy, all involved in the release the Italian aid worker.

Italian newspapers reported that Italy’s intelligence services had launched a vast and complicated operation together with Somali and Turkish counterparts to free Romano.

Kenya: Italian hostage liberated

President of the European Parliament David Sassoli thanked all those, involved in an operation of liberation of an Italian hostage – an NGO volunteer Silvia Romano (25) kidnapped in Kenya one and a half year ago. On his Twitter accounted Sassoli wrote that he received the news with joy, and expressed gratitude to everyone who did not “give up” working on her liberation.

On May 9 Italian Prime Minister Conte announced the liberation of an NGO worker Silvia Romano in an international operation conducted by the Italian secret services.

Silvia Romano has been freed! I thank the women and men of our intelligence services. Silvia, we are waiting for you in Italy” he wrote on Twitter micro blog.

“I was strong and I resisted. I’m fine and I can’t wait to go back to Italy” these are the first words in pubblic of the young Milanese Silvia Romano after the liberation.

The operation was directed by General Luciano Carta from the Agenzia Informazioni e Sicurezza Esterna (External Intelligence and Security Agency), known as AISE with the collaboration of the Turkish and Somali services and took place last night.

The volunteer is now in safety in the compound of international forces in Mogadishu, Somalia. The return to Italy will take place tomorrow, at 2 pm at Ciampino airport, Rome, according to the media reports.

She is well and fit. Obviously tired by the existence of captivity but she is all right” said Raffaele Volpi president of Copasir (Parliamentary Committee that controls the operator of the secret services). “The compliments – he added – go to General Carta, to the men and women of the Aise who with their tireless work, never in the light of the limelight, have allowed this very important result. Thanks guys and welcome back home to Silvia”.

Immediately after her release, according to the Adnkronos news agency which cites intelligence sources, the young woman “had a long telephone conversation with her mother and with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte”.

On November 20, 2018, Silvia Romano, a volunteer for the NGO Africa Milele Onlus, devoted to children in fragile situation, mainly abandoned, had been kidnapped by a group of armed men in the village of Chakama, 80 kilometers from Malindi. A large scale manhunt was conducted, but without any success.

In December 2018, an information was obtained about her being alive and transported to Somalia, but since then her case was shrouded in silence.

The violence during the kidnapping – commented a police inspector in the capital Nairobi –looked more like a theatrical act. The kidnappers carried Silvia up to the almost entirely dry Athi Galana Sabaki river, which is quite close. They got across the river and got to the motorcycles they had left there. They could have acted by surprise, riding to Chakama, taking Silvia and leaving quickly. Instead they took a more complicated and difficult route where someone could have followed or recognized them. But they where able to get away.”

Three of her eight kidnappers were subsequently arrested in Kenya.

On the events of the kidnapping, however, everything remains to be established. According to the sources by the Rome prosecution she was held captive in Somalia by militia close to the Al-Shabaab jihadist group, the Somali organization affiliated to al-Qaeda, and was considered a “political hostage”.

Barkhane: EU reiterates support to Sahel

“… French contribution is making overarching contribution in the region” of Sahel said the EU spokesperson, while expressing condolences to families of two slain French soldiers in Mali recently in course of the counter-terrorist operation in the region of three borders.

“We have seen in Sahel the continuous deteriorating in the situation with the terrorist attacks on the daily basis targeting both military and civilians” she continued.

The European Union member-states are heavily mobilised in the Sahel with the commitment of more than €4,5 bn for 2014-2020 period.

The EU reiterates its strong commitment to the Sahel, and personally the High Representative Josep Borrell who has paid tribute to fallen soldiers defeating terrorism in Sahel. The EU continues to pursue contributing to the Security and Stability of the Sahel region, plagued by different militant groups, claiming their affiliation to the Islamic State terrorists.

Slain soldier Kevin Clément belonged to the 1st foreign cavalry regiment of Carpiagne (Bouches-du-Rhône). His death in Liptako on April 4 rises to 43 the number of French soldiers killed in the Sahel since the start of the operation in 2013, according to a count made from figures published by the general staff.

Barkhane: French soldier killed in Mali

French soldier Kévin Clément, 21, belonged to the 1st foreign regiment of cavalry of Carpiagne (Bouches-du-Rhône) engaged in Sahel since February within the Barkhane force, died in combat in Liptako, Mali, in the morning on May 4, during a “sweeping action against armed terrorist groups” in the area known as “three borders“.

The press release from the CEMA services specifies that two jihadists were “neutralised“, but that the first class legionnaire Kévin Clément, boarded in a light armored vehicle, was seriously wounded by enemy fire.

His death was declared later at the surgical unit in Gao, Mali, despite immediate care by the medical team of his unit. AFP reported he succumbed to the head injury.

During this combat operation, 1st class Kévin Clément, boarded in a light armored vehicle, was seriously injured by enemy fire. Immediately taken in charge by the medical team deployed within the unit, he was evacuated by helicopter towards the surgical unit in Gao, where his death was announced in the official press release.

A Reaper drone was immediately engaged to contribute to securing the unit, and revealed that the tactical sub-group had been engaged in a combat encounter with isolated terrorist elements.

In a press release, Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces, underlined that “the legionnaire Clément joins in the ultimate sacrifice his comrade Brigadier Dmytro Martynyouk, who died on May 1. This heavy tribute paid by the Foreign Legion does not undermine its determination or its effectiveness… ”

The Ministry of the Armed Forces, and in particular the Army, are alongside the family of 1st class legionnaire Kévin Clément and all the soldiers of Operation Barkhane” added the official press release.

The Minister of the Armed Forces bowed to the engagement of the 1st class legionnaire Kévin Clément who served France until the end of his mission,” With honor and loyalty “as the motto of the Foreign Legion so aptly puts it” wrote Florence Parly. “France never forgets any of those who chose it and fought for her,” said the ministerial press release.

In recent weeks, the French army has multiplied the offensives in this region of the Sahel, claiming the “neutralization” of several dozen jihadists in total since the beginning of the year. Barkhane’s workforce has recently increased from 4,500 to 5,100 soldiers. Paris hopes that this reinforcement will make it possible to reverse the balance of forces on the ground, where jihadist groups have multiplied the attacks in recent months.

Mozambique neutralised over 100 Islamists

Mozambique security forces killed at least 129 insurgents in the northern region Cabo Delgado that has been plagued by violence for at least the last three years, the interior minister said on April 28.

Since 2017, infrequent but violent raids on government buildings and villages by armed groups with suspected links to the Islamic State (ISIS) have intensified in northernmost province of one Africa’s poorest nations.

The interior ministry said the 129 killings were the total for the month, and were a retaliation for an attack in Xitaxi in Muidumbe district earlier in April, where insurgents killed 52 villagers.

The insurgents profile reamins obscure, though initial attacks were claimed by a group known as Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama. More recently, Islamic State (IS) has claimed a number of attacks.

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