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Boko Haram resurging in Nigeria

International | The Islamic terror group has help from an ISIS offshoot
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 12/04/18, 02:01 pm

The Nigerian military said at least 39 soldiers died in multiple attacks in the North East last month as Boko Haram insurgents and extremists with the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) continued to stage daring attacks with new tactics.

The admission signals the government’s shift from claiming it defeated the extremist group to calls to “rise to the challenge” to keep fighting it.

In multiple attacks between Nov. 2 and Nov. 17 in Borno state, the insurgents killed 16 soldiers and injured 12 others. “Each of these incidents were successfully repelled, and several members of the terrorists were killed,” the Nigerian army said in a statement.

ISWAP, an offshoot of Boko Haram led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack on Nov. 18 that struck a military base in northeastern Borno state, killing 23 people and injuring 31 others.

Borno state is the birthplace of Boko Haram’s insurgency. The group started to lose the majority of its captured territory in 2015 when Nigerian forces staged a crackdown, but the militants still persist with sporadic attacks. On Sunday, ISWAP claimed it killed seven soldiers and injured dozens of others as it seized control of the town of Arege in Borno state.

Akinola Olojo, a senior researcher with the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, told me ISWAP has a “specific focus” on targeting security forces. The Nigerian army noted it witnessed more brazen attacks from the extremist groups in the past two to three months that included “increased use of drones against our defense positions and infusion of foreign fighters in their ranks.”

Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari also confirmed the escalation of fighting during a meeting Friday with regional leaders.

Olojo called the reports worrying, especially as Nigerian troops complain of poor conditions and outdated weapons. During a visit to Borno state last week, Buhari—who is running for reelection—promised to improve the security forces’ welfare and equipment. “I will do everything in my power to empower you,” he said.

Olojo said the resurgence should also point the Nigerian government to the urgent need for solutions that tackle the ideology and other factors that contribute to extremism.

Associated Press/Photo by Mark Schiefelbein Associated Press/Photo by Mark Schiefelbein A Google booth at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in April 2017 in Beijing

Google workers decry China-tailored search engine

Hundreds of Google employees voiced their opposition to the company’s plan to launch a censored search engine for China that will comply with the country’s strict regulations.

Hundreds of employees signed the open letter, published last week, which condemned the proposed Dragonfly search engine and said it could make the company complicit in China’s rights abuses. The workers said they were among thousands of staffers who opposed the search engine for months. So far, more than 700 employees had added their names and signatures to the letter.

Google designed Dragonfly to censor phrases related to human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protests, The Intercept reported. The search engine also will link users’ search records to their cellphone numbers and make the information accessible to Chinese security agencies. In a separate report in October, The Intercept said Google planned to launch the search engine between January and April of next year.

The letter from employees called on the company to cancel Dragonfly and commit to transparency and clear communication on the project: “Given the Chinese government’s reported suppression of dissident voices, such controls would likely be used to silence marginalized people and favor information that promotes government interests.”

Amnesty International staged protests outside Google offices in Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. —O.O. Dhampus, Nepal

Nepal deports Australian Christian

Nepal deported Katie Rachel Graham of Sydney, Australia, for door-to-door evangelism last week. According to authorities, the 35-year-old Christian woman was in Nepal on a student visa.

Officials arrested Graham with four Nepalese Christians on Nov. 12 in the town of Gularia, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

“She breached our immigration act, engaged in conversions, which is strictly prohibited under our laws,” Bishnu Hari Upadhyaya, director of the Nepal Department of Immigration, told the TV network. Nepal banned Graham from the country for five years.

Although the former Hindu monarchy is technically a secular nation with protected religious freedoms, Nepalese laws prohibit proselytizing and convincing someone to convert from Hinduism. In spite of those rules, it has one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world.

International Nepal Fellowship of Australia CEO Ben Thurley viewed Graham’s deportation as proof of a recent crackdown on Christians in Nepal but also a reminder for visitors to understand and abide by laws and immigration conditions, Eternity News reported.

“Arguably she breached that particular anti-conversion law,” Thurley said. “The issue for a Westerner doing it, though, also relates to somebody’s visa conditions, and if they’ve breached that law or are accused of breaching that law, they will have breached the conditions under which they’re in Nepal.” —Julia A. Seymour

Medical crisis in Gaza

Thousands of patients in the Gaza Strip are at risk of amputation or death as medical cases exceed the region’s capacity, a medical aid group said last week.

Between March 30 and Oct. 30, 5,866 patients received injuries from live gunfire during border protests, according to the Health Ministry. Doctors Without Borders (Medicins sans Frontiers, or MSF) treated 3,117 of the patients, the majority of them with gunshot wounds to their legs. The group said Gaza’s lack of proper equipment puts at least 25 percent of the patients with fractures at risk of infection. It also affects the provision of regular healthcare services in the region.

“This many patients would overstretch the best healthcare systems in the world,” said Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, MSF’s head of mission in Palestine. “In Gaza, it is a crushing blow.”

The Hamas militant group, which controls the Gaza Strip, called for the demonstrations to protest an Egyptian-backed blockade on the region. The border disputes turned violent as the militants launched rockets and mortars into Israel and Israeli forces responded with live fire and airstrikes. —O.O.

China eases American’s sentence

A Chinese court last week reduced the sentence of an American who faced a four-year prison sentence over his role in a bar fight. The San Francisco–based Dui Hua Foundation said authorities cut Wendell Brown’s sentence to three years. His new release date is set for Sept. 24, 2019.

Chinese authorities arrested Brown, a Detroit native, in September 2016 on charges of intentional assault. Brown said he only defended himself and denied hitting anyone at the bar. The court said he “didn’t do enough to de-escalate the situation,” Dui Hua stated.

Brown played football for Ball State University in Indiana and was teaching English and American football in southwest China at the time of his arrest. “While this is not the result we hoped for, it is nevertheless the best that can be achieved,” said John Kamm, Dui Hua’s executive director. —O.O.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

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  • zonie
    Posted: Fri, 12/07/2018 10:27 pm

    I remember Google's original motto: "Don't be evil."  That was a long, long time ago, and they have obviously done a U-turn on several fronts since then.  Now they can support eveil without compunction.  It's nice to know some employees still care.  Unfortunately, they're a small minority.