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Five dead in jihadist attack in central Mali

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A Tuareg-led group in Mali said Saturday five of its fighters were killed in an attack blamed on jihadists, a week after a national peace summit called for talks with militants in the country’s north.

“Our base in Gargando was attacked early Saturday by Islamist terrorists,” Oumar Ag Keling, a member of the Tuareg-led Congress for Justice in Azawad, said.

Gargando is a small town in central Mali located about 170km to the west of historic Timbuktu.

“They killed four of our fighters, as well as the village chief,” Keling said, adding that the jihadist rebels were “of many nationalities, according to the documents found at the scene”.

A Malian military official confirmed the deaths, saying that “it was terrorists from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb who were responsible for the attack, because the CJA was becoming a powerful force in the region”.

For more than a month, the CJA – formed in October 2016 to gain a bigger voice in the peace process for the Tuareg ethnic community of Kel Ansar, in Mali’s northwest – has opposed the installation of interim local authorities in Timbuktu, a central part of a peace deal signed in 2015.

The rebels signed the deal along with the government and pro-Bamako militias in the hopes of bringing stability to the north, the cradle of several Tuareg uprisings and a sanctuary for Islamist fighters.

Interim authorities will represent the inhabitants of Mali’s five northern regions until security improves so that local elections can be held.

The implementation of the peace accord however has been piecemeal and insurgents who refused to sign the deal are still active across large parts of the country.

Mali’s north fell under the control of jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012 who hijacked the rebel uprising, though the Islamists were largely ousted by a French-led military operation in January 2013.

In another attack, a member of a pro-government group was killed on Friday in the northeast village of Anefis, according to an international security source, but they could not identify the perpetrators.

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Nigeria: Boko Haram leader exposes rest Chibok girls whereabouts

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One of the arrested Boko Haram leaders and kidnappers of the Chibok schoolgirls, Mallam Mayinta Modu, alias Abor has revealed that each of them received N60,000 as ransom before they freed one batch of the abducted girls.

 Modu, who hails from Bama Local Government Area, Borno State had confessed to being one of the Boko Haram Commanders that coordinated and led the kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls in 2014, including several attacks on Bama, Gwoza and Mubi towns in Borno and Adamawa states.

This was following the arrest of 22 suspected Boko Haram members who participated in the kidnapping of the girls.

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 They were paraded at the Borno Police Command, Wednesday, by Deputy Commissioner-led Intelligence Response Team, IRT, of the IGP, Ibrahim Idris.Modu revealed that one Mallam Chingori, is in custody of the remaining Chibok girls at Gulumba village of Bama Council Area following the recent bombardment of the forest by troops.

Upon interrogation, he said: “I cannot ascertain the number of people I slaughtered or killed before my arrest. All I can say is that as a member of the sect and with the roles I played in the course of our fighting against infidels, government and security agencies, I was promoted as one of the sub-commanders.

“I actively participated and coordinated the kidnapping of over 200 Chibok schoolgirls in April, 2014.

“After we abducted the girls, we separated them and put them in different locations in Sambisa Forest under the care of our top commanders.

“The name of my top Commander is Mallam Chingori. He kept some of the girls in his custody in Sambisa hideout before relocating to Gulumba village of Bama Council Area following the recent bombardment of the forest by troops.

“At a point, when we released some of the girls, we were given N60,000 each for escorting the girls to one undisclosed location, before we went back to base, Sambisa.

“I may not know whether our Commander who gave us the ransom money also took his share of the money; all I can say is that we were many that collected such amount.

“As it is, the remaining girls are in the custody of our top Commander (Chingori) who later relocated from Sambisa to Gulumba village of Bama town.”

Modu could, however, not state who paid the ransom, but admitted that some of the girls were still in the custody of the sect in different locations in the forest.

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Egypt: Human rights activists criticises new social media law

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Human rights activists have criticised the adoption of a new law that gives the state powers to block social media accounts and penalise journalists held to be publishing fake news.

Under the law passed on Monday, social media accounts and blogs with more than 5,000 followers on sites such as Twitter and Facebook will be treated as media outlets, which makes them subject to prosecution for publishing false news or incitement to break the law.

The Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media, headed by an official appointed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, will supervise the law and take action against violations.

The bill prohibits the establishment of websites without obtaining a license from the Supreme Council and allows it to suspend or block existing websites, or impose fines on editors.

The law, which takes effect after it is ratified by Sisi, also states that journalists can only film in places that are not prohibited, but does not explain further.

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