Monday, September 30, 2013

Boko Haram kills 78 students in a college campus

Gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram sect members yesterday went on rampage in Gujba community, Yobe state where they opened fire on the students of the College of Agriculture, Gujba, at 3a.m. as they slept in their hostels. They later moved to other houses, where they killed residents at will.
They also blocked the Damaturu-Maiduguri road and killed travellers.
At the end of the attack, 78 persons lay dead, while several others were still missing.
According to members of the community, soldiers arrived the scene two hours after the gunmen had left.
The gunmen were said to be wearing military camouflage with black bandanas round their heads.
An official of DamaturuSpecialistHospital, who requested anonymity, said “immediately after the attack, 40 bodies were brought to the morgue and all are believed to have been students of the College of Agriculture in Gujba.”

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Let’s unite against Boko Haram, others

Wole Soyinka
I am certain there are others who, like me, received invitations to the recent edition of the Storymoja/Hay Literature Festival in Nairobi, but could not attend. My absence was particularly regrettable, because I had planned to make up for my failure to turn up for the immediate prior edition. Participant or absentee however, this is one edition we shall not soon forget.

It was at least two days after the listing of Kofi Awoonor among the victims that I even recollected the fact that the festival was ongoing at that very time. With that realisation came another:  that Kofi and I could have been splitting a bottle at that same watering hole in between events and at the end of each day.

My feelings, I wish to state clearly, did not undergo any changes. The emotions of rage, hate and contempt remained on the same qualitative and quantitative levels. Those are the feelings I have retained since the Boko Haram onslaught overtook the northern part of our nation. I expect them to remain at the same level until I draw my last breath, hopefully in peaceful circumstances like Chinua Achebe, or else violently like Kofi. As becomes daily clarified in contemporary existence, none of us has much control over these matters.

Monday, September 23, 2013

In Africa, Al Qaeda finds new life

Scene of Boko Haram bombing of UN office in Abuja
Al Qaeda-inspired militancy is on the rise in Africa as disparate groups with local grievances find common cause in the global terror group’s tactics and ideology and, in turn, offer it new theaters of operation.

Military pressure, drone strikes and the assassination of Osama bin Laden have diminished Al Qaeda globally, leaving it weaker than at any point since its first terrorist spectacular, the 1998 bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

But while Al Qaeda central wanes, affiliates elsewhere are growing stronger, nowhere more so than in Africa, where groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM), Boko Haram and Al Shabaab are finding ways of hitching Al Qaeda’s ideology to their local struggles.

“Africa represents a fertile ground for diminished ‘Al Qaeda-core’ to re-group, re-energize and re-launch its mission of global jihad," according to a recent report by the Royal United Service Institute, a London-based think tank.The report pointed to the potential for an “arc of instability encompassing the whole Sahara-Sahel strip and extending through to East Africa.” It warned that Al Qaeda’s new strategy seemed to be “going native,” using local militant groups and their conflicts to gain a foothold in new countries.

World must unite to end sexual violence in conflict

Each day accounts of horrific crimes in Syria reach the outside world. Now the UN has confirmed that rape is being used to terrorise and punish women, men and children, during house searches and interrogations, at checkpoints, and in detention centres and prisons across the country.
The latest harrowing UN Commission of Inquiry report describes a mother being raped and forced to cook and clean for her captors, under the threat of the murder of her children. It tells the story of a university student who was raped because her brother was wanted by the government. These accounts are the tip of the iceberg. Fear, shame and the sheer struggle for survival mean that many survivors do not dare to come forward.
Sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war in nearly every major conflict in our lifetimes, from Bosnia to Rwanda. 
This is rape used as a deliberate military tactic, to achieve political objectives: to humiliate political opponents, to drive out or subjugate a different ethnic grouping, or to terrorise a community into submission. In some conflicts it is even used to infect women with HIV, or to injure them so badly that they are unable to bear children.

"We've 6 Americans hostage," says Al-Shabaab

A new tweet from Al-Shabaab states the jihadists are holding 20 westerners hostage in the ongoing siege in a shopping mall in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.  The tweet claims a total of 32 hostages including six American, four French and three Dutch nationals.

