Al-Qaeda warlord in north Africa, Abdelmalek Droukdel, is pronounced dead by French authorites after an operation in Mali.
Defence Minister Florence Parly said Droukdel along with members of his inner circle were neutralised in the north of the country on June 3.
French forces had also captured a senior Islamic State group commander in Mali in anther operation in May, she said.
The Minister described actions as “daring operations” had dealt “severe blows to the terrorist groups”.
Droukdel was in charge of all the al-Qaeda affiliates in north Africa and also commanded al-Qaeda’s Sahel affiliate, Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), which has been active in the north of Mali and Burkina Faso.
The captured Islamic State group commander, Mohamed Mrabat, was a jihadist was a long recored and had a senior role in the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) group, she said.
ISGS has been active in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
Islamic State fighters claim three attacks targeting Libyan National Army forces in the vicinity of Sabah, announcing it a part of “Battle of Attrition” military campaign. According to the Intelligence group SITE this claim is a first one since June 2019, adding that Sabha area is a past “hot spot” of Islamic State jihad operations.
Attrition warfare represents an attempt to grind down an opponent and its superior numbers, however when attritional methods have worn down the enemy sufficiently to make other methods feasible, attritional actions are abandoned in favor of other strategies.
The inhabitants of Sabah have rejected the authority of the expired mandate Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and allied with Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar.
The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell participated in the EU-G5 Sahel videoconference.
The videoconference provided an opportunity to reaffirm the EU’s support to the region, including in facing the coronavirus pandemic and its impact. On this occasion, the European Commission announced an additional € 194 million to support the security, stability and resilience in the Sahel.
The new financial commitments announced today are composed of €112 million to help strengthen the security and defence capabilities of the G5 Sahel countries, while ensuring respect for human rights and international humanitarian law as well as re-establishing the presence of the State and basic services throughout the territory. The remaining €82 million will be mobilised to intensify development efforts and help improving living conditions, resilience and social cohesion of vulnerable populations.
“The situation in the Sahel keeps deteriorating and the coronavirus pandemic cannot make us forget how serious the situation is in a region whose challenges are our challenges as well. The Sahel must remain on top of the international agenda. Our meeting today showed a clear commitment by all to accelerate joint efforts. I want to underline the important initiatives taken by the G5 Sahel countries themselves, the engagement of ECOWAS and the coordination role of the African Union. I am pleased to see the support from the African Union, including with the upcoming adoption of a stabilisation strategy for the region and the operationalisation of the African Peace and Security Architecture,” High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, underlined.
“The European Union, in the same way as the United Nations and the African Union, has welcomed the call from the G5 Sahel on 27 April to the international community to help them face the consequences of the pandemic in an already very fragile region. Hence, the EU, as Team Europe, stands in full solidarity with the G5 Sahel, with € 449 million to be mobilised to help reduce health and socio-economic impacts of the coronavirus in the region. The EU welcomes the call on debt relief by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for most vulnerable countries that has helped secure the G20 moratorium of 15 April.As we discussed at the G5 Summit in Mauritania last February, there can be no security without development and vice versa” Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said.
Islamist militants have killed around 52 people in northern Mozambique Cabo Delgado province, police sourced confirmed.
The villagers in Cabo Delgado province were “massacred”, with some beheaded, after some people refused to be recruited into the militant group, police clarified.
Hundreds have been killed and thousands displaced during the three-year insurgency in Cabo Delgado.
A militant group calling itself al-Shabab operates in the area and last month briefly seized control of the town of Mocimboa de Praia.
It is unclear whether it is linked to the significantly larger Somali movement of the same name.
The attack took place in the village of Xitaxi in Muidumbe district on 7 April but came to light later.
“Recently, the criminals tried to recruit young people to join their ranks, but there was resistance on the part of the youths. This provoked the anger of the criminals, who indiscriminately killed – cruelly and diabolically – 52 young people,” police spokesman Orlando Mudumane told reporters.
Cabo Delgado is one of Mozambique’s poorest regions, but is rich in untapped mineral resources.
In 2010, Mozambique discovered huge gas reserves in Rovuma Basin, off the Indian Ocean coast of Cabo Delgado.
“There is speculation that the Mozambique authorities are now highlighting the 7 April incident in order to deflect attention from what is widely considered a propaganda coup for IS, which is actively seeking to build “franchise” operations in conflict zones across Africa” analyst Andrew Harding said.
Image: fishing net, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique
In Chad, 44 suspected members of the Islamist militants Boko Haram have been found dead following a recent arrest. Coroners said they suspect that the prisoners ingested a substance which causeed breathing complications, and heart failure.
A group of 44 suspected jjihadits were found dead in prison in Chad’s capital city of N’Djamena on apri 18, the AFP news agency reported, citing local police authorities.
The dead were among 58 militants who were arrested during a recent operation against the Boko Haram carried out near Lake Chad, the country’s chief prosecutor Yousssouf Tom said on national television.
”Following the fighting around Lake Chad, 58 members of Boko Haram had been taken prisoner and sent to Ndjamena for the purposes of the investigation,” he said.
