Sunday, June 29, 2014

Chibok Burns Again As Gunmen Kill 51, Burn Churches, Houses
Damage from recent attacks in Chibok where Christian churches
were targeted.
June 30, 2014
BY Henry Umoru & NDAHI  MARAMA
Nigerian Vanguard

MAIDUGURI—Gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram Islamic sect, yesterday, attacked some communities in Chibok and Biu local government areas of Borno State, killing no fewer than 51 people. Those killed were mostly Christian worshippers. Five churches including Cocin, EYN and Deeper Life Bible Church in Kwada village, about 10 kilometres from Chibok were also burnt down when the gunmen laid ambush on them during church service.

The attacks were carried out on a day the Federal Government said last week’s bomb attack on Abuja was meant to intimidate the government and that it is a struggle for power.

It was in Chibok town that 276 female students of Government Girls Secondary School were abducted by terrorists on April 14 this year.

Boko Haram had two weeks ago written to Chibok communities threatening to carry out further attacks.

The attackers, according to report from locals in Chibok, made good their threat at a time the people were all in Church for the Sunday worship. A resident of one of the affected communities, Amos Bulus told Vanguard that, “the attackers killed and burnt houses after attacking worshippers in five churches in Kwada, before moving to Kautikari less than 8 kilometres to Chibok town, killing and burning down people’s houses and property. The security operatives were not on ground to defend us. In fact, those who ran into the bush were pursued and killed by the murderers.”

It was gathered from another source that the people living in Chibok town have fled their homes following the news of the attacks in Kwada and Kautikari.

A police officer, Peter Maina said he was called out from a Church service in Maiduguri, only to be informed that his brother was killed at Kwada when the insurgents attacked the village during church service.

Tears flow from Chibok natives

Vanguard also gathered that Chibok natives resident in Maiduguri could not hold back tears, yesterday, when they learnt that some of their villages came under deadly attacks .

At Chikwarkir village in Biu Local Government Area, a resident, Mallam Audu Zira told Vanguard on phone that the terrorists came in pick up vehicles and motorcycles and opened fire on people before setting houses, and other property ablaze.

He said after killing one person, the terrorists carted away foodstuffs and motorcycles before they fled into the bush.

All efforts to reach spokesman of the Borno State police command, DSP Gideon Jibrin proved abortive as his line was switched off at the time of this report.

Sen. Mohammed Ali Ndume, representing Borno South Senatorial District also confirmed the multiple attacks on Chibok villages, yesterday, in a telephone interview in Maiduguri. He said the Federal Government should do more by deploying more troops to the affected areas of Chibok to secure other villages from being attacked by Boko Haram insurgents.

“The military and other security agencies should do more by not only deploying more personnel, but cooperating fully with members of the Local Vigilante Group in fighting terrorism and insurgency in this part of the state. They know the terrains of Sambisa Forest and can track insurgents in their hideouts.

“The two should work as a team to end this Boko Haram insurgency that will clock five years by July 29, 2014”, Ndume said.

Chibok girls: US reduces surveillance flights

Meanwhile, the United States said over the weekend that it had reduced its surveillance flights in the search for more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram members on April 14 this year but added that the overall effort was unchanged due to more flights by other countries.

“We don’t have any better idea today than we did before about where these girls are, but there has been no let up of the effort itself”, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters. Kirby said the same level of effort was being sustained now through international involvement.

A US defence official speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters that pentagon flights had been reduced only after a body of intelligence had been gathered and that the cuts had been offset by British and French support.

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“Boko Haram 486”: Handle With Care

Arrested men said by the Nigerian government to be members of
Boko Haram.
June 30, 2014
By Ochereome Nnanna
Nigerian Vanguard

I AM returning to the sensitive issue of the 486 Northerners (mostly indigenes of Jigawa State) nabbed in Abia State on suspicion that they were members of the Boko Haram Islamic terrorist group. Both states are of particular interest to me.

I have my native roots in Abia State. On the other hand, Jigawa is almost like my baby. I have watched it grow from infancy from the very day it was created in 1991. I have very valuable friends there, and this made it possible for me to track its progress from the status of the poorest state in Northern Nigeria in 2007 till date when it has overcome the tag of backwardness and emerged as one of the most infra-structurally developed states in Nigeria due to excellent political leadership over the past seven years.

Cross section of Suspected Boko-haram Insurgence arrested between Aro-Ngwa and Imo gate along Enugu-Portharcort Express way in Abia state by the Nigerian Army attached to the state, insert are their (33) buses.

Cross section of Suspected Boko-haram Insurgence arrested between Aro-Ngwa and Imo gate along Enugu-Portharcort Express way in Abia state by the Nigerian Army attached to the state, insert are their (33) buses.

About a week ago, the Nigerian Army and security agencies nabbed a convoy of 33 buses ferrying 486 people of Northern origin in Abia State, on the suspicion that they could be members of the Boko Haram terrorist group. This is not the first time Northerners have travelled to the South and vice versa. The suspicion was based on several factors.

The insurgents in the North brag they want to Islamise Nigeria. Eastern Nigeria has less than five per cent of its indigenes who subscribe to the Islamic faith. “Abubakar Shekau”, the leader of Boko Haram, has been boasting that he would soon start targeting the South. Governor Kassim Shettima of Borno State, who is often seen as a hidden supporter of Boko Haram, recently warned that the terrorists would soon spread their activities to the South and other parts of the country. There have been reports that “Fulani herdsmen”, the murderous gangs attacking villages in North Central Nigeria and raping women, have infiltrated parts of Enugu State.

When, in the midst of it all a convoy of 33 buses carrying mostly young men with virtually no luggage, moves into Igbo land at 3am under the cover of darkness, there is bound to be suspicion that they are up to no good. No normal human being will see this kind of strange influx in his neighbourhood and fail to raise an eyebrow. On further investigation, we have already been informed that a high ranking, wanted Boko Haram kingpin has been discovered in their midst. The Coordinator of the National Information Centre, Mr Mike Omeri, also dropped an ominous hint that the findings about the 486 suspects would shock the nation, though he went no further than this.

All these establish a credible basis to justify the arrest of the suspects. I still believe that most of them might be innocent, law-abiding citizens fleeing to safer areas of the country where they believe there are economic opportunities. I am not sure, though, if economic migrants usually go in such large numbers and convoys, without personal effects. I am not even sure if terrorists move in convoys. What I suspect is that terrorists can hide among such innocuous groups of persons to move into new areas to plant their evil cells.

It is very crucial for us to see the arrest and ongoing interrogations as a purely security operation. The Abia State Government did not arrest the suspects. They have no power to do so. It was the army and security agencies that nabbed them. That the military cantonment from which the soldiers were drawn is in Abia State does not mean that the soldiers are Abia troops under the command of Governor Theodore Orji. The Abia State Government merely raised the alarm over possible threat to the citizens and residents of the state. It is their responsibility to do so.

I do not see where the Jigawa State House of Assembly found the justification to threaten to sue the Abia State Government for raising an alarm over perceived security threats in its area of jurisdiction. I can understand the usual rantings of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF. ACF is an enemy of the North and Nigeria as a whole masquerading as the defender of Northern interests. ACF never supports justice for all. As far as ACF is concerned, what is good for Nigeria is not good for the North, but what is good for the North is good for Nigeria. The North must impose its regional interests on the rest of the country. That is what makes ACF happy. It does not work like that.

