Boko Haram raid killed nine Nigerian soldiers

A Nigerian police officer blocks mothers of girls kidnapped by Boko Haram from marching on the Presidential Villa in Abuja. (AFP)
Updated 21 April 2017
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Boko Haram raid killed nine Nigerian soldiers

Kano, Nigeria: Nine Nigerian soldiers were killed and 14 others are missing feared abducted after an attack this week by suspected Boko Haram jihadists in the violence-torn northeast, security sources said Thursday.
Authorities had on Tuesday said five soldiers were killed and five others injured in the raid on a military post near the village of Sabon Garin Kimba about 140 kilometers (90 miles) from Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram.
“The number of fatalities on our side has risen to nine with the discovery of four more bodies of our troops,” said a military officer with knowledge of the incident.
“Since the attack 14 other soldiers remain missing. Their fate is unknown,” said the officer who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak on the incident.
Scores of fighters loyal to the Boko Haram faction headed by Abu Musab Al-Barnawi stormed the checkpoint late Monday.
The Daesh group last year appointed Al-Barnawi as head of Boko Haram, replacing long-time leader Abubakar Shekau.
Mustapha Karimbe, a member of an anti-Boko Haram militia, said he feared the missing soldiers had been seized.
“Fourteen soldiers are unaccounted for, they have been missing since the attack and the fear is that they have have been abducted by the terrorists,” Karimbe said.
The jihadists carrying heavy weapons engaged troops at the checkpoint in a shootout and forced the soldiers to withdraw. Karimbe said the jihadists took military vehicles and burned three armored cars along with makeshift sheds.
This was the second attack on the same military checkpoint in under a month.
Late last month, jihadists dressed in Nigerian military uniforms attacked the checkpoint and forced soldiers to withdraw before looting food and medical supplies from the village.
Boko Haram has in recent weeks intensified attacks on military targets in the northeast.
The insurgency began in northeast Nigeria and has spread to Chad, Cameroon and Niger, claiming more than 20,000 lives and displacing 2.6 million people.


Trump's missile treaty pullout could escalate tension with China

Updated 23 October 2018
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Trump's missile treaty pullout could escalate tension with China

  • Trump earlier said US will pullout from a Cold War-era treaty with Russia on nuclear arms
  • China was not party to the treaty and has been fielding new and more deadly missile forces

WASHINGTON: A US withdrawal from a Cold War-era nuclear arms treaty with Russia could give the Pentagon new options to counter Chinese missile advances but experts warn the ensuing arms race could greatly escalate tensions in the Asia-Pacific.
US officials have been warning for years that the United States was being put at a disadvantage by China's development of increasingly sophisticated land-based missile forces, which the Pentagon could not match thanks to the US treaty with Russia.
President Donald Trump has signaled he may soon give the Pentagon a freer hand to confront those advances, if he makes good on threats to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which required elimination of short- and intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles.
Dan Blumenthal, a former Pentagon official now at the American Enterprise Institute, said a treaty pullout could pave the way for the United States to field easier-to-hide, road-mobile conventional missiles in places like Guam and Japan.
That would make it harder for China to consider a conventional first strike against US ships and bases in the region. It could also force Beijing into a costly arms race, forcing China to spend more on missile defenses.
"It will change the picture fundamentally," Blumenthal said.
Even as Trump has blamed Russian violations of the treaty for his decision, he has also pointed a finger at China. Beijing was not party to the INF treaty and has been fielding new and more deadly missile forces.
These include China's DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), which has a maximum range of 4,000 km (2,500 miles) and which the Pentagon says can threaten US land and sea-based forces as far away as the Pacific island of Guam. It was first fielded in 2016.
"If Russia is doing it (developing these missiles) and China is doing it and we're adhering to the agreement, that's unacceptable," Trump said on Sunday.
John Bolton, White House national security advisor, noted that recent Chinese statements suggest it wanted Washington to stay in the treaty.
"And that's perfectly understandable. If I were Chinese, I would say the same thing," he told the Echo Moskvy radio station. "Why not have the Americans bound, and the Chinese not bound?"
Growing threat
US officials have so far relied on other capabilities as a counter-balance to China, like missiles fired from US ships or aircraft. But advocates for a US land-based missile response say that is the best way to deter Chinese use of its muscular land-based missile forces.
Kelly Magsamen, who helped craft the Pentagon's Asian policy under the Obama administration, said China's ability to work outside of the INF treaty had vexed policymakers in Washington, long before Trump came into office.
But she cautioned that any new US policy guiding missile deployments in Asia would need to be carefully coordinated with allies, something that does not appear to have happened yet.
Mismanagement of expectations surrounding a US treaty pullout could also unsettle security in the Asia-Pacific, she cautioned.
"It's potentially destabilizing," she said.
Experts warn that China would put pressure on countries in the region to refuse US requests to position missiles there.
Abraham Denmark, a former senior Pentagon official under Obama, said Guam, Japan and even Australia were possible locations for US missile deployments.
"But there are a lot of alliance questions that appear at first glance to be very tricky," he cautioned.
Still, current and former US officials say Washington is right to focus on China's missile threat. Harry Harris, who led US military forces in the Pacific before becoming US ambassador to Seoul, said earlier this year that the United States was at a disadvantage.
"We have no ground-based (missile) capability that can threaten China because of, among other things, our rigid adherence ... to the treaty," Harris told a Senate hearing in March, without calling for the treaty to be scrapped.
Asked about Trump's comments, China's foreign ministry said a unilateral US withdrawal would have a negative impact and urged the United States to "think thrice before acting."
"Talking about China on the issue of unilaterally pulling out of the treaty is completely mistaken," spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.