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A deadly Easter attack left 11 dead and 30 wounded after a disgruntled police officer drove his truck into a group of children in yet another Easter tragedy, this time in Gombe, Nigeria.

Earlier this month, Islamist militants massacred 17 Christians and injured eight in an attack on a church in Nasarawa state. The attack occurred during an infant dedication when armed militants opened fire in the church, killing the baby’s mother and several children.

These tragic events come just as the terrorist attack in Sri Lanka highlights the dangers that remain from asymmetric terrorism and violence against Christians in ethnically and religiously divided societies.

“There are some similarities between violence in Sri Lanka and Nigeria,” Professor Max Abrahms, a terrorism expert at Northeastern University, told Fox News. “Both have experienced substantial political violence which has traditionally been nationalist but has increasingly been infused with more narrowly religious-motivated extremist attacks.”

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Nigeria, often overlooked by U.S. policymakers usually more concerned with the Middle East, Russia and Europe, is home to one of the world’s most deadly Islamic terror groups.

The United Nations estimates that 1.7 million people are internally displaced from Boko Haram’s insurgency and the group has killed more than 15,200 people since 2011, according to some estimates.

The United Nations estimates that 1.7 million people are internally displaced from Boko Haram’s insurgency and the group has killed more than 15,200 people since 2011, according to some estimates. (YouTube)

Boko Haram is looking to transform Nigeria into an Islamic state based on Sharia law. The group also declared its allegiance to ISIS in 2015 with one branch called the Islamic State West African Province. U.S. intelligence estimates that Boko Haram commands between 4,000 and 6,000 dedicated militants who have attacked schools, burned down entire villages, and abducted hundreds of people in their brutal campaign of terror across Nigeria.

The United Nations estimates that 1.7 million people are internally displaced from Boko Haram’s insurgency and the group has killed more than 15,200 people since 2011, according to some estimates.

Although Nigerian security forces have made inroads in stemming the violence from Boko Haram, the insurgency remains a threat to Nigerians.

“The group, which has now split into two factions (one of which is recognized as a branch of the Islamic State) has been gaining momentum against Nigerian security forces — which have been hampered by corruption and low morale — and conducting increasingly deadly attacks in Northeastern states,” Thomas Abi Hanna, Global Security Analyst at Stratfor told Fox News.

Violence in Nigeria, and against Christians, has risen in recent months, with at least 280 people from Christian communities killed by Fulani militants throughout Nigeria between February and March 2019. It’s not clear to what extent the deadly violence is due to religious affiliations, but the uptick does highlight the growing concern within Nigeria’s Christian communities.

“Religion is not necessarily the primary driver of attacks on Christians though, as there are also ethnic, political, territorial disputes and other factors which contribute to these tensions,” Hanna explained. “Attacks related to any of these issues can feed into one another and exacerbate ongoing tensions across the board.”

Nigeria is divided between a Muslim majority north and a Christian majority south. Because of this religiously-based geographic separation, the country’s political parties formed an unwritten power-sharing agreement during the transition to democracy in 1999 that major offices, most notably the president and vice president, should rotate between the north and the south.

OFF-DUTY NIGERIAN POLICE OFFICER PLOWS INTO CROWD AT EASTER CELEBRATION, KILLING 8 AND INJURING 30

Abubakar Shekau, from a November 2018 propaganda video; he is understood to control one of the two factions of Boko Haram that split in 2016.

Abubakar Shekau, from a November 2018 propaganda video; he is understood to control one of the two factions of Boko Haram that split in 2016.

However, this arrangement can lead to heightened tensions as it did in 2009, when then-President Umaru Yar’Adua, a northern Muslim, died, allowing his southern Christian Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to become president. The north’s opportunity in power was cut short and the swap led to mass electoral violence with the death of 800 people once Jonathan was re-elected in 2011.

Nigeria is also one of Africa’s poorest countries, despite its vast natural resource wealth, making it ripe for terrorist and other insurgent groups to fill the vacuum left by a government that fails to meet the needs of its people.