The myopia and mischief in the ACF’s assertion that the suspects are mere “traders” are obvious. If they were traders, where were their goods? We have been seeing Northern traders in the South since we were born. They are in our markets on a daily basis. They always come in trailers and trucks with their (usually) agricultural commodities such as livestock, poultry, rice, beans, yams, onions, peppers, watermelons, and what have you. People are always waiting to patronise them. They have been part and parcel of the economic landscape of the South even before Nigeria was born. Even if Nigeria breaks up, Northerners will still be coming, and Southerners will be going to their sharia republic. There is an umbilical relationship that can never be cut even if we part ways politically.

It is in the national interest that the 486 suspects are thoroughly processed by our security agencies. Those who are terrorists among them should be taken to justice. The innocent ones should be freed to move on to their destination. But it must be established that they are not conspirators with the insurgents hiding among them.

It is very essential that the insurgency is not taken to any part of the South. Rather, we should all join hands to eliminate it from all corners of the North. Northerners fleeing from Boko Haram insurgency are welcome to the South and should feel at home, PROVIDED they are willing to be law abiding, peaceful and ready to contribute to the progress and wellbeing of their host communities. A single bomb explosion traced to Boko Haram in the South could devastate Nigeria as we know it. It could be the final trigger for the end of a century-long, costly experiment. We must stand against it.

Northern leaders and all well meaning Nigerians should be interested in ensuring no innocent Northerner is maltreated and unjustly profiled in the South as a Boko Haram member just because he is from the North. We must fight the insurgents without perpetrating injustice.

The Jigawa State Government, JGSG, must close ranks with the Abia State Government, ABSG, to ensure that the security processing of the 486 is conducted professionally and patriotically. It does not call for political or ethnic sabre-rattling. After all, both state governments are led by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The platform for dialogue and prevention of unpleasant social problems from this fragile episode is there. This does not call for government spokesmen being deployed to exchange hot words in the media. It could prove dangerous.

Let the Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, pick his phone and call his Abia State counterpart, Chief TA Orji, and talk it over.

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Igbo, Ijaw Vow to Defend Territories From Boko Haram
Damaturu bomb blast in Nigeria. 
JUNE 30, 2014
Nigerian Punch

Leaders of the Igbo and Ijaw nations have vowed to defend their territories in the face of the terrorist attacks of the Boko Haram sect.

The ethnic nationalities made the declaration in separate speeches during the inauguration of the newly elected National Executive Council of the Ohanaeze Youth Wing in Enugu.

While the new Leader of the Ohanaeze Youth Wing, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, assured that Igbo youths would defend Igboland against the incursion of the Boko Haram sect, the Acting President of the Ijaw National Congress, Charles Ambaiowei, an engineer, said the Ijaws are capable of defending themselves “if the time comes for everybody to defend themselves.”

Making his inaugural address, Isiguzoro raised the alarm over the gradual incursion of the Boko Haram sect and Fulani herdsmen into the South-East.

“We condemn the ongoing Boko Haram terrorist attacks as an ill wind that will blow no good. We shall do all in our powers to defend Igbo territory against the incursion of Boko Haram, since such incursion shall have dire consequences for national security.

“We as well condemn the terrorist activities of the so-called Fulani herdsmen who terrorise innocent farmers and women at will.

“Just two days ago, they attacked two women at Agbogugu, here in Enugu State in their farms, maiming them seriously,” he said.

He urged the Arewa Consultative Forum to call the perpetrators to order “if those people are actually Fulani herdsmen.”

Stressing that the Ohanaeze Youth Wing would collaborate with the governors to combat kidnapping, armed robbery and other criminal vices in Igboland, Isiguzoro urged President Goodluck Jonathan to help fight insecurity in the South-East by “extending amnesty to south-eastern militants, who were denied amnesty by President Umaru Yar’Adua based on their being from the South-East.”

He explained that the Igbo militants, who fought in the creeks alongside “their Ijaw brothers” had relocated to the South-East with their armory and their boys after they were not carried along in the amnesty programme.

The Ohanaeze youth leader further urged Jonathan to provide more infrastructure in the South-East in order to guarantee the support of the Igbo youths in the 2015 presidential election, “when he decides to run”.

On his part, the leader of the Ijaw National Congress, Ambaiowei, said that, like the Igbos, the Ijaws are ready to defend their territory in the face of the violent campaign of the Boko Haram sect.

He said Jonathan was the target of the Boko Haram campaign, which he said, was aimed at making things difficult for the president.

“If the time comes for everybody to defend themselves, then the Ijaws will be capable of defending our territory. The Ijaw territory is small: we are capable of defending it – I am sure the Igbos will be capable of doing the same thing,” he said.

Continuing, the Ijaw leader said, “The truth must be told, the Boko Haram insurgency was formulated to make things difficult for our brother President Goodluck Jonathan.”

He joined Ohanaeze Ndigbo in calling for the “dismantling” of the current states structure.

“Regionalism is the answer,” Ambaiowei stressed.

Also, he pointed out that the emergence of Jonathan as President did not mean that all the problems of the Ijaws have been solved.

Chairman of the event, former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika (rtd), in his remarks, urged Nigerian youths to fight insurgency and insecurity.

Ihejirika said, “President Goodluck Jonathan is performing very well. There is so much we can do in this country but without security, we cannot do much.”

11 Killed, 28 Injured as Bomb Blast Rocks Hotel in Bauchi
Damage from hotel bombing in Bauchi State, Nigeria.
Nigerian Accord

Eleven persons lost their lives while 28 others sustained various degrees of injury on Friday when a bomb exploded at Peoples Hotel in the Bayan Gari area of Bauchi metropolis.

Briefing newsmen in his office, the state’s Commissioner of Police, Lawal Shehu, said: “At about 9.30pm, on Friday, there was an explosion at Bayan Gari. Eleven people were confirmed dead while 28 others sustained injuries.

The victims were rushed to Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH) for treatment while the corpses were evacuated to the mortuary.”

He said the area has been cordoned off and the scene secured by the police bomb disposal unit.

The commissioner also disclosed that one person has been arrested in connection with the incident, while effort is underway to arrest other suspects.

He urged members of the public to be security conscious and pay attention to strange persons and objects particularly at motor parks, markets places, schools, places of worship, and shopping malls.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports eyewitness accounts. According to Ahmed Maidoki: “We were seated, watching highlights of the ongoing FIFA World Cup at the viewing centre located between the two story buildings of the hotel when five men dressed in military uniform strolled in.

“We thought they were security personnel, who came to relax as well. I noticed that they positioned themselves at four corners of the hall. The next thing I heard was an explosion, after which the arena was covered with thick smoke. My friends and I threw ourselves to the ground.

“We were trying to get out when the five men began to shoot at any one who tried to stand up, and in the process, killing many of the survivors of the blast.”

Another eyewitness, Usman Hassan, said: “As soon as I was a bit far from the scene, I heard gunshots. Few minutes later, a white Toyota Hilux vehicle zoomed out of the hotel at high speed with men wearing army uniforms.”

Gunmen in Maihula village of Bali Local Government Council, Taraba State, killed 10 persons yesterday.

The incident has forced people of the village to seek safety at the council’s administrative headquarters.

An eyewitness said about 30 men stormed the village, shooting sporadically.

The state in the last four months has witnessed similar attacks, which claimed lives and destroyed properties. The situation has caused people to relocate from the state.

Yesterday’s attack came hours after the celebration of a peace concert, organized by the state chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYC).

Although the state government claims it has brokered peace between various warring parties and has provided security operatives with over 70 patrol vehicles, the death toll continues to rise.

