Category Archives: War

Nigerian army says kills 150 insurgents, loses 16 troops


Violence in northeast Nigeria has intensified over the past two months, as the Islamists fight back against a military operation that president Goodluck Jonathan ordered in May to try to crush their four-year rebellion.
Army spokesman Brigadier General Ibrahim Attahiru said a series of raids carried out on Islamist camps in northeastern Borno state had pushed Boko Haram into hiding in a forest.

He said the army had received intelligence reports on September 12 that Boko Haram planned to launch an attack from the forest, adding that they were “well fortified with anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns mounted on vehicles”.

“Based on this report, our own troops launched a deliberate attack. Over 150 insurgents were killed and the formation lost an officer and 15 soldiers,” he said

A commander, Abba Goroma, was among those killed, he said. He was among 19 Boko Haram members who the army offered a total of 290 million naira ($1.8 million) for in late 2012 for information leading to their capture. He had a bounty of $62,000.

Attahiru was quoted in local newspapers on Wednesday as denying a story on Nigeria’s Premium Times website that Boko Haram had killed 40 soldiers in an ambush in the same area.

The Nigerian army often says it killed large numbers of insurgents in battles in which a much smaller number of its own troops died. It is impossible to independently verify the numbers, although witnesses often give higher figures for troop casualties than the official ones.

No witnesses were immediately contactable in the area.

FIGHT FOR ISLAMIC STATE

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sinful”, wants to revive an era of medieval Islamic kingdoms in religiously mixed Nigeria by creating a breakaway state that would follow strict sharia law.

It is seen as the gravest security threat to Africa’s top oil producer. Although their activities are located hundreds of miles away from its southern oil fields, they have bombed the capital Abuja at least three times, including a deadly attack on the United Nations’ Nigeria headquarters in 2011.

In a separate attack on Tuesday, Boko Haram gunmen killed at least 20 people travelling along a road heading south from Borno, witnesses told Reuters.

Militants wearing military uniforms but with no caps and non-military shoes stopped traffic on a highway between Maiduguri and Damaturu, witnesses said.

“Travellers were asked to produce their ID cards and then they were gathered in one place before being shot,” said truck driver who was let go and gave his name only as Hassan.

Another witness travelling the same road, Ibrahim, said: “I saw a lot of cars that were burnt in the bush … Some of the corpses I saw were wearing military and police uniform.”

An army spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Thousands of people have been killed since the shadowy sect launched its uprising against the state in 2009, transforming from a clerical movement opposed to Western culture to an armed insurrection with growing links to al Qaeda’s West African wing.

Surging violence in the northeast is unwelcome news for Jonathan, who is under intense political pressure due to a split in his party and from a recently formed opposition coalition.

He had been criticised for not quelling Boko Haram’s insurgency, which worsened under his leadership, and the state of emergency he declared in May was seen as last ditch attempt.

The military said last month Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau may have died in late July of wounds inflicted during a gun battle. If true, it has failed to end the violence.

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Third bomb is found outside Midlands mosque as counter-terrorism officers question Ukrainian students.


Bull Ring, Birmingham, England, featuring St M...
Bull Ring, Birmingham, England, featuring St Martin’s church (centre) and the silver Selfridges store. Photo taken by the West Midlands Police helicopter during routine operations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Wolverhampton Archives
Wolverhampton Archives (Photo credit: WAVE:Galleries, Museums, Archives of Wolverhampton)
Birmingham Mail Logo
Birmingham Mail Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
West Midlands Police
West Midlands Police (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Counter-terrorism officers have found evidence of a third bomb detonated near to a mosque in the West Midlands.
Wolverhampton Central Mosque on Dunstall Road, Wolverhampton, was evacuated last night after police received information that it may have been the target of a device activated three weeks ago.
Today, West Midlands police said they have found the ‘seat of an explosion’ and debris among trees and shrubbery in the roundabout opposite the mosque.
Early indications are that the device was detonated on June 28. It follows the arrest of two Ukranian men, aged 25 and 22, in connection with two separate bombings near mosques in Walsall and Tipton.