Not only is Islamist terror a major concern for Nigerians, violence between herders and farmers has eclipsed the threat posed by Boko Haram and has killed more people than the Islamist insurgency while also increasing the north-south religious divide.

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“Christians have been targeted in attacks related to both of these ongoing conflicts which have killed and injured thousands, displaced hundreds of thousands, and become a major political issue,” Hanna said.

The conflict is intertwined with Nigeria’s underlying ethnic, religious, political and territorial disputes, as the herders are nomadic and from the Muslim north while the farmers are mainly Christians.

Deadly clashes over land and resources killed more than 2,000 people in 2018, according to a report by Amnesty International. A massive population boom in Nigeria along with the effects of climate change dried up grazing land, forcing herders and farmers into extremely close quarters with tensions rising due to resource scarcity.

The ongoing farmer-herdsman crisis has sharpened ethnic and religious tensions and increased political polarization in Nigeria. The Nigerian government and security forces have struggled to solve political disputes over land while the security forces have been unable to contain extremist violence.

A State Department spokesperson told Fox News: “In public and private messaging, we have urged the Nigerian government, and community and religious leaders, to work together for an immediate end to violence, the swift and voluntary return of members of displaced communities, and for perpetrators to be brought to justice.

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“U.S. Mission staff, including Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, have traveled to the affected states to engage with government officials, religious and traditional leaders, and civil society.”

Source: Fox News World

Italy’s government has written to the European Union asking it to prepare a plan of action to address the risk of a new wave of migrants escaping from the armed conflict in Libya.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero spoke on Wednesday at a joint news conference in Rome after meeting with the United Nation envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame. Moavero didn’t provide additional details on Italy’s request.

Italy’s anti-immigration Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has ordered that migrant rescue boats cannot enter Italian ports.

Salame downplayed Italy’s fears that a huge number of African refugees could leave Libya trying to reach Europe.

“We know that about 700,000 migrants are in our country now, but not even a minority of them wants to cross the Mediterranean,” Salame told journalists.

Source: Fox News World

Sudan’s ruling military council has proposed a meeting with the organizers of the protests that toppled President Omar al-Bashir after they suspended talks with the generals over the weekend.

The council says it is willing to discuss proposals from the coalition of groups behind the protests for an immediate transfer of power to a transitional civilian government.

The Sudanese Professionals Association and its allies, who organized the four months of demonstrations that drove al-Bashir from power on April 11, have not yet accepted the invitation to Wednesday’s meeting.

The military has said it is meeting with all political factions to discuss the transition. The protesters fear the military intends to hold onto power or leave much of al-Bashir’s regime intact.

Source: Fox News World

A Kenyan court has found British national Jermaine Grant guilty of possessing bomb-making materials.

Sentencing will be on May 9. Grant is already serving a nine-year sentence for forging immigration documents.

Grant is believed to be part of an al-Shabab-linked cell that planned multiple attacks over Christmas in 2011.

Authorities say cell members include Samantha Lewthwaite, widow of Jermaine Lindsay, one of the bombers who killed 52 people on London’s transport system on July 7, 2005.

Source: Fox News World

An Egyptian court has sentenced two monks to death for killing an abbot in a desert monastery north of Cairo last year.

The Damanhur Criminal Court, north of Cairo, announced the verdict Wednesday for two defrocked monks identified as Isaiah and Faltaous. They can appeal.

The two were convicted of killing of Bishop Epiphanius, an abbot at St. Macarius Monastery built in the 4th century, in July.

The abbot’s shocking death shook Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, one of the oldest in the world and the one that gave monasticism to the faith.

Following Epiphanius’ death, the church took measures aimed at instilling discipline into monastic life. Among them was a halt in admitting novices to monasteries nationwide for a year.

Source: Fox News World

The Latest on developments in Libya, where armed groups are battling for control of the capital, Tripoli (all times local):

3 p.m.

A top Russian diplomat has called on the self-styled Libyan National Army to cease fire and stop its advance on the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

Asked if Moscow is asking the LNA to stop the advance, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin told Russian news agencies on Wednesday that Moscow is asking it to cease fire and “restore a dialogue and political efforts” promoted by the United Nations.