Confirming the attack, the council chairman, Andy Yerima, denied that the attack was carried out by unknown gunmen, saying: “armed robbers attacked and killed the people.”

He said the armed bandits attacked the people, whom according to him “were coming from the Garba-Chede market”, and dispossessed them of their valuables before killing them. He said the attack took place between Maihula and Dadinkowa village.

The Police Public Relation Officer Joseph Kwaji, said: “There was an attacked by unknown gunmen in Maihula village. Three spent AK47 shells were found at the scene by our patrol team drafted immediately to the scene.”

Anti-riot policemen, according to Kwaji, have been moved to the area to restore normalcy.

He called on members of the public to assist the police with relevant information that could lead to the arrest of the attackers.

48 Nigerians Feared Killed in Attack on Churches Near Chibok, Borno State
Damage from attacks on churches in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria.
Written by Njadvara Musa, Maiduguri (With agency report)

FRESH violence in Borno State claimed about 48 lives Sunday as suspected Boko Haram insurgents armed with explosives invaded many churches in villages near Chibok.

   Besides, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has condemned the terrorist attacks on Abuja and Bauchi that killed at least 37 people and injured many more.

  Sources said dozens of people may have been killed in the raids on villages about 10 kilometres outside of Chibok. Although the military was not immediately available to comment, the sources said that the death toll could be up to 48.

  “The attackers went to churches with bombs and guns,” Timothy James, a Chibok resident said by phone.

  “From what I gathered, dozens of worshippers, including men, women and children were killed,” he said, explaining that his information had come from people who fled the affected area and through phone calls.

 A Chibok leader, Enoch Mark, gave a similar account, telling Agence France Presse (AFP) in Lagos, “presently, as we are talking now, we are under attack”.

  “We cannot tell the number of dead bodies,” he added. “I was told the attackers burnt at least three churches to the ground.”

  Mark further said that the military had not responded to distress calls after the attack began.

  “They just went and got a hiding place in the bush.”

 An eyewitness and resident of Kautikiri, Adamu Pogu in a telephone interview in Maiduguri yesterday said: “The gunmen came on over two dozen motorcycles, and started to chase people and the ones going to church this morning (Sunday) with gunshots. Some of the villagers fell to the ground and the gunmen  shot dead nine of them here in Kautikiri. Other gunmen went after villagers in other villages of Kwada and Nguragila, while going to churches for this morning’s service, and killed 39 people there too.

  “I cannot give you the exact total number of our people killed this morning, as I speak, but they also shot dead several villagers in other attacked farming communities of Kwada and Nguragila of Chibok, before the insurgents fled into the forest by noon.  In Kautikiri, nine people lost their lives along with their torched houses.”

  Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, representing Borno South Senatorial District  also confirmed the multiple attacks on Chibok villages Sunday in a telephone interview in Maiduguri.

   He said the Federal Government should do more by deploying more troops in the affected areas of Chibok  to secure other villages from being attacked by Boko Haram insurgents.

  “The military and other security agencies should do more by not only deploying more personnel, but to cooperate fully with members of the

local vigilance group in fighting terrorism and insurgency in this part of the state. They know the terrains of Sambisa Forest in tracking insurgents’ modus operandi and hideouts.  They should work as a team to end this Boko Haram insurgency that will clock five years by July 29, 2014.”

  Following the abduction of over 200 school girl in Chibok, parents and local leaders accused the military of doing almost nothing to secure the release of the hostages.

   In a statement issued in Lagos Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party repeated its earlier statement that nothing can justify the spilling of the blood of innocent citizens, while commiserating with the families of the victims.

  It called on the Federal Government to review its strategy for the fight against terrorism, saying whatever was being done now was definitely not working, hence the deadly terrorist attacks had almost become a daily affair.

  ‘’Whatever strategy being used by this Federal Government is not yielding enough positive results. Otherwise, these terrorists would not have gone from carrying out their attacks on the outskirts of a city like Abuja, for example, to exploding a bomb right in the heart of the city as was witnessed in Wuse 2 last week,’’ APC said.

  The party wondered in particular why Abuja had remained so vulnerable to such attacks, considering the millions of naira reportedly spent on the  closed-circuit television (CCTV) project that was supposed to help secure the city, asking: ‘’Or has this project again become a victim of the runaway corruption and incompetence for which this administration is renowned?’’

  The party said instead of reaching out across partisan lines as the opposition had suggested several times, the Federal Government had resorted to chasing shadows while the killing of innocent citizens intensified.

   ‘’The scorecard of this Federal Government in the fight against terror is very dismal. Some 76 days after over 200 girls were abducted from Chibok, the girls are not any nearer home today than they were on the day they were abducted, and all the clueless and ineffective Administration of President Jonathan can do is to engage in image laundering that has caused the taxpayers US$1.2 million; witch-hunt the media as well as those perceived to be opponents of the administration and engage in a continuous and unprecedented abuse of national institutions.

  ‘’This Administration could have pumped the US$1.2 million it frittered away in the name of image laundering in the U.S. into the fight against terror, which seems to have waned. Unfortunately, as the President kicked started his wasteful image laundering with an op-ed in The Washington Post, he was being skewered in another U.S. newspaper, The New York Post.

  ‘’The paper’s (New York Post) Editorial Board wrote of the President’s newspaper diplomacy: ‘Remember, this is the same leader whose military initially claimed it had freed the girls, whose wife’s anger was directed at Nigerians protesting the government’s inaction rather than the kidnappers and who presides over Africa’s largest economy and fourth-largest armed forces’.

  ‘’There is no better demonstration of the fact that the Administration has wasted public funds on a misbegotten image laundering than this,’’ it said.

   APC also described the treatment meted out to pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia for lesser Hajj from the Maiduguri airport as another in a series of shadow-chasing by the government, which would rather misuse national institutions to flex muscles against innocent citizens than tackle the terrorists headlong.

   The party said forcing the pilgrims to travel by road from Maiduguri to Kano to be airlifted was callous and poorly-thought-out, considering the dangers they were likely to face on the road.

  ‘’The argument that the airlifting from Maiduguri was stopped at the last minute because of security is hogwash. Is that also the same reason that a private plane that flew into the same airport with eight people on board was forced to fly back empty after those who wanted to travel in it were prevented from doing so? Is it the same security reason that forced the closure of Akure airport even as planes that ferried APC leaders to the airport were on the tarmac? Is it also why newspapers were targeted across the nation?

  ‘’The truth is that the Jonathan Administration is playing dirty politics with the fight against terror, using national institutions to abridge constitutionally-guaranteed rights,’’ it said.
Sudan Opposition Forces Alarmed Over Remarks by President Bashir
Republic of Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir speaking to
the people.
June 28, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s opposition parties which agreed to participate in the national dialogue have expressed resentment over statements made by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir recently regarding the dialogue process and general elections.

In a speech before the members of the Shura (consultative) Council of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) on Thursday, Bashir said his government’s adherence to national dialogue does not stem from weakness, underscoring that next year general elections will be held as scheduled without delay.

He further slammed NCP officials who spoke of a possible postponement of the electoral process in case a political agreement is reached with opposition forces in the context of the national dialogue.

An informed source told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that the opposition participants in the national dialogue will hold a meeting to discuss Bashir’s remarks and take a final decision on whether to continue or not, noting that Bashir’s statements were disappointing.

The same source did not rule out that some opposition parties might nonetheless decide to carry on even if other opposition forces decided to boycott it.