”On Thursday morning, their jailers told us that 44 prisoners had been found dead in their cell,” Tom added.
A suicide bomber acts in Tunisian capital Tunis. The attack took place opposite the U.S. embassy.
12:50 AMENDED “The British Embassy in Tunis is urgently seeking further information following reports of a suicide bombing near the US Embassy #Tunis. If you’re in the area, remain vigilant and follow advice of local security authorities” the issued alert reads.
Pictures of aftermath of the suicide bombing circulate in socical media:
Media reports two dead and five injured, but at the moment it is not clear if the assailant’s death is also included.
13:30 AMENDED: “Emergency personnel are responding to an explosion that occurred near the U.S. Embassy in Tunis. Please avoid the area and monitor local media for updates” US Embassy in Tunis wrote on Twiter.
In a combat operation French soldiers neutralised more than 30 Islamist militants in Mali in three separate missions on February 6-7, targeting al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliated groups, France’s armed forces announed.
France, the former colonial power in a number of West African countries, has about 4,500 soldiers in Sahel region in its counter-terrorism taskforce Operation Barkhane. The United Nations has a 13,000-strong peacekeeping operation in Mali.
In the Gourma region, soldiers of the French Barkhane force killed about 20 militants and destroyed several vehicles, while in the Liptako region, a stronghold of Islamic State, 10 more were killed, the French troops officaial informed.
France hopes the United States will not diminish support for French military operations in West Africa, where jihadist groups affiliated with Islamic State and Al-Qaeda are increasing their activities.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made the appeal as Defence Minister Florence Parly was due to meet U.S. counterparts on January 27 to discuss the crisis in the Sahel.
Last year the Pentagon announced plans to withdraw hundreds of military personnel from Africa as it redirects resources to address challenges from China and Russia after two decades focused on counter-terrorism operations. Those changes are following an ongoing global troop review spearheaded by Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
The possibility has alarmed France, which relies on U.S. intelligence and logistics for its 4,500-strong troops in the Sahel.
“I hope they will be rational to keep this partnership … and that good sense will prevail,” le Drian told reporters.
The U.S. currently has 6,000 military personnel in Africa. Although some experts say a re-positioning of forces is overdue, many U.S. politicians and experts share French concerns about jihad spreading in Sahel region.
The French Defence minister Florence Parly (pictured) expected to arrive to the Sahel on Sunday January 19 with her counterparts from Estonia, Sweden and Portugal, the countries ready to support Barkhane’s trooops in the fight against jihadist armed groups.
“I am going to the Sahel on Sunday, I will be accompanied by the Swedish Minister for Defense, as well as by the Estonian Minister for Defense and finally the Portuguese Minister“, said Florence Parly on Europe 1.
“We will continue to support our Sahelian partners and, in addition, we are calling for internationalization, for partners to join us to help the countries of the Sahel to fight this fight,” she added.
Estonia has confirmed its participation in the future coalition of special forces (“Takuba”) which France has taken the initiative to support by 4,500 troops of Barkhane in the Sahel. Sweden and Portugal could also be present.
“We are not alone and there will certainly be more of us there when, in the summer, this Takuba force, which will be made up of European special forces, will be able to accompany the Malian armed forces,” said Florence Parly.
“Barkhane does not act alone. The last operation that we conducted recently, more than 50% of the forces that were involved in this operation were partner forces, Sahelian and European. ”
16.01.2020 Strasbourg The European Parliament adopted two resolutions on monitoring respect to the human rights and rule of law situation in Nigeria and Burundi.
Following the recent terrorist attacks in the country, the European Parliament strongly condemns the repeated violations of human rights and international and humanitarian law, ‘’whether based on religion or ethnicity’’. MEPs urge the Nigerian authorities to guarantee respect for human rights and to protect the civilian population from terrorism and violence. The fight against impunity is fundamental to the stability of the country and to building lasting peace, MEPs say.
The situation in Nigeria has significantly deteriorated over the last few years, posing a serious threat to international and regional security. Recent killings are part of a wider series of terrorist acts, including the attack on 24 December 2019 on a village near Chibok that resulted in the death of seven villagers and the kidnapping of a teenage girl.
The text was adopted by show of hands. For more details, the full resolution will be available here (16.01.2020).
MEPs strongly condemn the current restrictions on freedom of expression in Burundi, including the limitations placed on public freedom, large-scale violations of human rights, the intimidation and arbitrary arrests of journalists and broadcast bans. They recall that Burundi is bound by the human rights clause of the Cotonou agreement and therefore urge the country’s authorities to immediately revert this abusive trend and to uphold its human rights obligations.
Civil society and journalists play a vital role in a democratic society, MEPs say, particularly in the context of upcoming elections in Burundi. The European Parliament calls on the Burundian authorities to stop intimidating, harassing, and arbitrarily arresting journalists, human rights activists and members of the opposition, including those returning from exile.
Image above: MEP Assita KANKO, Strasbourg Plenary.