Russia has maintained ties with the U.N.-recognized government in Tripoli and with Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, who leads the LNA and is at war with rival militias loosely allied with the government. Recently, Russia has seemed to favor Hifter. A top official in Hifter’s administration was visiting Moscow on Wednesday.

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12:15 p.m.

The U.N. says the fighting in Libya’s capital has reached a detention center holding hundreds of detained migrants and refugees.

Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, said Tuesday that the U.N. aid agency has received reports that the Qasr Ben Ghashir detention center, holding some 890 refugees and migrants, was “breached by armed actors.” The facility is 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) south of central Tripoli.

The U.N. says some 3,600 refugees and migrants are held in facilities near the front lines of fighting between the self-styled Libyan National Army and other heavily-armed militias.

Libya became a major conduit for African migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe after the uprising that toppled and killed Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Thousands have been detained by armed groups and smugglers.

Source: Fox News World

An international rights group says the referendum approved by Egyptian voters that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to extend his rule to 2030 was held in an “unfair and unfree” environment and has “no pretense to legitimacy.”

Human Rights Watch says the three-day vote, which concluded Monday, was “marred by serious flaws,” including reports of citizens being forced to vote or bribed with food and money.

Michael Page, the group’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, says el-Sissi, who has presided over a sweeping crackdown on dissent, “is re-creating the impoverished and repressive political environment that drove Egyptians to revolt against former President (Hosni) Mubarak in 2011.”

Authorities said Tuesday the amendments were approved by 88.83% of voters, with turnout of 44.33%.

Source: Fox News World

The fighting in Libya’s capital has reached a detention center holding hundreds of detained migrants and refugees, the U.N. said Tuesday.

Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, said the U.N. aid agency has received reports that the Qasr Ben Ghashir detention center, holding some 890 refugees and migrants, was “breached by armed actors.” The facility is 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) south of central Tripoli.

The U.N. says some 3,600 refugees and migrants are held in facilities near the front lines of fighting between the self-styled Libyan National Army and other heavily-armed militias. Five detention centers are in areas already engulfed by fighting, while six more are in close proximity to the clashes.

“The situation in these detention centres is increasingly desperate, with reports of guards abandoning their posts and leaving people trapped inside,” Dujarric said, adding that one facility has been without drinking water for days.

Libya became a major conduit for African migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe after the uprising that toppled and killed Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Thousands have been detained by armed groups and smugglers.

The latest fighting in Libya pits the LNA, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, against rival militias allied with a weak, U.N.-supported government. The World Health Organization says the fighting has killed more than 270 people, including civilians, and wounded nearly 1,300. It says more than 30,000 people have been displaced.

Source: Fox News World

Egypt says archaeologists have uncovered an ancient tomb with mummies believed to date back about 2,000 years in the southern city of Aswan.

The Antiquities Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the tomb is from the Greco-Roman period, which began with Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.

It is located near one of Aswan’s landmarks, the Mausoleum of Aga Khan, who lobbied for Muslim rights in India and who was buried there after his death in 1957.

The statement said archaeologists found artifacts, including decorated masks, statuettes, vases, coffin fragments and cartonnages — chunks of linen or papyrus glued together.

Egypt often announces new discoveries, hoping to spur the country’s tourism sector, which has suffered major setbacks during the turmoil following the 2011 uprising against autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Source: Fox News World

Egypt’s election commission says voters have approved constitutional amendments allowing President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to remain in power until 2030.

The referendum was widely seen as another step toward restoring authoritarian rule eight years after a pro-democracy uprising that toppled autocratic president Hosni Mubarak.

Lasheen Ibrahim, the head of the commission, said Tuesday the amendments were approved with 88.83% voting in favor. The turnout was 44.33% of eligible voters. The nationwide referendum took place over three days, from Saturday through Monday to maximize turnout.

Pro-government media, business people and lawmakers had pushed for a “Yes” vote and a high turnout, offering incentives while authorities threatened to fine anyone boycotting the three-day voting.

Authorities have waged a wide-scale crackdown on dissent since el-Sissi led the military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013.

Source: Fox News World


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