It further disclosed that opposition parties participating in the dialogue approved in a meeting held on Wednesday the formation of a broad front, including political parties and national figures, to discuss the Sudanese crisis that is threatening the existence of the country.

The opposition parties have demanded a meeting with Bashir more than two weeks ago but the government has yet to respond to their request.

Last week, Sudanese presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour disclosed that Bashir, will meet with these political forces in the next few days to discuss ways for pushing forward the process.

The National Umma Party (NUP) and the Reform Now Party (RNP) suspended participation in the dialogue process to protest arrest of the former’s leader, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi and what they said was a government crackdown on political and media liberties.

However, the Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan al-Turabi has previously rejected calls to boycott the dialogue despite acknowledging recent crackdown by the government.

Al-Mahdi described in press statements on Thursday the government officials’ linkage between dialogue and elections as “pointless”, calling o the government to choose between a dialogue which is accepted by all Sudanese people or popular uprising.

Meanwhile, Ghandour asserted some political forces misinterpreted the NCP’s call for national dialogue, saying their call did not stem from a position of weakness but a conviction for uniting the national front.

Ghandour, who addressed the NCP conference at Khartoum locality on Friday, called on the political forces not to adopt a tactical approach in dealing with the president’s call for national dialogue, noting his party’s call for dialogue came at a time when the opposition forces and armed groups are at their weakest situation.

At the end of January, Bashir launched the national dialogue initiative aiming to hold an comprehensive conference on a new constitution and ways to end the armed conflicts in the Two Areas and Darfur. He also issued a number of presidential decrees to ensure freedom of expression, press freedom and create a conducive environment for this political process.

However, the security service last May arrested al-Mahdi for criticising a government militia, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and accusing it of committing war crimes in Darfur and South Kordofan.


Sudanese forces kill Darfur rebel leader Karbino

June 28, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – North Darfur governor Osman Youssef Kibir announced Saturday the death of the leader of Sudan Liberation Movement for Justice (SLMJ), Ali Karbino Ali Karbino, following clashes with the government forces in the state.

Kibir said Karbino was killed with 12 other rebels on Friday, after he launched an attack on Alquba area north of Kutum. He stressed the Sudanese army repulsed the attack and seized 31 armed vehicles.

The governor pointed, in a statement released on Saturday that several SLMJ fighters were held captive.

A Sudan Tribune reporter in El-Fasher obtained pictures showing Karbino’s body since the midday but the state governor and the Sudanese army confirmed the death only in the evening.

Sources say Arab pastoralists from the area and elements of the Border Guards militia affiliated to the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) attacked the SLMJ fighters on Friday following the alleged looting of camels belonging to the herders.

10 nomads were killed and several others wounded.

In statements to Ashorooq TV, the commander of the Sudanese army force in Alquba, colonel Alnour Ahmed Adam, confirmed the death of Karbino and showed 30 vehicles and weapons captured from the rebels.

Adam also said they captured 15 rebels, adding that his force was monitoring the movements of the rebels and managed to attack them Friday in Alquba.

Karbino joined Minni Minnawi following the historical split of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) in November 2005. However following the signing of May 2006 Darfur peace agreement, he joined a rebel coalition led by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

In 2011, the late rebel commander, joint the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) of Tijani al-Sissi. However he defected following the signing of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) in July 2011.

Last March and April, his group carried out joint military attacks with SLM-Minni Minnawi in South and North Darfur.

SAF spokesperson, al-Sawarmi Khaled Saad, on Thursday announced that SAF clashed with a group from the SLM-MM in Ed al-Zalat and al-Managim areas north east of Kutum in North Darfur state.

He said they inflicted heavy casualties in lives and equipment on the rebels and seized 22 armed vehicles, 2 rocket launchers, and 3 cannons besides small arms.

Clashes between Minnawi fighters and Sudanese army and government militia in March and April 2014 displaced over 81,000 people in South and North Darfur, according to the UN agencies.


Sudan seals new agreement with Petrodar on transit fees

June 28, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government and Petrodar oil company signed an agreement on Saturday, by which the latter pays $19.8 per barrel of oil flowing from oilfields number three and seven in South Sudan that ends up in Port Sudan export terminal on the Red Sea.

The deal provides for the payment of $366 million annually to Khartoum starting retroactively from June 2013, which is the date Juba resumed exporting its oil through Sudanese territory.

Petrodar is a consortium comprised of five companies including China National Petroleum (CNPC), Malaysia’s Petronas, Sudan’s Sudapet, China’s SINOPEC and Kuwait’s Tri-ocean Exploration and Production.

It operates in oilfields located in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state.

Khartoum and Juba were locked in a dispute over oil transit fees which led to the suspension of oil production in South Sudan. The issue was resolved in March of last year.

The Sudanese oil minister Makkawi Mohamed Awad said in press statements on Saturday, following the signing of the agreement, that his country’s efforts succeeded in persuading its partners in these oil companies to boost the transit and processing fees.

He disclosed that Petrodar agreed to raise transit fees to $4 from $1, and tariffs from $5.5 to $19.8 adding that the company wanted to help Sudan offset the loss of South Sudan’s oil following its independence in July 2011. The agreement will expire in 2017.

Awad said three more agreements will follow in the next two weeks regarding payment methods and other financial technicalities. This pact will also help resolve debt owed by Khartoum to several oil companies and other international organizations.

Half of the proceeds will be used to pay off the debt and the remaining half will go into Sudan’s treasury, he added.

Sudan owes CNPC $1.3 billion which represents the value of oil the government bought from it since the country’s breakup up till end of 2013.

The Sudanese official said that currently 200,000 barrels of oil pass through these pipelines on a daily basis from South Sudan. However. But other reports puts the figure at 150,000 particularly after the outbreak of the conflict in South Sudan.

The minister praised the support of these oil partners as well as China and Malaysia to his country. He also that these companies will continue their exploration efforts the town Kosti and the Blue Nile state in blocs 7 and 8.

The Sudanese state minister of Finance Abdulrahman Dirar said the agreement will contribute to improving the Sudanese pound exchange rate against foreign currencies.

He said that his country will work to employ the proceeds from the deal, according to current priorities to support productive sectors and infrastructure.

Sudan lost three-quarters of its oil production when South Sudan became independent , worsening an economic crisis as oil was the government’s main source of revenue, providing the cash flow to fund food imports and other basic items.

South Sudan VP on Four-day Visit to China
South Sudan vice-president James Wani Igga during his visit to
China June 28, 2014 (Larco Lomayat)
June 28, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s vice-president, James Wani Igga, is in Shanghai as part of a four-day visit to China, officials said on Friday.

The visit, although not officially announced, is considered part of the young nation’s efforts to strengthen its ties with Beijing.

China was among the countries that recognised South Sudan’s independence in July 2011, and has since maintained strong relations with the latter in its oil, construction and telecom sectors.

Last year, China agreed to help South Sudan develop a mining sector and also pledged to lend between $1bn and $2bn for the road, power and agriculture projects in the new nation.

Currently, the biggest investor in new nation’s oil industry, the Asian country has played a limited role in the ceasefire negotiations to resolve South Sudan’s crisis, in line with its policy of non-interference in domestic affairs.

In May, China reportedly agreed to send an infantry battalion 850 soldiers to reinforce the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. UN officials, however, said this was the first time China would be sending a combat unit to its peacekeeping operation, having previously provided logistical and protection units in Mali and Sudan’s Darfur region.

