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“Terrorist” attack leaves 2 soldiers dead in Niger -Interior ministry1 minute read

“Following intense combat the enemy was pushed back,”

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2 soldiers die after terrorist attacks in Niger
A soldier stands at a damaged house. (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP)

Niger’s interior ministry have said Two soldiers were killed and five others wounded in a “terrorist” attack in southwest Niger., a region that until recently had been spared jihadist raids, the interior ministry said Monday.

“A detachment of the security and defense forces (FDS) clashed Sunday with heavily armed terrorists in a valley near Dogon Kiria,” the ministry statement said.

“Following intense combat the enemy was pushed back,” it said, leaving two soldiers dead and five wounded, while the “enemy” casualties were not yet known. 

It was the second such attack in the Dogondoutchi region which up to now had been spared raids by armed jihadist groups.

In February, two gendarmes and a civilian were killed in an attack by armed men at Bagaji, a village in the region.

Dogondoutchi is near Nigeria but several hundred kilometres from where the Boko Haram jihadists have carried out deadly incursions in the southeast Diffa region of Niger.

On the other hand, Dogondoutchi is near Niger’s Tahoua region where several areas bordering Mali are under a state of emergency from attacks. 

Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou has called on the West and the United Nations to come to the country’s aid.

But the presence of French, American and German forces in Niger as well as the UN troops in neighbouring Mali has been unable to curtail the attacks which have been increasing.

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Absa Kenya signs almost 5 million customers on virtual platform

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Kenya’s Absa Bank , a part of South Africa’s Absa Group, has signed almost 5 million customers on its virtual banking platform, which it sees as a major driver for future growth, chief executive, Jeremy Awori announced yesterday.

When the bank first launched its virtual savings and loan app known as “Timiza” — Kiswahili for “Achieve” — in March 2018, it attracted 300,000 customers. By the end of the year it had 3 million users, with lending standing at 10 billion Kenyan shillings ($98.91 million).

The bank, formerly known as Barclays Kenya, also has a separate mobile-based banking service to process normal customer transactions such as deposits and withdrawals.

Absa Kenya, posted a pretax profit of 8.18 billion shillings in the first nine months of 2019, compared with 7.72 billion shillings in year-earlier period.

Kenyan lenders have in recent years , turned to technology as they try to counter competition from mobile phone-based financial services such as from telecoms operator Safaricom’s M-Pesa platform, which had 23.6 million users as of last September.

Absa’s virtual banking app’s competitors include those run by KCB Group’s, NCBA Group and Equity Group.

Pressure to use mobile banking services increased further when the government imposed a cap on commercial lending rates in 2016 that ate into bank profit margins forcing banks to search for new ways to grow their businesses. The cap was scrapped at the end of last year.

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Angola’s Former Leader Ordered $500 million Funds transfer

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In a statement that may help the defense of one of his sons who is standing trial for money laundering, Angolan President, Jose Eduardo dos Santos has disclosed that he ordered a $500-million transfer from the central bank to an overseas account before stepping down.

The former president’s two most high-profile children are under increased scrutiny from prosecutors probing how they amassed their wealth during their father’s 38-year rule.

While the 77-year-old former leader is immune from prosecution until 2022, his daughter, Isabel was named last month as a suspect in an investigation over alleged mismanagement at state oil company, Sonangol.

In 2018, his son Jose Filomeno, alongside former central bank Governor, Filipe da Silva and two others, were accused of crimes including participation in unlawful business, money laundering, embezzlement and fraud for the money transfer to a U.K. account in 2017. Their trial began in December last year.

According to Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the transfer was needed to set up a strategic investment fund and finance Angola’s ailing economy.

Former head of Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund, Jose Filomeno says the trial is politically motivated while the country’s former central bank governor, Filipe da Silva has denied any wrongdoing, saying he was just following presidential orders.

It was meant to be the first of three transfers totaling $1.5 billion.

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Gunmen in military uniforms kill 22 in Cameroon, separatists blame army

A UN official said that 14 of the dead were children, some of whom were under five and that at least 600 people fled.

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Cameroon's army forces patrol on Febuary 16, 2015 near the village of Mabass, northern Cameroon. Cameroon's army announced on February 17, 2014 having killed 86 Boko Haram militants and detained 1,000 people suspected of links to the Islamist group, as central African leaders held talks on how to combat its bloody insurgency. Five Cameroonian soldiers were also killed during the clashes in the Waza region near the border with Nigeria, defence ministry spokesman said. AFP PHOTO REINNIER KAZE (Photo by Reinnier KAZE/AFP)

Armed men in military uniforms and masks have killed 22 people in a village at the heart of a separatist insurgency in western Cameroon, shooting women and children and burning others in their homes, the United Nations said on Monday.

Survivors “were extremely shocked and traumatized. People just left their houses and left everything behind,” said James Nunan, an official with the U.N. humanitarian coordination agency OCHA that conducted interviews with witnesses and survivors.

Nunan said that 14 of the dead were children, some of whom were under five. At least 600 people fled, he said.

It was not yet clear who was responsible for Friday’s attack in Ntumbo in the northwest region of Cameroon near the Nigerian border, a Reuters report said.

In a statement, separatists blamed the army. In its own the statement, the army denied wrongdoing.

Cameroonian refugees, including women and children gather for a meeting at Bashu-Okpambe village in Boki district of Cross Rivers State in Nigeria, on January 31, 2018. – Cameroonian forces have crossed into neighbouring Nigeria to conduct operations among citizens, where thousands of people have fled from Cameroon’s restive anglophone regions, local sources and state officials said January 31, 2018. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

The type of attack, with people being burned alive and shot, echoes other raids that witnesses told Reuters were committed by the military. The army has denied involvement in those raids.

The government said on Monday that its soldiers were on a reconnaissance mission in Ntumbo when they were attacked. The fighting that followed caused several fuel containers to explode and set nearby houses ablaze, it said, killing five civilians.

“In light of the methodically and professionally cross-checked information, it is simply an accident, collateral damage of the operations to restore security in the region,” the government said in a statement.

The separatists said at least 35 civilians were killed in what they called a “violation of the human rights of the Ambazonian people.”

Cameroon’s army has since 2017 been fighting English-speaking militias seeking to form a breakaway state called Ambazonia amid the cocoa farms and forests of west Cameroon. As fighting has intensified, so have abuses by both sides, witnesses and rights groups say.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 03, 2018, an armoured pick up of the Cameroonian Army patrols the market of the majority English-speaking South West province capital Buea, during a political rally of the ruling CPDM, Cameroon Pepole’s Democratic Movement of incumbent President Paul Biya. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI / AFP)

The fighting is the gravest threat to stability in the oil- and cocoa-producing country since President Paul Biya took power nearly 40 years ago.

Conflict between Cameroon’s army and English-speaking militias began after the government cracked down violently on peaceful protesters by lawyers and teachers in 2016 complaining of being marginalised by the French-speaking majority.

Violence spiked again in the run-up to parliamentary elections on Feb. 9, rights groups said, including the burning of houses.

Nearly 8,000 Cameroon refugees fled to eastern and southern Nigeria in the first two weeks of February, the United Nations refugee agency said, adding to the more than half a million people who have already left.

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