Day 3 of siege in Kenya: Heavy gunfire heard coming from Nairobi shopping mall

Heavy and rapid bursts of gunfire were heard coming from inside Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall at dawn Monday, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

A Kenyan security source said an assault against Al Qaeda-linked Somali gunmen inside the complex was underway.

The AFP correspondent said he heard about 15 minutes of fierce gunfire which then subsided. An AFP photographer at the scene said troops posted around the mall ducked for cover.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

6 US-based Islamists among Kenya mall attackers

Six US-based Islamists, two from Finland and one based in UK are among the jihadists that attacked Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya's capital city, according to a release reportedly by Al-Shabaab.

The venue of the attack is a popular shopping mall for middle class and upper class Kenyans as well as tourists and foreigners living in the East African country. Reports put the number of the dead so far at 68 with about 175 others wounded.

There are between 50 to 200 hostages and most of them are hiding in various places inside the mall, Fox News confirms. They are not all being held by the hostage-takers. There are between 10 to 15 militants currently inside the mall, with at least one being female, according to reports.

According to a release from the terrorist group, the attackers are aged between 20 and 27 and are drawn from eight countries, most of them in the west.  Here is the list:

Sayid N. from Kismayu, Somalia.

Zaki Jama C., from Hargeisa, Somalia

Said D., from Damascus, Syria

Mohamed B., from Aleppo, Syria

Qasim Said M., Garissa, Kenya

Ismail G., from Helsinki, Finland

Ahmed Nasir S., from London, UK

Mustafa N., from Kansas City, US

Abdishakur Sheikh H., from Maine, US

Abdifatah Osman K., from Minneapolis, US

Ahmad Mohamed I., from Saint Paul, US

Abdikarem Ali M., from Illinois, US

Shafie D., from Tucson, US

Eliko M., from Dagestan, Russia

Mohammed A., from Svalov, Sweden

Al-Shabaab twitter account suspended after Kenya mall attack

An injured shopper being helped out of the mall  (c) AP

The Twitter account of Somalia’s Al Qaeda-linked Shabab rebels was suspended Saturday after they used the site to claim responsibility for an attack on a Nairobi shopping mall that left 59 dead and 175 wounded.

A message from Twitter on the English-language @HSM_Press account read that the account was suspended, the third time this year that the group has been expelled from the site.

According to Twitter users are blocked “for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities”.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Al-Shabab terror attack in a Kenyan mall

An injured lady being rescued from the scene.
Today in the city of Nairobi, Kenya's beautiful capital, fundamentalists murdered at least 26 and severely injured over 50.  Gunmen threw grenades and opened fire in an attack targeting non-Muslims at an upscale mall in Kenya's capital that was hosting a children's day event.
Somali's militant al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack. The Muslim extremists, who have killed Kenyans near the border and are blamed for church bombings, vowed two years ago to attack Nairobi after Kenya sent troops into Somalia to get control of the situation there.
The rising threat of Islamic extremism is Africa's most alarming trend.  According to Maj. Gen Carlton Everhart II, AFRICOM senior Air Force commander, "the growing threat that al-Qaida affiliates are posing to nations in north, east, and southwest Africa has really changed the dynamic by making counterterrorism a growth business on the continent."
A shopper being helped out of the mall.
Kenyan police told the Daily Nation, the country's leading newspaper, that at least 26 people died and more than 50 were injured in the attack, which was allegedly carried out by five to 10 gunmen with AK-47s and other sophisticated weapons. The Red Cross reports 30 dead, according to Easy FM radio.
Nairobi Police Chief Benson Kibue called the incident "a terrorist attack" according to the Associated Press. Witnesses told local news media and the Associated Press that the gunman asked Muslims to leave before opening fire. Kenya is 83% Christian with a sizable Muslim community — about 11% of its 44 million people.