South Sudan Contests Country’s Ranking As World’s Most Failed State
South Sudan damage from fighting in Jonglei.
June 28, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan has expressed doubts over the political impartiality of international ranking institutions following the country’s inclusion on a list of failed states published on 24 June.

“Sometimes our people begin to wonder and question the credibility and the impartiality of these ranking institutions. They (people) do not understand which indicators do these institutions use and where exactly do they get their sources of information,” South Sudan’s deputy parliamentary speaker, Mark Nyipuoc, told Sudan Tribune on Saturday

“Sometimes you find these institutions relying on rumours in the media, without approaching the right institutions so that they are given the right information they want from the right institutions,” he added.

Nyipuoc is the first leading official from the governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) to react the report, which was released last week by the Fund for Peace, a Washington-based non-profit organisation that compiles the annual list based on the performance of countries around the world.

The young nation topped the list of fragile states, ending Somalia’s six-year rein at the top of the index, with fractious leadership, mass killings and ethnic violence cited as some of the factors contributing to the ranking.

The index is based on 12 key social, economic and political indicators, including demographic pressures, poverty and economic decline, human rights and political impasse.

In 2012, a year after gaining its independence from the north, South Sudan was ranked fourth in the Failed States Index (FSI), retaining its position in 2013, but with worsened scores.

The top six most fragile states were all in Africa, including Sudan at number five, with Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti and Pakistan rounding out the top 10.

However, Nyipuoc has argued that the ranking was unfair and does not take into consideration that the country is young and cannot be expected to be on the same par as countries which have had their independence for many years.

“You cannot use social indicators from the countries which have been independent for more than 50 years with a country which is just two years old,” he said. “It’s just like a two-year-old child, which cannot be expected to do things adult do. We are just starting from scratch … These countries that are mentioned in the reports have industries which support the economy of the country. They also have other sources of revenues,” he added.

Although South Sudan ranked at the top of this year’s index, it was only the sixth most-worsened country, with Central African Republic (CAR) named in the number one position.

South Sudan has been mired in violence since mid-December last year after escalating political tensions turned violent.

The conflict has killed thousands and displaced more than 1.3 million people, leading to warnings from international aid agencies that the country is facing a looming humanitarian catastrophe.

South Sudan Rebel Leader Appoints Heads of National Committees
Ousted South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar with Kenyan
President Uhuru Kenyatta.
June 28, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan’s former vice-president and leader of the rebel SPLM/A in Opposition, Riek Machar, has appointed the heads of various national committees to fill the structures of the armed opposition movement.

Machar said the appointments, a list of which he provided to Sudan Tribune, were made accordance with a consultative conference held by his faction in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on Saturday.

The appointments are expected to be made official after the former vice-president turned rebel leader selects his appointees for the remaining positions.

Former Unity state governor and chief rebel negotiator General Taban Deng Gai has been appointed as chairman of the national committee for peace and reconciliation.

Dhieu Mathok Diing was named chairman of the national committee for external relations, while the former head of political science at the University of Juba, Oyet Nathniel Pierino, was appointed to lead the national committee for political mobilisation.

Renowned lawyer and former national MP Richard K Mulla takes up the responsibility for justice and human rights, with Mabior Garang de Mabior, the son of late founding SPLM leader John Garang, appointed the chairman of the national committee for information and public relations and former deputy governor of Jonglei Hussein Mar Nyuot heading the committee for humanitarian affairs.

Other appointments included Gabriel Changson Chang for finance and resource mobilisation, Tijwok Hadhir Aguet for agriculture, Elizabeth Acuei Yol for health, Stephen Par Kuol for education and Banguot Amum Okiech, the sister of former SPLM secretary-general Pagan Amum, who will lead the committee for women and youth empowerment.

Ramadan Hassan Laku was assigned the role as chief coordinator in the office of the chairman

The office of the chairman is comprised of five strategic planning committees: the federal governance development unit, physical infrastructure development unit, public cooperation enterprise development unit, anti-corruption measures development unit and the SPLM basic documents development unit.

Former lawmaker Timothy Tot Chol will head up the federal governance development unit, with Machar yet to appoint heads for the remaining four units or positions in the military committee.

Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that the deputies and secretaries to the respective national committees, representatives of the movement in various countries and officials in the headquarters in the office of the chairman are also due to be appointed soon.

Dak said the appointment of the respective heads of the national committees was an important phase of the struggle.

“It is important for collective decision-making processes by the leadership in formulating draft policies for the resistance movement, as well as [the] future governance system in the country,” he said.

Dak said the committees would serve as the executive organ of the movement.

A rebel official in Addis Ababa told Sudan Tribune the committees were formed to meet the group’s obligations to civil populations in areas under its control with regard to social, political and administrative matters.

“We have to deliver services to our people who are in dire need of these services,” the official said.

“We want to put into use our ideas for change so that people of South Sudan can see us doing these things practically and not just theories,” he added.

Rebels have been engaged in a more than six-month-long struggle with the South Sudanese government since a split emerged in the ruling SPLM, led by president Salva Kiir, in mid-December last year.

The fighting has pitted government troops loyal to Kiir against rebel forces aligned with the former vice-president, largely comprising of dissident soldiers and ethnic militia from Machar’s Nuer tribe.

Peace talks between the rival factions were recently adjourned indefinitely and a tenuous ceasefire deal signed in January has failed to halt the violence.

Former South Sudan Political Detainee Joins Rebels
Ezekial Lol Gatkuoth (right) sits with his co-accused (from left)
Oyay Deng Ajak, Pagan Amum Okiech, Majok D’Agot Atem at their trial
for treason in Juba.
June 29, 2014 (JUBA) – A group of former South Sudanese political detainees announced on Saturday that one of their colleagues had joined the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Opposition under the leadership of former vice-president, Riek Machar.

Former justice minister John Luk Jok said the leadership of the former detainees held a meeting on Friday to approve ambassador Ezekial Lol Gatkuoth’s request to join Machar’s group.

“He (Gatkuoth) expressed his genuine desire to go and assist the SPLM/A [in Opposition] politically,” said a statement released by the former detainees and extended to Sudan Tribune.

Jok denied there were any division in the camp, saying the groups remains united and fully committed to the agenda of achieving peace, stability and democracy in South Sudan.

“There is no division ... The meeting unanimously endorsed the request of ambassador Ezekiel Lol Gatkouth to join [the] SPLM/A in Opposition since this is his individual wish at this critical juncture in which the people of South Sudan are yearning for peace and democratic change,” the statement adds.

Jok said the group held no ill-feelings towards Gatkouth and hoped that he would pursue the cause of their grievances in a manner consistent to their calls for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

“We trust that Ambassador Ezekiel will pursue the struggle for just peace, democracy and justice in South Sudan and add political value to [the] SPLM/A in Opposition,” said Jok.

“Having shared in the common experience of the struggle for independence of South Sudan and the fight against despotism, we can only wish him well in his new political endeavours,” he added.

The group of senior officials from the ruling SPLM were detained following the outbreak of violence in South Sudan in mid-December last year on charges related to an alleged coup plot to overthrow the government.

Seven members of the group of 11 were subsequently released on bail and left the country for Kenya after the country’s rival factions reached a ceasefire agreement in January, while the remaining four were freed in April after charges of treason were dropped and their trial was aborted.

The seven political figures went on to take part in peace negotiations being mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, participating as a separate bloc after deciding against allying themselves with Machar’s group.

