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Nigeria's Boko Haram now political issue
by Staff Writers
Lagos, Nigeria (UPI) Aug 9, 2012

Nigerian troops recover weapons after raids in north
Kano, Nigeria (AFP) Aug 11, 2012 - Nigerian troops recovered weapons in raids on suspected Boko Haram bases in two northern cities, officials said Saturday.

A raid in Tudun Bayero, some 10 kilometres from Kano, northern Nigeria's largest city, was carried out early Saturday after a tip-off, Kano State director of State Security Service (SSS) Basil Etang told AFP.

He said items recovered included 33 improvised explosive devices, nine rifles, 139 rounds of ammunition, ammonia fertiliser and nitric acid.

"We also discovered some military uniforms being used by the terrorist elements to commit their crimes", he said, adding that three suspects were arrested.

The raid in Kano came two days after another cache was discovered in Maiduguri, another hotbed of the Islamists, where four AK-47 assault rifles, a machine gun and ammunition was recovered, another security official said.

Nigerian soldiers have stepped up their crackdown on members of Boko Haram which launched an uprising in 2009 which was brutally put down, leaving hundreds dead.

The group has killed more than 1,400 people since 2010 in attacks across northern and central Nigeria, according to a new toll released this week by Human Rights Watch.

Nigeria's ACN wants President Goodluck Jonathan to convene a national conference on security.

The Action Congress of Nigeria said it is concerned about the rising level of violence in the country, which is destabilizing the country as a whole, specifically the rising violence of the militant Islamic sect Boko Haram.

ACN National Publicity Secretary Alhaji Lai Mohammed on Wednesday released a statement in Ibadan stating that Jonathan's government must acknowledge that it obviously isn't winning the national war against terrorism and must adopt a new strategy, PM News reported.

Mohammed's pronouncement is in accordance with a new platform being planned by ACN party and other opposition groups, which say will sweep the ruling People's Democratic Party out of office in 2015.

"We should ask ourselves: has Mr. President actually been able to respond to the yearnings of Nigerians in the performance of his duties?" Mohammed said during an interview. "Has he been able to keep his electoral promises? ...

"The entire presidency is also enmeshed in scandal and incompetence."

Acknowledging the increased level of terrorist sectarian violence in Nigeria, on June 21 the U.S. State Department, under Executive Order 13224, designated Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau along with high-level Boko Haram members Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi terrorists.

The Executive Order "blocks all of Shekau's, Kambar's and al-Barnawi's property interests subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with or for the benefit of these individuals."

The State Department has yet to declare Boko Haram a "Foreign Terrorist Organization."

Some intelligence officials in the U.S. government have argued that Boko Haram should be labeled a FTO following its Aug. 26, 2011, bombing of the U.N. building in the capital Abuja that 23 people and injured scores of others.

Last month U.S. Africa Command commander Gen. Carter Ham warned that three of Africa's largest militant Islamic groups were trying to coordinate their activities.

The AFRICOM commander stated that North African al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Nigeria's Boko Haram and Somalia's al-Shabab were Africa's "most dangerous" groups, adding that AQIM was probably sharing explosives and funds with Boko Haram.

Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensounda has also spoken out against the radical fundamentalist sect, stating that the ICC was monitoring the Boko Haram insurgency and the effort by Jonathan's administration to tackle the issue.

Mohammed says the failure of the government to quell the Boko Haram insurgency as providing a political opportunity.

"Nigerians today are not safe in their homes, offices, roads or places of worship," he said. "Terrorists, kidnappers armed robbers and arsonists have taken complete control of the country and all the government can offer are platitudes."

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Mali says military intervention in north 'inevitable'
Bamako (AFP) Aug 9, 2012 - Mali's government said Thursday that atrocities committed by Islamists occupying the north in the application of Islamic law showed that military intervention would be "inevitable".

"Every day, while efforts for a negotiated solution are increasing, the practices of the terrorists and drug traffickers cloaked in a false religious veil give weight to the inevitable nature of the military option," a statement read.

On Wednesday, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), one of the armed Islamist groups occupying the north, cut off the hand of a thief, just 10 days after Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) publicly stoned an unmarried couple to death.

"By cutting off the hand of a resident of Ansongo, the extremists occupying the Malian north have added a new vile act to their long list of atrocities and humiliations committed against these populations," the statement said.

The interim government vowed to accelerate plans to "reconquer the north". It said dialogue with the Islamists had a limited ability to "make them understand reason", but that the government remained open to talks.

The statement said the Islamists' brutal implementation of strict Islamic law, or sharia, justified calls by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon for sanctions against them.

Representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union, UN, European Union and Malian government begin a five-day meeting in Bamako on Friday.

They are expected to finalise plans for the deployment of a 3,300-strong African force.

The Security Council has said it is ready to approve an African force in Mali with an official request from Bamako. ECOWAS and the African Union also have to give more information on the size, means and mandate of the proposed force.


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Once mighty, Somalia's army struggles to rebuild
Mogadishu (AFP) Aug 9, 2012
As hundreds of Somali army recruits march haltingly around a dusty parade ground on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Ugandan officer Assa Mutebi admits that sometimes his job can feel a little strange. Mutebi, the "patriotism instructor" for the 2,000-odd recruits who have just returned from a year of European Union-funded training in Uganda, is responsible for teaching the fledgling soldiers to ... read more

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