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‘Terrorist’ attack in Burkina Faso leaves 15 dead1 min read

More than 1,000 people have fled their homes because of the unrest in the region

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'Terrorist' attack in Burkina Faso leaves 15 dead
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Two attacks by “armed terrorists” on villages in northern Burkina Faso left 15 people dead, the country’s Defence Minister Cheriff Sy said Monday.

The gunmen attacked the villages of Sagho and Toekodogo, in the Barsalogho district, on Saturday, Sy said in a statement, describing them as members of “armed terrorist groups”.

Related: Burkina Faso church murder continues as gunmen kill four

“These attacks unfortunately caused the death of 15 people, 13 of them in Sagho and two in Toekodogo,” he said. The attackers also set fire to three shops and around 10 motorcycles.

Once alerted, soldiers and members of the security forces were deployed who put the assailants to flight, Sy added.

Burkina Faso has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a number of jihadist groups, including the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

More than 1,000 people have fled their homes because of the unrest in the region, finding refuge in the capital Ouagadougou, in the centre of the country.

Related: Christians seek refuge after deadly attacks in Burkina Faso

The north of the country, near the borders with Mali and Niger, has been particularly hard hit. The raids began in 2015 in the north before spreading to Ouagadougou and other regions, notably in the east.

The attacks have killed more than 460 people, according to a tally.

Inter-communal violence, often aggravated by the jihadist violence, has added to the insecurity.

Related: Murder on altar: Six killed in Burkina Faso Catholic Church attack

Last Tuesday, a jihadist attack in Belehede, in the northern province of Soum, claimed 17 lives.

In May, Burkina Faso’s armed forces launched a major operation in the Sahel region in the north and centre-north of the country to try to crack down on the jihadist threat.

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Mozambique’s Renamo lose bid to annul election

The Constitutional Court rejected the application on grounds Renamo “did not submit enough evidence to sustain it’s complaint”.

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Mozambique’s largest opposition party Renamo has lost its bid to annul last month’s election results after the country’s top court threw out its challenge, according to a court judgement seen Friday.

Renamo, the rebel group turned opposition party, lodged an application after it lost the October 15 election to the long-ruling Frelimo party.

It accused the government of “massive electoral fraud” and of using violence and intimidation on voting day in a breach of a peace deal between the two parties who once fought a civil war.

But the Constitutional Court, in a judgement dated November 11 but seen on its website on Friday, rejected the application on grounds that the party “did not submit enough evidence to sustain its complaint”.

Last week the European Union cast doubt on the credibility of the ruling party’s victory, saying its observers detected a litany of “irregularities and malpractices” and called on authorities to clarify them.

Mozambican civil society and international observers had already flagged numerous alleged attempts to stuff ballot boxes and chase away election monitors, as well as hundreds of thousands of so-called “ghost voters” on the electoral roll.

Incumbent President Filipe Nyusi won a new five-year term after his Frelimo party secured 73 per cent of the votes cast.

The election posed a major challenge to the country’s already fragile peace agreement between Frelimo and Renamo who fought a civil war from 1975-1992 that left one million dead.

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Two years after coup, Zimbabwe still not out of economic struggles

Unemployment today is over 90 per cent while the size of the economy has more than halved since 2000

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Two years ago, Linos Mutepera was among hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans who celebrated the toppling of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe with tears of joy.

Today, he looks back at that time with bitterness, his hope of a better life dashed.

“We were all there – the young, the old, the rich, the poor, blacks, whites and mixed-race – waving the Zimbabwean flag, holding banners, hoisting placards, singing, dancing, praying together, holding each other’s arms and hugging,” he reminisced.

“We thought it was an end at last of an era that had been marked by poverty, joblessness, shortages, army and police brutality,” the 33-year-old unemployed engineering graduate told AFP.

“How wrong we were.”

Mutepera, sitting beside a friend hawking clothes at a Harare flea market, pointed bleakly to the promises made by Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to rebuild Zimbabwe’s shattered economy.

“We were used,” he said. “I feel so let down, so betrayed. But at least I am wiser.”

Mugabe came to power in 1980, surfing on his reputation as the guerrilla leader who had steered colonial-era Rhodesia to independence, ending white-minority rule.

By November 2018, the smell of corruption and cronyism that infected his regime prompted the military to take over – a coup code-named Operation Restore Legacy.

‘Square One’

He was replaced as president by Mnangagwa, his former deputy, whom he had fired weeks earlier. The military supremo and face of the coup, General Constantino Chiwenga, became one of his deputies. 

The following July, Mnangagwa won disputed elections on pledges to lure foreign investment, create jobs and turn the country into a middle-income economy by 2030.

But Zimbabwe’s nightmares returned within months, as shoppers battled daily shortages of basics such as fuel, cooking oil, sugar and bread.