ZANU-PF and the Social Media: A Dilemma Unfolding
The Zimbabwe Herald.
by Munyaradzi Huni Sunday, Jun 29, 2014
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

It’s not a secret that quite a number of Politburo members in Zanu-PF have up to now not mastered how to use a basic computer with jokes flying around that some can’t even move a computer mouse properly. Others still wonder what Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are all about.

But before pointing fingers at the Politburo members, it’s important to state here that the resistance to new technology and these digital platforms is not confined to these top politicians but is widespread even in newsrooms.

The country’s courts are now seized with the intriguing case of trying to unravel the Baba Jukwa mystery and so this matter is better left in the capable hands of our competent judiciary.

However, while the courts are grappling with the matter, it is clear that the New Media in general and the social media in particular have finally “arrived” to transform the political, social and economic landscape in Zimbabwe.

The floodgates of unprocessed communication have been opened through the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Viber, LinkedIn and the short message service (SMS) among many of the ever-changing media platforms that have shrunk the world.

As the judiciary gets down to work, Zanu-PF is faced with pertinent questions that are demanding immediate answers. Is the revolutionary party ready for the New Media?

Is this party that was formed way back in 1963 – during the typewriter days, ready for the revolution in Information Technology? Put simply – is Zanu-PF ready for the social media?

There are some professional and veteran journalists who have been overtaken by advancements in technology such that they have surrendered social media responsibilities to junior scribes who are fresh from college.

On the other hand, several companies, including media houses, are still vexed how they can effectively incorporate the new media into their systems.

For the traditional media in Zimbabwe (radio, television and newspapers) proper mechanisms to co-exist with the social media are still being experimented with time fast running out.

So we have luddites, not only in Zanu-PF but all over the country. A luddite, according to the Wikipedia, is a word derived from the 19th century English textile artisans who protested against newly developed labour-saving machinery from 1811 to 1817.

Over time, the word luddite has been used to describe those people opposed to, or slow to adopt or incorporate into their lifestyle, industrialisation, automation, computerisation or new technologies in general. Others prefer to use the term “Neo-Luddism” in reference to those opposed to technological progress for cultural or moral reasons.

It’s common these days to hear parents boasting that “I couldn’t do this or that on my phone or IPad but my son/daughter later helped me.”

They want to sound like parents who are proud of their children’s ability to use new technology but in actual fact all they are doing is hide their inability to adapt to new technology.

Indeed, the new media is upon us and there is no doubt that it’s going to be a game changer in many spheres of our lives. As for the ruling party, Zanu-PF, there is no choice but to embrace this new phenomenon or die. And the big question is – is Zanu-PF doing enough to adapt to the new media?

Among the “23 goals of the people that inform Zanu-PF policies” listed in its manifesto for the July 31 2013 elections, the party boldly states:
“The critical importance of fostering a patriotic youth as a national aspiration of the people is dramatised by the fact that – according to the 2012 population census – youths aged between 18 and 35 years and who are thus eligible to vote number up to 4,8 million. This represents 37 percent of the total population of 13 million and 61 percent of the 7,9 million Zimbabweans who are eligible to vote…”

The party went on to describe the youths as the “engine room within which future leaders” are groomed adding that the youths fall in the “age bracket which is preoccupied with finding its role and station in life”. Further the party noted that these new voters fell in the “age group that is most vulnerable to external political, cultural and information manipulation.”

From the above, it is encouraging to note that Zanu-PF acknowledges the importance of fostering patriotic youths but among the threats to achieving the goals of the people listed by the party in its manifesto, the social media is not mentioned.

Maybe this was done for strategic reasons but clearly, the social media posses a great threat to the fostering of patriotic youths because these platforms are enabling youths to access raw information easily and at no cost in some instances due to citizen journalism.  The party rightly noted that the youths are vulnerable to external manipulation and, all this is going to be done mainly through the social media which the Government has little control over.

While the focus on Information Communication Technology in the Zanu-PF manifesto focused mainly on expanding accessibility and utilisation to improve service delivery and accelerate economic growth, the issue is tackled extensively in the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset) under the Infrastructure and Utilities Cluster.

Under Information Communication Technology, the Government said it will focus on ICT governance whose sector outputs include revising ICT policy, developing an ICT bill and coming up with an Internet policy. The Government also said it will look into the ICT backbone and infrastructure whose sector outcomes include capacitating companies such as TelOne, NetOne and PowerTel and engaging the private sector leading to the creation of an ICT hub.

The Government further said it will roll out its E-Government plan and embark on extensive ICT research and development.

Clearly, Zanu-PF has an ICT policy in place that is supposed to be implemented by Government under Zim Asset, but developments on the ground are not very encouraging. It seems Zanu-PF has no proper structures and a passionate team dedicated to social media.

This, to an extent, can be attributed to the fact that Zanu-PF did not explicitly outline its social media thrust in the manifesto.

A quick check shows that Zanu-PF has an official twitter account – @Zanu-PF _Officials – which the last time it was active had 52 tweets, following 21 people with 1 528 followers. Worryingly, there are many fake Zanu-PF twitter accounts with one of the popular fake accounts – @Zanu_PF attracting 23 700 followers.

What this means unfortunately is that the official Zanu-PF account, due to inactivity, has been rendered ineffective while the fake accounts have become the source of distorted Zanu-PF information.

A further illustration that Zanu-PF seems not to be taking the social media seriously is its Facebook account which was started on July 5 2013 with 132 likes.

And hear this – this account was last updated on July 9 2013 when the party posted pictures of the popular “Bhora Mugedhi” following the launch of the manifesto. Just like on twitter, there are also several fake Zanu-PF Facebook accounts that churn out information that is against the ideology of the party.

As if this is not embarrassing and bad enough, the Zanu-PF website was last updated ages ago and still has the story “AU raps EU over Zim snub” as its lead story.

This is an old story from last year and surely if updating a website has become such a tall order, then we can’t even start talking about Twitter and Facebook.

It’s clear that Zanu-PF is treating the social media as platforms that are only activated during election time but this is suicidal in a country where according to POTRAZ, mobile penetration in 2012 was 85 percent and increased to 97 percent last year. POTRAZ also says in 2012, there were about 2,2 million Internet subscribers and the number has now increased to about 5 million.

While Zanu-PF is grappling with the new media, other politicians in Africa have taken the lead in utilising what now many are calling the Twittersphere. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan used the social media in 2011 to launch his presidential campaign while Rwandan leader Paul Kagame showed the potential of the social media through his tweets.

In May 2011, he took offence to remarks by British journalist Ian Birrell who had described him as “despotic and deluded” and for about an hour President Kagame responded with a series of tweets. Some say this was probably the first time that a head of state had directly engaged a journalist on Twitter.

In South Africa, the ANC is using the social media effectively after discovering that the opposition Democratic Alliance had taken the lead in deploying the social media in its political campaigns.

In Zimbabwe, Zanu-PF is fortunate that the opposition MDC has no clue on how to effectively use the social media but this naivety will not go on forever and the sooner the ruling party realises this, the better.

Efforts can be made to regulate the social media, but this won’t arrest the information avalanche. The courts will solve the Baba Jukwa puzzle, but the social media is not going anywhere.

Zanu-PF has to find ways of controlling the content and discussions on the social media. This can be done through populating these platforms and engaging trusted people who have a passion in using the new media.

The new media is going to be the battle front in 2018 – any political party that masters the art of using the social media effectively has brighter chances of winning the next elections.
Iraq Army Inflicts More Losses on ISIL Militants
Areas of the fighting in Iraq against ISIL.
Sun Jun 29, 2014 3:25AM GMT

The Iraqi army has continued its mop-up operations across the country, inflicting heavy losses on the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group.