Tip off: Counter-terror police swooped on the area following the arrest of two Ukrainian men on suspicion of terror offences
The suspects are engineering students who have been in England on a summer placement, according to the Birmingham Mail.
No device was found inside Wolverhampton Central Mosque which has now been reopened for worshippers.
Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who is leading the investigation, said: ‘Officers searching the area have found the seat of an explosion and debris on the island near the mosque.
‘The investigation is being led by specialist officers and staff from our Counter Terrorism Unit who are being supported by a range of departments from across the force.
‘We recognise the impact news of the latest find will have on the communities of Wolverhampton and further afield. We’re working hard to complete our enquiries so that the area can be returned to normality.’
Meanwhile, the industrial unit which is the headquarters of software company Delcam continued to be a hive of activity with bomb disposal officers and members of West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit searching the premises where the two suspects were working on a university placement.
The company’s chief executive, Clive Martell, was at the scene today and confirmed comments he made, after police turned up unexpectedly at the site on Thursday.
Speaking in the Birmingham Mail yesterday, he said: ‘The two men were on work placements with us, but were not employees of the business.
‘They are studying at a foreign university and are engineering students.’
Mr Martell added that the two men were studying engineering degrees in a country in Eastern Europe.
‘One of the men has been with us for four months and the other has been with us for two months,” he said.
‘They were around halfway through the course and we understand that they met each other whilst on the placement.
‘This was completely unexpected and we are doing everything we possibly can to assist the police with their investigations.’
Officers descended on the large industrial unit at 3pm yesterday, and are expected to remain there for the rest of the day according to West Midlands Police.
Workers have been gathering outside since the morning, to collect cars and other belongings they had to leave behind when police arrived.
Local residents took to Twitter to express shock and fear at the continued targeting of mosques in the area, following the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby in May.
The soldier was stabbed to death near his Army barracks in Woolwich, south London.
A Twitter user under the name of Shez Khan said: ‘Dear me. Bomb planted INSIDE Wolverhampton Mosque! What has happened to people?!’
Another Twitter user called Salma said: ‘It’s so sad to see a mosque being under threat 😦 especially a mosque i spent my childhood in #WolverhamptonMosque’.
A person under the name of Amreet tweeted: ‘The first time I’ve heard Wolverhampton mentioned on the main news and it’s because someone has tried to bomb the Mosque, that’s so awful’.
Faizaan wrote: ‘ANOTHER device left outside a Mosque n (sic) Wolverhampton now! This is becoming ridiculous!!!!’
The two Ukranians are being questioned on suspicion of being involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism following blasts near the Aisha Mosque and Islamic Centre in the Caldmore area of Walsall last month and the Tipton mosque last Friday.
Residents were evacuated after the blast, near the Kanzul Iman Masjid in Tipton, left nails and debris scattered outside.
No-one was injured but some minor damage to property was reported. The bomb exploded just an hour after the funeral of Drummer Lee Rigby.
A small component part of the suspected nail bomb was found in a garden nearby and specialist Army disposal officers were called to the scene to carry out a controlled explosion.
The blast came after more than 100 residents were evacuated from their homes in the Caldmore area of Walsall last month after an explosion near the Aisha Mosque.
No-one was hurt in that blast, which caused minimal damage to a wall near the mosque in Rutter Street on the evening of June 21.
Although residents in the area heard a loud bang at the time of the explosion, the incident was not reported to the police until the following day when parts of the small home-made device were found by a worshipper at the mosque, sparking a major operation involving Army bomb disposal experts.
A 75-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the attack, but he was subsequently released without charge.

Syrian forces kill American, British citizen accused of fighting alongside rebels.


