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US Forces Rescue American Kidnapped In Niger

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The United States’ SEAL Team 6 has rescued Philip Walton, 27, who was kidnapped earlier this week in Niger and held hostage in northern Nigeria.

Walton, who kept camels, sheep and poultry and grew mangoes near the border with Nigeria, was kidnapped on Tuesday by six men armed with AK-47 assault rifles who arrived on motorcycles at his home in southern Niger’s Massalata village early on Tuesday.

His wife, young daughter and brother were left behind.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman in a statement on Saturday said, “U.S. forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of 31 October in Northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen held hostage by a group of armed men.

“This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State. No U.S military personnel were injured during the operation.

“We appreciate the support of our international partners in conducting this operation. The United States will continue to protect our people and our interests anywhere in the world.”

The mission, which was several hours long, was conducted by the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 who were flown to the region by Air Force special operations, a US official with knowledge of the operation told CNN.

The US forces who conducted the mission killed six of the seven captors, the official said.

The US believes the captors have no known affiliation with any terror groups operating in the region and were more likely bandits seeking money.

Niger, like much of West Africa’s Sahel region, faces a deepening security crisis as groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State carry out attacks on the army and civilians, despite help from French and U.S. forces.

Four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger in 2017, sparking debate about the United States’ role in the sparsely populated West African desert that is home to some of the world’s poorest countries.

At least six foreign hostages are being held by Islamist insurgents in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Islamists have collected millions of dollars in ransom payments in recent years. The U.S. government has frequently criticized other countries for paying.

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African Finance Ministers To Discuss Payments System For AfCFTA

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A new payment system for intra-African trade is in the works.

The African Union (AU) says its Specialised Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration will discuss the launch of a payment system for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) from December 1st to the 3rd.

The AU explained that the meeting will hold before the planned deadline on the ratification of the agreement on December 5.

The AfCFTA is one of the biggest free-trade agreements in the world right now, with a potential market of 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion

The Federal Government announced that it has ratified Nigeria’s membership of the AfCFTA ahead of the December 5, 2020 deadline. The agreement goes into effect from the 1st of January 2021.

Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCFTA, Francis Anatogu, said that the agreement would reduce the erosion of Nigeria’s currency.

The naira has suffered nearly 90% devaluation since 2016, through exports of Nigerian-made goods and services, and its exposure to other currencies.

AU’s Continental Payment System, when completed, would help to ease payment integration in AfCFTA countries. The theme of the meeting will be “Securing Africa’s Taxing Rights, Stemming Illicit Financial Flows and developing payment system for AfCFTA”.

The AU disclosed that it would be a major step towards the Agenda 2063 for Africa. The continental body also added that the meeting will discuss implementations of “Aspiration1”, which aims for continental inclusive growth and development.

They will also discuss how to prevent illegal capital flight and tax challenges surrounding the agreement due to the rising African Digital Economy.

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South Sudan Launches Fresh Attack on SPLA-IO Base

South Sudan’s army has on Thursday launched a fresh attack against forces of the main armed opposition group and peace partner, SPLA-IO

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SOUTH SUDAN FRESH ATTACKS

South Sudan’s army on Thursday launched a fresh attack against forces of the main armed opposition group and peace partner, SPLA-IO at the Morota Unified Training centre. 

The deputy spokesman of the SPLA-IO in Juba, Colonel Lam Paul Gabriel said the attack was ordered by General Moses Lokujo who defected from the group to join the SSPDF in September.

According to Colonel Gabriel “this morning November 26, at about 6:00am, the defected force of Maj. Gen. Moses Lokujo who is now under the command and control of the SSPDF attacked the SPLA-IO component of protection force for Morota Unified Training Centre, in complete violation of the permanent ceasefire.”  

The statement also confirmed the death of one SPLA-IO soldier and two others injured as the fighting continues.

Last week, the ceasefire monitoring body, CTSSAM-VM identified General Lokujo as being responsible for the recent displacement of civilians around Kajo-Keji area. He was also accused of blocking access to a military training camp.

The revitalized peace deal expects all the parties to desist from actions that may obstruct or delay the provision of humanitarian assistance, protection of civilians, or restrict the free movement of people.

The armed opposition group further urged the SSPDF to cease attacks against it while urging that security mechanisms established under the revived peace agreement be implemented to halt the attacks.

He called on the SSPDF command to restrain Maj. Gen. Lokujo from incessant attacks against the SPLA-IO.

“It should also be noted that the forces in Morota Training Centre are not only SPLA-IO forces but a component of the unified forces under the command and control of the JTSC and JDB. Therefore, attacking this force is not only a violation but a direct attack against the Security Arrangement in particular and the R-ARCSS in general.”

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Over 40 People Trapped in Zimbabwe Mine Collapse

Takavarasha said those who were rescued said there were about 40 people in the mine shaft at the time of the incident, and that rescue efforts were ongoing.

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At least 40 informal miners in Zimbabwe have been trapped underground after a shaft in a disused gold mine collapsed.

This was disclosed by the head of Zimbabwe’s Miners Federation Wellington Takavarasha who said the incident occurred late Wednesday in the town of Bindura, around 70 kilometres (43 miles) north of the capital Harare.

Takavarasha told reporters that the miners were working inside the unused Ran Gold Mine when a shaft caved in.

Six miners have since been pulled from the rubble and taken to hospital.

According to Takavarasha, those who were rescued said there were about 40 people in the mine shaft at the time of the incident, and that further rescue efforts were ongoing.

Read also: 12 Illegal Miners Feared Dead in Zimbabwean Collapsed Mineshaft

Mining is a major source of foreign currency for Zimbabwe, where gold alone accounts for 60 per cent of exports.

The landlocked southern African country is home to vast gold and mineral reserves, including diamonds and platinum.

The gold sector provides jobs to nearly 10 per cent of the country’s population, according to the International Crisis Group.

Small-scale miners often operate illegally to avoid selling their bullion to the state-owned buyer, Fidelity Printers and Refiners, as they are paid only 55 per cent in foreign currency.

The remaining 45 per cent is paid in Zimbabwean dollars, which is notorious for its weakness.

Accidents are relatively common in decommissioned mines, particularly when the ground is loosened by rain.

 

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