Unemployment today is over 90 per cent while the size of the economy has more than halved since 2000, when Mugabe’s seizure of white-owned farms crippled Zimbabwean agriculture.

Inflation runs into triple digits, electricity is available for just six hours a day and in many urban areas, the taps are dry.

“Things have basically got worse,” Professor Tony Hawkins of the University of Zimbabwe’s School of Economics told AFP. 

“People are getting poorer and thousands are losing jobs,” he said.

“The economy has got worse and politically, nothing has changed except that the military are much more visible and much more powerful.

“Basically, it’s back to square one, with a change of driver but the same bus or taxi.”

‘Mirage’

Alex Magaisa, a lecturer at the University of Kent in England, said Mnangagwa’s promise of a new dawn had become “nothing more than a mirage.”

A spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Daniel Molokele, said Zimbabweans had mistakenly believed Mugabe’s removal would end the country’s woes.

“The euphoria that we saw in 2017 was not for the ascendancy of Mnangagwa but for the fall of Mugabe — and people also thought it meant the fall of the entire system created by Mugabe,” he said.

“Two years later there is hopelessness, there is despondency, there is disappointment.

“People would rather go back to 2017 not because Mugabe was better but because people are much more poorer. There is more corruption with cartels running sections of the economy. It’s a classic case of jumping from the frying pan into a fire.”

Molokele suggested a dialogue involving Zimbabweans “from all walks of life… so that the people can determine the Zimbabwe they want.”

Public fury at the state of the economy was an important factor in Mugabe’s downfall.

That anger flared anew in January, when Mnangagwa more than doubled fuel prices, sparking protests that left at least 17 people dead and scores of injured.

Harare-based political analyst Alexander Rusero told AFP the November 2018 takeover had “never been for the good of the people.

“It’s all about the political elite in (the ruling) ZANU-PF (party) and the preservation of their wealth,” he said.

“The moment you have soldiers closing the barracks and joining politics, nothing good comes out of it.”

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UN Report accuses Kenyan military of attacks in Somalia

The panel, which monitors sanctions on Somalia, said it received reports of KDF attacks on 12 towers operated by Hormuud Telecom

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UN Report accuses Kenyan military of attacks in Somalia

A new report by United Nations special investigators says Kenya’s military was responsible for five attacks on telecommunications masts in neighbouring Somalia, including strikes that killed two civilians.

The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) attacked communications towers in Somalia between 2017 and 2019, in a possible effort to stop Al-Shabaab using mobile signals to detonate bombs, an expert panel reported in its latest update to the UN Security Council on Monday.

The panel, which monitors sanctions on Somalia, said it received reports of KDF attacks on 12 towers operated by Hormuud Telecom, a Mogadishu-based provider, since 2017, almost all in Gedo along Kenya’s northernmost border with Somalia.

“The Panel has been able to independently corroborate five of those attacks… which resulted in the deaths of two civilians,” the UN sanctions committee said. 

A security guard and his relative died in July 2018 in an alleged KDF shelling on a Hormuud station, the report added.

The KDF denied any involvement in the attacks during a meeting with the UN experts, the report noted.

The report did not give details of how all of the attacks were carried out, although it referred to shelling in one incident and to at least one air strike.

Hormuud Telecom has alleged at least 12 attacks. In August, it said that one assault had not only destroyed a mast but also two power generators, batteries and a building.

The findings come at a time of strained relations between Kenya and Somalia. 

The neighbours are sparring on several diplomatic fronts, including a battle over contested marine borders with possibly lucrative Indian Ocean oil and gas reserves at stake.

Kenya sent troops into southern Somalia in 2011, joining the regional peacekeeping force AMISOM that drove Al-Shabaab from Mogadishu. 

It has justified the incursion to protect Kenyans from the Al-Qaeda affiliate which, among other assaults, killed 21 people in Nairobi in January. 

It was also suspected of a roadside bombing in October that killed 11 Kenyan police officers near the Somali border.

In its report, the UN panel recorded “an unprecedented number” of cross-border attacks into Kenya by the Islamist militants in June and July this year. These were possibly timed to worsen relations between the East African neighbours, it said.

For the first time, investigators also found proof Al-Shabaab had been making homemade bombs since at least July 2017, no longer relying on explosives leftover from Somalia’s devastating civil war.

The UN report acknowledged that KDF attacks on telecommunications equipment may “prevent Al-Shabaab from triggering improvised explosive devices” using mobile networks. 

It also noted KDF complaints that its communications towers had also been attacked since 2015, largely by Al-Shabaab.

“However, there are humanitarian implications to the long-term loss of telecommunications coverage within Somalia, including impeding the coordination of relief efforts, the transfer of food vouchers and the receipt of remittances from outside the country,” it said.

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