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Militants in Mali sustain attacks on counter-terror forces

After its Friday suicide attack on the Mali headquarters of a regional Sahel force known as G5, militants in Mali on Sunday rammed a bomb-laden car into a patrol convoy carrying soldiers belonging to the French counter-terror force Barkhane in the northern Malian city of Gao, killing at least two civilians, officials said

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After its Friday suicide attack on the Mali headquarters of a regional Sahel force known as G5, militants in Mali on Sunday rammed a bomb-laden car into a patrol convoy carrying soldiers belonging to the French counter-terror force Barkhane in the northern Malian city of Gao, killing at least two civilians, officials said.

The Friday attack killed two soldiers and a civilian.

The Malian defence ministry said at least two civilians were killed in the attack near the northern exit of the city.

About a dozen people, including both civilians and soldiers, were wounded, the ministry added.

The ministry had initially said that French soldiers were among the dead, but they later revised that statement. A French army spokesman confirmed that a patrol of around 30 soldiers had come under attack in Gao on Sunday and that there were a number of civilians killed, but would not immediately give more details.

“There are several injured among the French soldiers who were travelling in two vehicles and which were completely destroyed in the explosion. Their base has been evacuated.”

France began a military intervention in Mali in January 2013 to drive out al Qaeda-linked militants who hijacked a rebellion in 2012 by ethnic Tuaregs and attempted to take control of the central government in Bamako.

Politics

UN appoints Nigeria’s Ahonsi as its Türkiye resident coordinator

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Babatunde Ahonsi of Nigeria has been appointed as the United Nations resident coordinator in Türkiye, pending the approval of his host government.

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, announced the appointment of the decades-long experienced diplomat on Saturday.

Ahonsi has experience in international development acquired within and outside the UN, among which was his role as Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone where he coordinated and facilitated the UN’s operational activities for development in the country.

“He has led the UN country team and ensured system-wide accountability on the ground for the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework.

“He has also coordinated UN support to Sierra Leone in its implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the UN Secretary General’s Prevention Agenda.

“Prior to this, he served UN Resident Coordinator a.i. in China from June-September 2020.

“In addition, he served as UNFPA Representative in China/Country Director for Mongolia from January 2017 to June 2020, and as UNFPA Representative in Ghana from 2014-2016.

“Between 1997 and 2014, he held senior management positions with the Ford Foundation (covering West Africa) and Population Council (covering Nigeria) overseeing reproductive health, women’s empowerment, and youth development programmes and initiatives. He had also lectured at federal universities in Ilorin, Calabar, and Lagos, Nigeria during the 1980s and 1990s”, the UN said.

Since joining the UN in October 1960, Nigeria and Nigerians have played key roles in the global body. In 2013, Nigeria contributed the fifth largest number of peacekeepers to the United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Nigeria most recently had a temporary seat on the UN Security Council for two years, from 2014 to 2015.

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Politics

UN Security Council lifts 30-year-old arms ban on Somalia 

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The UN Security Council (UNSC) has ended 31 years of armed restrictions on Somalia’s government forces, which prevented the country from upgrading its military.

The lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia allows the country to freely buy new weapons, as the council in New York voted 14-1 to do so, with France abstaining. Restrictions on the transfer of weapons or supplies to terrorists affiliated with Al Shabaab remain.

According to the council, the federal government may order and buy weapons from any legitimate retailer in the world. However, for the UN Sanctions Committee on Somalia to verify the weapons, it must provide a list of them.

A member of the council, China, faulted this conditional approval, telling the session that Somalia was being made to comply with a rule that many in the West were disobeying.

Somalia has been constrained by this UN decision amidst the country’s quest for lasting peace in the face of internal wranglings and terrorist activities. In September, Somalia asked the UN to pause a planned drawdown of 3,000 African Union peacekeepers for three months to allow its security forces time to regroup after a militant attack forced them to withdraw from several recently captured towns.

Somalia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Abukar Osman, who addressed the Council, commended the move and noted that the lifting of the embargo would enable his government to equip the forces.

“It allows us to confront security threats, including those posed by Al Shabaab,” he said in a briefing to the Council, promising that his country would also reform the management of weapons to ensure they did not fall in the wrong hands.

In his official reaction, Somalia’s President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, stressed that “from now on, our country is free to purchase any sort of weapon we want from the world. Weapons in government hands will not pose a threat to our people and the world”.

“This decision comes at a very crucial time as a nation and people since we are in a war to eliminate Kharijites (Al Shabaab) from the country,” the National Intelligence and Security Agency said in a statement.

“It comes at a time when efforts are ongoing to form an army capable of taking on the general security responsibility of the country”, it added.

In January 1992, the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Somalia. In February 2007, the embargo was amended to allow arms supplies to Somali Government Forces, but maintained a ban on sales to the country’s Islamist militants.

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