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US Army to build West Africa defenses against Jihad

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Kicking up clouds of pink Saharan dust, U.S. military trainers impersonated militants, waved flags saying “death to outsiders” and threw smoke grenades toward approaching Nigerien commandos this week, as a surveillance drone hovered overhead.

The joint military exercises between U.S.-led Western forces and several West African nations, dubbed “Flintlock”, have been going on since 2005. This year, however, they have focused more closely on the evolving threat posed by Islamist militants, whose mounting numbers and capabilities require an ever more sophisticated response, military commanders told Reuters.

“Flintlock … has over the years evolved,” Major General J. Marcus Hicks, who leads some 1,000 American special operations forces across about a dozen African countries, said.

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“What’s different this year is that we have intentionally focused on the developing threat situation in the Sahel and the ongoing challenges in the Lake Chad region,” he said.

Jihadist groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State are launching increasingly brazen attacks on U.N., Western and local forces and civilian targets across West Africa’s Sahel region, including a raid in western Niger last October that killed four U.S. Green Berets.

This year’s 14th instalment of Flintlock brought together about 1,900 special forces troops from 12 Western and eight African countries this month in Niger, whose porous borderlands with Mali and Burkina Faso along Africa’s vast Sahel have seen the biggest surge in attacks.

Similar exercises were conducted in Burkina Faso and Senegal.

“The Sahel is not an easy place,” Colonel Kassim Moussa of Chad’s special forces said at a military base in the western town of Ouallam, where Nigerien commandos in blue helmets and loose fitting uniforms braved the scorching midday sun to simulate raids on a jihadist camp.

“It has to be synchronised as they (the militants) go across borders very easily, very fluidly, so getting our partners to work together is a big driver,” trainer Colonel Craig Miller said at the exercise.

The militant threat has ballooned this decade with the emergence of Boko Haram’s insurgency in northern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, and the jihadist 2012 takeover of north Mali.

A French intervention in northern Mali in early 2013 helped beat back that threat, but the militants have regrouped, launching attacks in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and beyond.

Niger’s Defence Minister Kalla Moutari said at Friday’s closing ceremony that the officers had shown “their capacity to … lead aerial and land operations”.

Critics of Western nations’ policy in the region say they have overemphasized the military aspect of the threat at the expense of root causes that are swelling the militants’ ranks, including government rights abuses and inter-communal conflicts that lead some to align themselves with the jihadists.

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Source:”Reuters”

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President Museveni Orders Refund of Mobile Money ‘Error’ Tax in Uganda

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Yoweri Museveni
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President Yoweri Museveni has ordered the refunding of 1% percent mobile money tax paid by Ugandans.

In a statement issued on a social media platform , Museveni insists that the 1 per cent tax which he ordered to be reduced to 0.5 percent last week was passed in error and he signed the bill knowing it had an error.

The mobile money tax and social media tax which triggered massive outcry were effected at the start of 2018/19 financial year.

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“I signed the law with the error because we could not delay the other measures. However, parliament, when it reconvenes, will be requested to correct it. The ones whose deductions had been made on the basis of 1% should have their money reimbursed,” said Museveni.

Apart from salary earners and those who use banks, Museveni said the earnings of many other Ugandans are not known. He revealed that each day, $52 million moves around in the form of mobile money that translates into $19 billion a year.

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Egypt: 37 persons bag jail terms over illicit human organ trade

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For illegally trafficking in human organs, an Egyptian court has sentenced 37 people to prison terms ranging from three to 15 years.

The rulings which took place on Thursday in Cairo Criminal Court, reported by the state-run Al Ahram newspaper, sentenced six people to 15 years, 11 to seven years and 20 to three years while three people were acquitted.

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The sentences can be appealed.

An investigation found that doctors, medical workers and intermediaries were involved in multiple incidents of illicit organ transplants and harvesting of human organs.

The probe found that the defendants exploited poor Egyptians who sold their organs.

Egypt prohibits the sale of human organs under a 2010 law but some Egyptians, driven by poverty, offer to sell theirs to make ends meet.

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-The Washington Post

 

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