Staff Writer With AFP

  • Former Afghan Taliban fighters

    Afghanistan to Free 900 More Taliban Prisoners

    Afghan authorities plan to release 900 more Taliban prisoners Tuesday, as a rare ceasefire by the insurgents entered its third and last day.

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  • Afghan Taliban-US peace deal

    Afghan Govt Frees Taliban Prisoners as Truce Holds for Second Day

    Afghan authorities released 100 Taliban prisoners Monday as part of the government's response to a surprise, three-day ceasefire the insurgents called to mark the Eid al-Fitr festival.

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  • Democratic Republic of Congo soldiers

    Nine Killed in Eastern DR Congo Attack

    Nine civilians were killed on Sunday in the eastern DR Congo region of Beni in another attack blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia, according to local sources. The attackers fled after a gunfight with army troops, according to Anthony Mualushayi, a regional army spokesman. The fighters “burned down some houses” and people have fled, said Donat Kibwana, the region’s administrator, adding that there were “some wounded on the military side.” Local official Bozi Sindiwako told AFP that two women and seven men were killed. The ADF is accused of killing more than 400 civilians in six months in retaliation for a military offensive launched in October against their bases. More than 1,000 civilians have died in attacks blamed on the ADF in the Beni region since October 2014. They often target farmers returning from the fields or at home in their villages at night. The mainly Muslim movement originated in neighboring Uganda, opposed to the rule of President Yoweri Museveni. In 1995 they crossed the border into DR Congo, which became its base of operations. “Barbaric acts” are being committed by militiamen in Beni and elsewhere in eastern DR Congo, the government said at a cabinet meeting on Friday. …

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  • Operation Barkhane Bourgou 4

    Eight Jihadists Killed in Ivorian-Burkina Operation: Ivory Coast Army

    Eight suspected jihadists were killed and another 38 captured in a joint operation by Burkinabe and Ivorian forces near the two countries’ shared border, the Ivory Coast army said Sunday. The captured men — 24 in Burkina Faso and 14 in Ivory Coast — were handed over to intelligence services, a source at Ivorian army headquarters told AFP. A “terrorist base” was destroyed at Alidougou in Burkina Faso, the source added. Arms, ammunition, USB keys, and cell phones were also seized during the operation, the source said. Operation “Comoe,” named after a river that flows through the two west African countries, was launched in early May, the source said, praising the “perfect coordination between the two armies.” This joint operation, presented on Saturday by the two armies’ top commanders as the first of its kind, took place northeast of the Ivorian town of Ferkessedougou and south of Banfora in Burkina Faso. On Saturday, a Burkinabe security source said the entire operation had been carried out in Ivory Coast. But local people told an AFP journalist that the fighting took place around the villages of Tinadalla and Diambeh north of Kong in the northeast of Ivory Coast. They spoke of a considerable military …

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  • Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaks during a ceremony in Tehran

    Iran’s Khamenei: Fight to ‘Liberate Palestine’ Is ‘Islamic Duty’

    Iran’s supreme leader said it was an “Islamic duty” to fight for the “liberation of Palestine” in a landmark speech Friday amid rising tensions with regional arch-enemy Israel. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at Western governments and their Arab “puppets” for supporting the Jewish state, in his first ever address marking Quds (Jerusalem) Day. The 80-year-old leader also appeared to confirm for the first time that Iran has helped to provide Palestinians with arms. The remarks came at the end of a week that saw Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launch a Twitter tirade against Khamenei and reports that the two sides carried out cyber attacks on each other. “The aim of this struggle is the liberation of the entire Palestinian land” and “the return of all Palestinians to their country,” Khamenei said in the speech broadcast live on state television. “The policy of normalizing the presence of the Zionist regime in the region is one of the major policies of the United States of America,” he said. “Some Arab governments in the region, which play the role of U.S. puppets, have provided the necessary preconditions for this, such as economic ties and the like; these efforts are completely fruitless and sterile. …

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  • Sudan’s Bloody Tribal Clashes Threaten Fragile Transition

    An upsurge in bloody tribal clashes in Sudan has killed at least 59 people and wounded over 100 this month, heaping more pressure on the country’s fragile transitional government. More than a year since the fall of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, who ruled over ethnically diverse regions with an iron fist, the joint civilian-military administration has struggled to steady a politically and economically unstable Sudan. In the latest inter-ethnic violence, 30 people were killed in clashes on May 7 between the Arab Rizeigat tribe and the Falata, who trace their roots to western Africa, sparked by a dispute over livestock. Three days later, three people died, 79 were wounded and several homes were burnt down in violence between members of the Bani Amer and Nuba tribes in the eastern city of Kassala, near Sudan’s border with Eritrea. This was followed by yet more lethal confrontations that left 26 people dead and 19 injured on May 13 in Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan province. Tribal grievances spilling over into bloodshed have been a mainstay of Sudan’s numerous ethnic conflicts since independence from British and Egyptian rule in 1956. Sudan’s most notorious violence shook the Dafur region in 2003 when Bashir’s …