On Saturday, Iraqi air force fighter jets destroyed a number of vehicles operated by the ISIL members and pounded their hideouts in the western province of al-Anbar.

A militant operation base was also destroyed during the offensive.

Elsewhere in Baghdad’s western suburb of Amriya, Iraqi government forces managed to disband a terrorist cell.

Iraqi source said the group intended to carry out acts of terror in the area during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Iraqi armed forces along with tribal groups from Diyala have started a massive operation against the ISIL terrorists in the region. The militants have reportedly escaped to a region close to Iran’s border.

On June 10, the Takfiri militants gained control of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Nineveh Province, which was followed by the fall of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of Baghdad.

Over the past days, Iraqi armed forces have been engaged in fierce clashes with the terrorists, who have threatened to take their acts of violence to other Iraqi cities, including the capital.

However, their advance was slowed down as Iraqi military forces and volunteer fighters have begun engaging them on several fronts, pushing the militants out of several areas they had earlier overrun, including the city of Tikrit, which was retaken by Iraqi forces on Saturday.
White House Behind Iraq Tensions: Iran Commander
Iran air defense drill.
Sat Jun 28, 2014 3:14PM GMT

A senior Iranian commander says the ongoing crisis in Iraq is an instance of US proxy wars in the Middle East, stressing that the Islamic Republic will firmly deal with any threat against the country.

Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri said on Saturday that the proxy wars in the Middle East are directed from the White House, adding that certain regional countries, including Saudi Arabia, are also complicit in this issue.

Jazayeri said the current tension in Iraq is the result of the overflow of terrorists from other parts of the region, including Syria, into the Arab country.

“The presence of militants in Iraq should be considered as a full-fledged plot devised by world powers and their lackeys, with the US leading these powers,” he added.

The commander stated that the issue of terrorism is directly related to the US government and is aimed at serving the interests of the Israeli regime.

He emphasized that the Islamic Republic will firmly counter terrorist groups and their sponsors in case of any threats against Iran.

Over the past days, heavy clashes have been underway between Iraqi armed forces and Takfiri militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group, who have threatened to spread their acts of violence to the capital Baghdad.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has blamed Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the growing terrorism in his country.
Iraq Receives Russian Fighter Jets
Russian fighter jets arrive in Iraq.
BBC World Service

Iraq says it has received the first batch of fighter jets it ordered from Russia to help it as it fights an offensive by Sunni rebels.

The defence ministry said five Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft would enter service in "three to four days".

The insurgents control large swathes of the north and west after a string of attacks over the past three weeks.

On Saturday, the government said it had retaken the northern city of Tikrit, but rebels dispute this.
State television said 60 militants had been killed and that preparations were now being made to move north towards rebel-held Mosul.

The rebels confirmed there had been heavy fighting in the city they took on 11 June, but implied the attack had failed, saying they were pursuing what was left of the army offensive.

US drones

Iraq's ministry of defence said the deal with Russia "was aimed at increasing the firepower of the air force and the rest of the armed forces in order to fight terrorism".

Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, told the BBC last week that his government had signed a deal with Russia and Belarus to supply jet fighters. The deals are reportedly worth up to $500m (£293m).

A Russian expert, quoted by news agency, said that six Sukhoi SU-30 jets had been sent to Iraq, but this has not yet been confirmed.

Iraq's air force has struggled to impose itself against the militants, led by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis). Reports say the air force has run out of certain air-to-ground missiles.

Iraqi military sources have said the offensive on Tikrit - the mainly Sunni hometown of former leader Saddam Hussein - is being co-ordinated with American military advisers.

However, although the US has confirmed it is flying armed drones in Iraq to protect US personnel on the ground, US officials say the 300 military personnel they sent to aid the government are not directly involved in the hostilities.

Meanwhile, Iraq's most influential Shia cleric has called for a prime minister to be appointed by Tuesday to try to defuse the country's political crisis.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said key positions should be agreed before the new parliament meets then. Pressure has been building for a national unity government.

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki wants a third term, though correspondents say he is seen by many as having precipitated the crisis through sectarian policies that have pushed Iraq's Sunni minority into the hands of Isis extremists.
Rally Calls For U.S. to Allow Somalia Money Transfers
Somalians demonstrate against Barclays Bank.
Scott Beedy, KARE 7:50 p.m. EDT June 27, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A renewed push is underway to allow wire transfers to Somalia.

Rep. Keith Ellison, along with members of the community, held a rally outside the U.S. Department of Treasury office in St. Paul on Friday.

The group is calling on lawmakers to change its policies so families in Somalia can receive money from relatives here in the states.

The government's biggest concern is that the money could wind up in the hands of terrorists.

"Because the real problem is that on the other end of the transaction, it's not easy to verify whose picking up the money," Ellison said.

He says he helped get a bill passed through the House of Representatives that addresses this issue, but it still needs to be approved by the Senate.
Al-Shabaab Fighters Raid Hotel In Central Somalia
Al-Shabaab resistance movement in Somalia.
By Reuters
June 26 2014 4:53 AM

(Reuters) - Islamist militants hurled grenades at the gate of a hotel in central Somalia on Thursday then opened fire as they burst into the building used by Somali soldiers and Djiboutian African Union peacekeepers, residents said.

Al Qaeda-linked group al Shabaab said it killed several guards and soldiers in the attack in town of Bulobarde, the movement's second assault on the hotel since March. The deaths could not be confirmed independently.

Shopkeeper Farah Nur told Reuters al Shabaab fighters started shooting once they burst inside. Other residents said they heard explosions and gunfire.

"We don't know of any casualties. The place is now surrounded by many AMISOM (the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia) and Somali forces," Nur said.

The militants, who seek to impose their own harsh version of Islamic law, control large areas of countryside and smaller towns. They have launched attacks at home and in the region, including a raid on a Kenyan shopping mall in September that killed at least 67 people

"Our well-armed Mujahideen ... entered Hotel Amalow in Bulobarde again. They are carrying out the operations, shootings," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's spokesman for military operation told Reuters.

"We killed several guards at the gate and then killed six Djibouti soldiers including two senior officials inside the hotel - the operation was successful and now it is over," he added.

Residents said two of the attackers had been shot dead.

"We were allowed to see two dead militants who were laid outside the hotel but we could not see the casualty of AMISOM and Somali forces. No civilian can enter the hotel," local elder Sabdow Ali told Reuters by phone.

Somalia's government is struggling to impose any sense of order more than two decades after the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre tipped the country into chaos.

In May, al Shabaab fighters attacked the parliament in Mogadishu, killing at least 10 security officers.
Kim Jong Un Guides Test-fire of Newly Developed Ultra-precision Tactical Guided Missiles
DPRK leader Kim Jong Un at rocket launching.
Pyongyang, June 27 (KCNA) -- Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, guided the test-fire of newly developed cutting- edge ultra-precision tactical guided missiles.

At the central monitoring post he acquainted himself with the tactical and technological information of the newly developed guided missiles before giving an order to test-fire them.

The moment the guided missiles soared into the sky with thunderous roar.

The test-fire clearly proved that the tactical guided weapons didn't have an inch of deviation in their scientific and technological performance.

They are another shining success made by scientists in the field of national defence and workers in the field of munitions industry in their efforts to implement the WPK's policy of manufacturing high-precision, lighter, automatic and intelligent weapons and equipment.