Click below for more photos.  Be warned some contain images that you may find disturbing.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Africa has highest proportion of undiagnosed diabetes

Africa has the highest proportion of undiagnosed diabetes which is about 78 per cent, this is according to a study by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) published in the World Diabetes Atlas. It said Sub-Saharan Africa has more than 15 million of the 371 million people living with diabetes in the world.
IDF says an estimated 344,000 deaths in the region could be attributed to diabetes, which represents 6.1 per cent of deaths from all causes.
The study revealed that investment, research, and health systems are slow to respond to this burden and remain focused primarily on infectious diseases. It said the region accounts for less than 1 per cent of global healthcare expenditures due to diabetes.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Scoring Africa

Here is one of the most detailed analysis of Africa I have seen in recent times.  As a statistician, writer and lover of infograhics, I find this work by Great Business Schools, a compelling evidence of the different realities in the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-racial, resource-rich and but politically-challenged continent called Africa.
'Scoring Africa', is a remarkable portrayal of how the various countries in Africa compare on economy, health, human rights, education, personal safety, national security, population, size and a host others.  I'm sure you will find it revealing and informative.
Kudos Great Business Schools for this work.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

African governments still underfunding health

Twelve years after African governments pledged in the Abuja Declaration to allocate at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to healthcare by 2015, just six countries have met this goal.
Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Togo and Zambia have met the target, and five other countries are spending at least 13 percent of their annual budgets on health, according to data compiled by the UN World Health Organization (WHO).
While on aggregate spending on health has increased - up to 10.6 percent from 8.8 - about a quarter of African Union (AU) member-states have regressed and are now spending less on health than they were in 2001, adds the WHO data.
Recently, the AU held another special summit on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria in Abuja, Nigeria, dubbed Abuja +12, which provided an opportunity for African governments and other stakeholders to review progress made and to discuss what should be done to ensure health funding targets are met before 2015.

Rethinking mental health in Africa

As African countries strive to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and plot a new development agenda thereafter, health experts are gathering evidence across the continent to make a case for a greater focus on its millions of mentally ill.
Experts say investing in mental health treatment for African countries would bolster development across the continent, but national health priorities have been overtaken by the existing MDG structure, which has specific targets for diseases like malaria and HIV, placing them higher on countries' agendas than other health issues.
"Everyone is putting their money in HIV, reproductive health, malaria," says Sheila Ndyanabangi, director of mental health at Uganda's Ministry of Health. "They need also to remember these unfunded priorities like mental health are cross-cutting, and are also affecting the performance of those other programmes like HIV and the rest."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Checkmating Boko Haram fugitives

Scene of a Boko Haram bombing at St. Theresa Catholic
Church, Madalla
Running away from the fusillade of bullets in the North-East zone of the country, some Boko Haram insurgents have relocated to Lagos State. They seem to have embedded themselves in some areas of the state and in adjoining Ogun State. Early last month, 42 of these fugitives were paraded by the General Officer Commanding 81 Division of the Nigeria Army, Lagos, Maj.-Gen. Obi Umahi. Their presence is perilous, given the fact that Lagos is the economic nexus of the country.

In May, a state of emergency was imposed on Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states by President Goodluck Jonathan. A military operation that came in its wake, has scuppered the evil reign of the fundamentalist sect in the affected states, forcing them to such hideouts as Aviation Quarters, Mafoluku in Oshodi; Ketu/Mile 2 Motor Park; Orile Trailer Park; Lekki new extension and Bar Beach – all in Lagos. In Ogun State, Ibafo Trailer Park and Ileke New Garage are their enclaves. However, many points at these rendezvous of evil were raided recently following intelligence reports and the hoodlums were rounded up by the military.

These arrests were not the first. On March 14, security operatives had nabbed 14 suspected members of the sect at Ijora Badia. In another incident, security operatives stormed a newly-rented apartment owned by a Chadian member of the group, and found Improvised Explosive Devices neatly tucked in food coolers that were hidden in the ceiling. Confessions from them evinced plan to attack the United States of America and Israeli interests, in addition to 16 designated targets in simultaneous bombing operations. Continually, these merchants of death want to exploit the fact that the South-West has a sizeable moderate Muslim population, which they can easily blend with, to unleash their terror.