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  • Soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) prepare to escort health workers attached to ebola response programs on May 18, 2019 in Butembo, north of Kivu

    Coronavirus Fails to Halt Conflict in DR Congo’s Powder-Keg East

    Coronavirus has swiftly gained status as the world’s No. 1 threat but in eastern DR Congo, one of Africa’s most volatile regions, militia killings and ethnic violence are an older and — for now — far greater source of dread. Some 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) distant from the capital Kinshasa, this beautiful region bordering Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi has been a notorious flashpoint since the Congo Wars of the 1990s. “The COVID-19 crisis must not make us forget the atrocities which are taking place in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” 2018 Nobel peace laureate Denis Mukwege said on Tuesday. In the provinces of Ituri and North Kivu, “civilians are being massacred,” he said. “In South Kivu, Rwandan and Burundian armies are battling armed groups in the high plateaus of Minembwe, destroying everything in their wake,” Mukwege said. “And in Tanganyika, the Zambians who had until now had good neighborly relations with DR Congo… recently invaded our territory.” Mukwege co-won the coveted prize for his treatment in helping women raped by armed rebels in South Kivu. The Kivu Security Tracker, an NGO which documents bloodshed in the two Kivu provinces, said March was one of the least violent months it …

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  • President Trump leaves after speaking at a news conference following the Senate Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill on May 19

    Trump to Withdraw US From ‘Open Skies’ Treaty

    President Donald Trump announced Thursday he plans to withdraw the United States from the Open Skies Treaty with Russia, the third arms control pact Trump has abrogated since coming to office. The U.S. leader said Moscow had not stuck to its commitments under the 18-year-old pact, which was designed to improve military transparency and confidence between the superpowers. “Russia did not adhere to the treaty,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “So until they adhere, we will pull out.” The New York Times reported that Trump plans to inform Moscow of the move on Friday, and that it could be a prelude to Washington also withdrawing from the New START Treaty, which limits the number of nuclear missiles the United States and Russia can deploy. The Open Skies agreement between Russia, the United States, and 32 other countries, mostly members of the NATO alliance, permits one country’s military to conduct a certain number of surveillance flights over another each year on short notice. The aircraft can survey the territory below, collecting information and pictures of military installations and activities. The idea is that the more rival militaries know about each other, the less the chance of conflict between them. But the sides also use the …

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  • A line of Navy T-44C Pegasus' parked on the flightline aboard Naval Air Station Corpus Christi on July 23, 2019, in Texas

    Texas Navy Base Locked Down in Shooting Incident

    A U.S. Navy base in Texas went on lockdown Thursday after shots were fired by an unidentified person, but no injuries were reported, the Navy said. Security forces at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, where both U.S. and foreign military personnel undergo flight training, responded to an “active shooter” at about 6:15 am local time, said Fifi Kieschnick, a spokesperson for the base. “The shooter has been neutralized,” she said. One service member originally reported as injured “is okay,” she said, but the base remained on lockdown two hours after the incident. It came five months after a Saudi air force student with al-Qaeda ties opened fire at a U.S. Navy air base in Florida, killing three U.S. sailors and injuring eight others. On Monday, U.S. law enforcement officials said the Florida shooter had radicalized at least five years ago and planned to undertake an attack before he arrived in the United States for military training. Since then tougher rules have been set to prevent the thousands of foreign military trainees in the United States each year from accessing firearms, and to conduct more thorough background checks on them.

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  • Togo is on the front line after its northern neighbour, Burkina Faso, fell prey to the jihadist chaos that had begun in neighbouring Mali

    Worried Togo Finds Itself on Front Line of Sahel’s Jihadist War

    In a makeshift bunker of sacks of rice beneath a tree, heavily-armed Togolese soldiers keep watch over villagers coming and going on foot or bike across the border with Burkina Faso. Just a dried-out river bed separates the two West African countries. In surrounding fields, peasant farmers are bent silhouettes, watering the sorghum and maize seeds sown before the arrival of the first rains. Soon, clouds will chase away the fine dust of the harmattan, the desert wind that each year sweeps off the Sahara southwards to the coast and chokes the air. Nothing dramatic, or so it would seem, ever happens at Yemboate, in Togo’s far north. Yet less than 30 kilometers (19 miles) away, over the border in eastern Burkina Faso, jihadists and militia groups have imposed their own brutal law. Those policemen, doctors, and teachers who have not fled are being hunted down and butchered. “When I was small, we spent our time swimming in the river,” says farmer Abdoulaye Mossi, leaning on his bike with a hoe, speaking to AFP before the coronavirus pandemic. The arid channel separates his peaceful village of cob huts from a Burkinabe village on the other side. “Fear rules today,” the farmer says. But fear does …

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