Coat of arms of Syria -- the "Hawk of Qur...
Coat of arms of Syria — the “Hawk of Qureish” with shield of vertical tricolor of the national flag, holding a scroll with the words الجمهورية العربية السورية (Al-Jumhuriyah al-`Arabiyah as-Suriyah “The Syrian Arab Republic”). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
CNN Center- Atlanta, GA
CNN Center- Atlanta, GA (Photo credit: hpstyles)
English: Former president Hafez al-Assad was o...
English: Former president Hafez al-Assad was on display everywhere, Maaloula – Syria. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Author - Ammar Abd Rabbo Source - http://flick...
Author – Ammar Abd Rabbo Source – http://flickr.com/photos/21499556@N04/2085667933/ License – Some rights reserved CC-BY-SA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text ...
Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text God protects Syria on the old city wall of Damascus 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Syrian state-run television reported Thursday that forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad killed three Westerners, including an American woman and a British citizen, who they claim were fighting with the rebels and were found with weapons.
Syrian TV identified the woman, releasing what it claimed were images of her Michigan driver’s license and U.S. passport. It also released what is said was the name and passport of a British citizen. It did not identify a third person who it claimed was a Westerner.
The report said the three were ambushed in their car in the flashpoint province of Idlib in northwestern Syria, where government forces have been battling rebels for control.
TV footage showed a bullet-riddled car and three bodies laid out. It also showed weapons, a computer, a hand-drawn map of a government military facility and a flag belonging to the al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front.
The United States is aware of the claim that an American woman was killed and is working through the Czech Republic mission in Syria to obtain more information, a State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNN.
Citing privacy concerns, “we are unable to comment further,” the official said.
A family member of the American woman told CNN on Thursday she was informed by the FBI about the death. The family member said the FBI did not provide any details about how the woman died.
CNN is not identifying the family member, who lives in Michigan, until next of kin notifications have been completed.
British officials in London did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.
Al-Nusra Front
If the Syrian state TV report is true, it will not be the first time an American has been accused of fighting with rebel groups to overthrow al-Assad.
In March, a former U.S. soldier was arrested and charged by the U.S. government with illegally using a weapon on behalf of the al-Nusra Front.
Eric Harroun, 30, of Phoenix, was arrested by the FBI after returning to the United States from Syria, where authorities allege he fought with the militant group. He was charged with the alleged use of a rocket-propelled grenade.
The organization he allegedly fought with, al-Nusra Front, is one of several aliases used by al Qaeda in Iraq. Al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for more than 600 attacks in Syria, the Justice Department said.
An FBI affidavit says Harroun crossed into Syria in January 2013 and fought against al-Assad’s forces. He posted photos and videos of himself on the Internet handling RPGs and other weapons, it said.
Harroun served with the U.S. Army from 2000 to 2003.
Troubled talks
The report by Syrian state TV came on the same day that a leader of Syria’s main rebel coalition said the group may not participate in a conference aimed at brokering an end to the civil war.
“It is difficult to continue when Syrians are constantly being hammered by the Assad regime with the help of outside forces,” said George Sabra, acting chairman of the National Coalition, in a statement.
He cited the siege of Qusayr and attacks on Eastern Gouta, a suburb of Damascus, as well as what he said was an “invasion” by Iranian militia members in support of al-Assad.
Russia, which supports Damascus, expressed its own reservations. Conditions on the peace talks demanded by the National Coalition are too restrictive, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters, state news agency ITAR-Tass reported.
“One has the impression that the National Coalition and its regional sponsors are doing their utmost in a bid to prevent the beginning of a political process and resort to all means, including brainwashing in the West, to induce military intervention,” Lavrov is quoted as saying. “We regard such approaches as impermissible.”
In addition, the coalition “is not the sole representative of the Syrian people,” Lavrov said. “The coalition has no constructive platform.”
The National Coalition has demanded that al-Assad step aside as a condition for its participation in the talks, which were originally scheduled to be held this month in Geneva, Switzerland, but have been delayed.
The Syrian government has insisted that any talks be held without preconditions and has said that al-Assad will finish his term and must be qualified to run again in the 2014 elections.
Fighting rages on
Some 3,000 to 4,000 Lebanese Hezbollah fighters have been deployed to Syria, where they are fighting alongside government forces, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the Foreign Affairs Committee of France’s National Assembly.
The Lebanese fighters have been involved in a battle for Qusayr, a town of about 20,000 that sits astride one route to the Syrian coast and another to the Lebanese border.
For the rebels, holding Qusayr represents a way of limiting the regime’s ability to sustain itself.
On Thursday, the media office of the Syrian Coalition in Istanbul, Turkey, said in an appeal for help that the number of wounded citizens in Qusayr had exceeded 1,000.
The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said the fighting was part of its mission “to pursue terrorists in Qusayr and its countryside.”
‘One axis’
In an interview broadcast Thursday night by the Hezbollah television station Al-Manar, al-Assad was quoted by Lebanese media as saying, “Syria and Hezbollah are one axis.”
Hezbollah forces “are in Lebanon and Syria, on the border area,” al-Assad said.
According to the pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar newspaper, he said, “There are groups of (Hezbollah) party fighters in the border areas with Lebanon. But the Syrian army is the one fighting and running battles against the armed groups, and will continue in this battle in order to eliminate” what he described as “terrorists.”
The president expressed skepticism that the talks proposed for Geneva would prove fruitful, the newspaper reported.
Al-Assad is further quoted as saying that “Syria received the first batch of the Russian S-300 missiles, antiaircraft systems” and that “the rest of the shipment will arrive soon.”
“The contracts are not related to the conflict,” he said. “We negotiate with them for various kinds of weapons for years. And Russia is fulfilling these contracts.”
Russia has been criticized by the West for reported sales of six S-300 air defense systems to Syria under a 2010 contract.
Moscow, however, has said such deliveries would conform with international law and has denied supplying Syria with weapons that can be used against civilians.