Nigeria: Cooperation ‘key’ to defeating militants

British Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster, center, poses for a photograph with Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, right, and Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, during his visit to headquarters, in Maiduguri, Borno State in northcentral Nigeria, on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 07 October 2017
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Nigeria: Cooperation ‘key’ to defeating militants

MAIDUGURI: Greater international cooperation is required to defeat Boko Haram and neutralize the threat from the militants in Nigeria and beyond, military commanders and politicians said this week.
The militants, who are allied to Daesh, have destroyed swathes of remote northeast Nigeria since 2009, killing at least 20,000 people and forcing more than 2.6 million from their homes.
Counter-insurgency operations since early 2015 have pushed them out of captured towns and villages to the point where the government in Abuja now believes they are a spent force.
But with deadly attacks still a regular occurrence, Nigeria’s highest-ranking army officer said a “collective effort” was needed to counter its guerilla tactics — and those of similar groups who have wreaked havoc elsewhere around the world.
“We understand the challenges across the spectrum of asymmetric warfare,” Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai said on Wednesday at the headquarters of operations against the militants in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.
“This... is a global phenomenon. We must work in synergy to make sure that the terrorism that has been affecting not only here and in the sub-region (of West Africa) but indeed globally” is ended, he added.
A regional force comprising troops from Nigeria and its neighbors Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin, has helped push Boko Haram out of captured territory since early 2015.
But Western nations have largely held back from more direct involvement in the conflict, including sales of weapons and equipment because of the Nigerian army’s poor human rights record.
US, British, French and German soldiers, among others, are currently present in a “non-lethal” advisory and support roles, in areas from providing Nigerian troops with intelligence and infantry training to tackling the threat from improvised explosive devices.
Senior commanders on the ground say the goal now is to develop the Nigerian Army’s skills so people can return to their homes and begin rebuilding their lives.
President Muhammadu Buhari and his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan have said the refusal of Western government to sell the Nigerian military hardware has hampered its efforts to tackle Boko Haram. A $600 million deal with the US for 12 fighter aircraft was held up after more than 100 civilians were killed in an airstrike in January this year.
Nigeria said this week the purchase had finally been approved.
Britain’s Foreign Minister Boris Johnson also said last month that a request for further equipment was being considered.
London’s minister in charge of armed forces, Mark Lancaster, who reviewed British Army support programs across northern Nigeria this week, said “the real key” to improvement was proper basic training, including in human rights.
The presence of foreign nations was “a genuine recognition that the problems we face here in Nigeria are not just Nigeria’s problems in the northeast,” he told AFP.
“Not only are they cross-border within the region but of course this is an international problem with an international solution.”


Indonesia oil well explosion death toll climbs to 21

Updated 26 April 2018
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Indonesia oil well explosion death toll climbs to 21

  • An oil spill sparked a huge fire that shot up some 70 meters in the air, above homes and palm trees in a residential area on Sumatra island’s Aceh province
  • The latest toll was more than double an initial count of 10 as more victims succumbed to their injuries in hospital following the accident early Wednesday morning

PEUREULAK: The death toll from an oil well explosion in Indonesia has climbed to 21, with dozens of others in hospital, authorities said Thursday, as they extinguished the towering blaze.
The latest toll was more than double an initial count of 10 as more victims succumbed to their injuries in hospital following the accident early Wednesday morning.
An oil spill sparked a huge fire that shot up some 70 meters (230 feet) in the air, above homes and palm trees in a residential area on Sumatra island’s Aceh province.
Several houses were also destroyed in the explosion in the village of Peureulak until authorities finally managed to snuff out the blaze.
“The fire has been extinguished now.... We are still monitoring the injured and the situation at the accident,” said Henny Nurmayani, an official at Aceh’s disaster mitigation agency.
Three dozen victims remain in hospital, she added.
The victims were collecting oil from around the entrance of the illegal old well bore when the fire erupted, police said.
Authorities are still investigating the accident, but suggested a lit cigarette as a possible cause.
“There were many people there who were smoking,” national police spokesman Setyo Wasisto said earlier.
“It’s a village, so many were scrambling to get oil and it was crowded.”
East Aceh is dotted with numerous small-scale oil drilling operations, which are often run illegally by local villagers.
There are reportedly tens of thousands of such wells across the Indonesian archipelago.
Abandoned oil wells are sometimes re-tapped while locals also drill into fresh sites to find new sources.
Deadly fires are not uncommon in Indonesia, a sprawling country of more than 260 million people where safety regulations are often flouted.
In October 47 people died after a blaze tore through a fireworks factory outside Jakarta.