The test-fire helped the KPA get the master key to putting all strike means including short-, medium- and long-range guided weapons on ultra-precision basis of the world level and opened a prospect for maximizing their striking accuracy and power.

The successful test-fire at a time when the U.S. and the south Korean puppet regime and all other allied forces are going extremely reckless in the moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK and unleash a war of aggression marked a significant event in bolstering up the defence capability for self-defense.

This greatly encourages the service personnel and people of the DPRK.

Kim Jong Un expressed great satisfaction over the results of the test-fire.

Expressing belief that the officials and workers in the fields of national defence science and munitions industry would manufacture more ultra- precision tactical guided weapons capable of taking the decisive initiative in any operation and battle of the modern warfare through accurate preemptive strikes, always bearing in mind the expectations of the party and the people, he advanced new tasks to be fulfilled by the field of national defence science and technology.

He was accompanied by Hwang Pyong So, Pyon In Son, Pak Jong Chon and Hong Yong Chil.
U.S. War Moves Under Fire
Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) military parade.
Pyongyang, June 27 (KCNA) -- Cha Sang Bo, vice-chairman of the General Association of Koreans in China, issued a statement calling for shattering the moves of the U.S. imperialists for a nuclear war and driving U.S. forces out of south Korea.

Disasters and pain the Korean people suffered due to the Korean war for aggression ignited by the U.S. imperialists can neither be forgotten nor written off no matter how much water flows under the bridge and no matter how frequently a generation is replaced by a new generation, it said.

All the crimes committed by the U.S. imperialists in the three-year Korean war fully revealed that they are the chieftain of aggression and war and the sworn enemy of the Korean people, the statement said.

They, far from drawing a lesson from their heavy defeat in the Korean war, have persisted in the moves for a war for more than six decades since the ceasefire, it noted, and went on:

This being a hard reality, the U.S. is floating groundless lies that "the north first attacked south Korea to achieve reunification by communizing it" and "the north's nukes are becoming the most dangerous means threatening the world" just like the guilty party filing the suit first, bringing the danger of a nuclear war to the Korean peninsula.

All Koreans should turn out to resolutely shatter the U.S. moves for a war and have the long pent-up grudge settled.

The U.S. forces should pull out of south Korea unconditionally, taking with them all their war means.
Kim Il Sung Remembered in Different Countries
The founder of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea,
Kim Il Sung.
Pyongyang, June 27 (KCNA) -- Meetings to remember President Kim Il Sung took place in Romania and Kyrgyzstan, a lecture meeting and film shows in Nigeria between June 12 and 14 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of his demise.

Films shown included Korean films "Tower of the Juche Idea" and "Arch of Triumph".

The chairman of the Romanian Workers' Association said that Kim Il Sung was a genuine leader of the people and the benevolent father who founded the man-centered Juche idea for the first time in the history of human thought and solved all issues arising in the revolution and construction in the interests of the masses on the basis of it.

The noble exploits the President performed by creating an epoch-making miracle of defeating the U.S. and Japanese imperialists with his outstanding military war method and stratagem will be cherished in the hearts of not only the Korean people but also progressive mankind, he stressed.

The chairman of the Central Council of the People Unity-"Kyrgyz El" Republican Political Party said that Kim Il Sung devoted his all to the happiness of the people all his life.

The acting chairman of the Nigerian Group for Self-Reliance Studies said that the President made undying contributions to the cause of global independence, adding: The banner of independence which he held aloft has become a great motive force greatly encouraging the Korean people and progressive mankind today.
Benghazi Suspect Spirited Into U.S., Testing Obama's Bet on Civilian Justice
Attack on US compound in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.
By Cheyenne Hopkins - Jun 28, 2014

The legal case against the accused leader of the 2012 attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, began with him being spirited into Washington in darkness for a hearing hastily arranged on a Saturday afternoon.

Ahmed Abu Khatallah was flown by helicopter just before dawn from a Navy ship, according to a law enforcement official who requested anonymity to discuss the details. Amid heavy security, he was taken to a federal courthouse blocks from the U.S. Capitol, the official said.

As armed U.S. marshals patrolled outside, the unshackled Khatallah stood impassively as his court-appointed lawyer, Michelle Peterson, entered a not-guilty plea. He wore black sweatpants, a hooded sweatshirt and sandals, addressing the court through a translator when asked by U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola to give his name and say whether he understood the proceedings. It was over in less than 15 minutes.

It was the start of a case that will serve as a test of President Barack Obama’s commitment to the civilian prosecution of terrorism suspects. Throughout Obama’s tenure, Republicans have criticized the Democratic leader for relying on civilian courts for such cases, rather than military tribunals.

“Now that Ahmed Abu Khatallah has arrived in the United States, he will face the full weight of our justice system,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “We will prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant’s alleged role in the attack that killed four brave Americans in Benghazi.”

Hillary Clinton

Khatallah was captured in Libya on June 15 by a special U.S. military operation. Obama ruled out sending him to the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, reopening the debate over what to do with militants captured overseas.

The Republican-led U.S. House has conducted multiple investigations into security preparations in Libya and the Obama administration’s response to the violence, in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed. The questions loom as a campaign issue for Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the attack, if she decides to seek the presidency in 2016.

Charges were lodged against Khatallah in secret last year in a criminal complaint unsealed this month. The Justice Department today said it obtained an indictment of him June 26 on a charge of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists resulting in death.

Next Hearing

Khatallah could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted. He next faces a detention hearing July 2.

Killed in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Libya were U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, a State Department security official, and two Central Intelligence Agency contractors, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

The Justice Department has described Khatallah as a senior leader of Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi, a group “involved in terrorist attacks” and the assault on the U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi.

The State Department named him a “specially designated global terrorist” in January, placing him on a sanctions list to block his assets and prohibit U.S. persons from dealing with him.

Khatallah had been held since his capture on the USS New York, a ship partially made of steel from the World Trade Center towers that collapsed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Holder has said the U.S. is continuing to look for co-conspirators in the Benghazi case.

Past Cases

The civilian trial process for terrorists is complicated in part because witnesses often aren’t available, though it hasn’t prevented convictions.

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to go on trial in a U.S. civilian court. He was convicted in New York in 2010 and sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law was the most senior al-Qaeda member to be tried in a civilian court; he was convicted of aiding the group after its Sept. 11 attacks by helping its recruitment process and through speeches he made.

A federal jury in Manhattan found Sulaiman Abu Ghayth guilty of conspiring to kill U.S. nationals, scheming to provide material support to al-Qaeda and providing manpower through his recruiting efforts.

Republican Critic

Those pushing for Khatallah to be held at Guantanamo Bay have included Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and vocal critic of the administration’s foreign policy and its handling of the Benghazi attack.

“It would be the biggest mistake for the ages to read this guy his Miranda rights,” Graham said, referring to the right for U.S. criminal suspects to remain silent and be counseled by a lawyer.

Obama took office promising to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, which was set up by then-President George W. Bush following the Sept. 11 attack to hold detainees captured in the war on terrorism. There are about 150 suspected terrorists left at the prison, and Congress has put restrictions on Obama’s ability to release or transfer them to other countries.

The Republican-led House started investigating the Benghazi incident less than a month after it occurred, spotlighting the administration’s initial claim that it stemmed from “spontaneously inspired” demonstrations over an anti-Islamist video. Officials later backed off that claim, and said that attackers linked to terrorist groups stormed the diplomatic compound and set fire to it.

The case is U.S. v. Khatallah, 14-cr-00141, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Cheyenne Hopkins in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at; Andrew Dunn at Don Frederick.