Category Archives: African Conflict

US Embassy warns of ‘Imminent Attack’ in Tripoli

27 March 2019 Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep!

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The US Embassy in Libya warned Saturday of an “imminent” attack in the capital Tripoli.

In a statement on its website, the embassy said the attack would target a vital national institution in the Libyan capital, without giving further details.

Citing open source reports, the embassy said the area of the Central Post Office on Zawiyah Street in central Tripoli was cordoned off after possible improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were discovered.

But the Libyan Interior Ministry quickly denied the discovery of IEDs in central Tripoli.  In a statement, the ministry said it had seized suspicious packages in the post office.

“Initial reports, however, suggested that there were no IEDs or explosives inside these packages,” it added.

The US Embassy in Libya is currently operating from neighbouring Tunisia.

Libya has remained beset by violence turmoil since 2011, when a NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of President Muammar Gaddafi after four decades in power.

Since then, Libya’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power – one in Al-Bayda and another in Tripoli – along with a host of heavily-armed militia groups.

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The top 10 crises the world should be watching for 2019

The International Rescue Committee’s emergency response experts have ranked the countries most at risk of humanitarian catastrophe next year. While there are 21 countries on the list, we’ll break down the top 10, which account for approximately half of the internally displaced people and two-thirds of refugees across the globe.

“2018 was a devastating year for millions around the world, with more people displaced from their homes than ever before,” said Bob Kitchen, the IRC’s Vice President for Emergencies. “In many of the world’s most challenging places, armed conflict and man-made crisis mean life will get worse and not better in 2019.”

These are the top 10 countries experiencing—or on the brink of—the worst humanitarian crises in the world.

10. Somalia

A young boy lies on a cot in the Mogadishu hospital where he is being treated for malnutrition
Photo: Will Swanson/IRC

Somalia has been plagued by ongoing conflict for decades. Precipitated by instability and insecurity, and combined with persistent natural disasters, the crisis has left over 2.6 million Somalis internally displaced and 870,000 registered as refugees. 

Outlook for 2019: Somalia will likely remain unstable, conflict-affected and food-insecure throughout 2019. While a major Al-Shabab resurgence is unlikely, people will continue to be uprooted from their homes due to ongoing conflict.

9. Ethiopia

Aman Yassin, 12, waits at a water point to fill his jerrycans
Photo: Mulugeta Ayene/IRC

Ethiopia is experiencing increased internal conflict, which saw 1.4 million people displaced internally in the first half of 2018 — more than in any other country. This has been intensified by tensions between regional political and ethnic groups since new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office and started to introduce reform.

Outlook for 2019: Politics will remain volatile with a high likelihood of further conflict along ethnic lines, sparking major displacements and food insecurity, which will be compounded if poor rain and harvests continue.

8. Nigeria

Girls inside  a classroom in Maiduguri, Nigeria
Photo: Kellie Ryan/IRC

During 2018, Nigeria has experienced persistent attacks from armed groups as well as communal violence exacerbated by competition for water and land resources. As a result, Over 2 million Nigerians have been displaced internally and 230,000 have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

Outlook for 2019: Violence could intensify, triggering more displacements and exacerbating food insecurity for millions of Nigerians. The presidential election in February 2019 may also have a destabilizing impact and could spark greater conflict, leading to further displacement.

7. Syria

A family huddles in the dark in their basement shelter in East Ghouta, Syria
Photo: Abdullah Hammam/IRC

Syria has been plagued by armed conflict since protests against the government erupted in 2011. Since then, much of Syria has been shattered by the war, with health and education services collapsing. 6.2 million Syrians remain internally displaced and 5.6 million are registered as refugees in the region. 

Outlook for 2019: Northwest Syria remains at risk of major displacements and further destruction of infrastructure in 2019, as conflict persists. Civilians may be vulnerable to airstrikes and have few options of places to flee to.

6. Central African Republic

An IRC health worker examines a young child suffering from malnutrition as people return to their village after fleeing fighting. 
Photo: David Belluz/IRC

The Central African Republic (CAR) has experienced persistent instability since armed groups overthrew the government in 2013, exacerbating the situation in a country that was already under-developed. Despite efforts to bring armed groups into dialogue, many civilians remain at their mercy. Over 550,000 people also face emergency levels of food insecurity.

Outlook for 2019: Conflicts resulting in further displacement and food insecurity are likely to persist in CAR. With an already vulnerable population, even relatively minor conflicts or natural events will have major humanitarian implications threatening lives.

5. Venezuela

A young family who fled Venezuela
Photo: Iris Ebert/IRC

Economic collapse in Venezuela has driven at least 3 million people from the country, largely because they can no longer afford to feed their families. It has also led to a rapid rise in criminality and violence and a collapse of the health system, contributing to the spread of diseases like measles and diphtheria. 

Outlook for 2019: Venezuela’s economic crisis is only likely to worsen in 2019. Unless the government shifts direction radically and introduces economic reforms, diseases will continue to spread and people will be without food and forced to flee the country.

4. Afghanistan

Zainab, 23, in a tent with her two children
Photo: Haseeb Khalid/IRC

Afghanistan has seen persistent conflict since 2001. Once on the brink of defeat, the Taliban has been steadily advancing since 2014. This conflict, paired with chronic drought, has led to widespread displacement and food insecurity. Complicating matters, 2018 saw over half a million Afghan refugees return from Iran, many of them forcibly.

Outlook for 2019: Presidential elections due in April 2019 will coincide with the start of the spring fighting season, and are likely to prompt increased Taliban violence. Conflict-driven displacements will increase. The number of people facing food insecurity is also expected to rise due to continued violence and fallout from a 2017-2018 drought.

3. South Sudan

A child has their measurements taken in IRC's malnutrition stabilization center in Panthou, South Sudan.
Photo: Charles Lomodong/IRC

South Sudan has been in the grip of civil war since it gained independence in 2012, which has seen an estimated 380,000 casualties. While conflict has reduced due to a fragile peace agreement, violence persists throughout the country, leading to 1.96 million people displaced internally, 2.47 million refugees, and 6.1 million people facing crisis levels of food insecurity or worse.

Outlook for 2019: Even without an escalation in fighting, a significant proportion of South Sudanese will struggle to get enough food. If the peace deal holds, localized conflict will likely continue to displace tens of thousands of civilians, given the threats to their safety from the activities of armed groups. A collapse of the peace deal could lead to a re-escalation in the conflict and a drastic rise in humanitarian need.

2. Democratic Republic of Congo

A health worker is dressed in full personal protective equipment to disinfect Case Du Salut health facility in Mabalako, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo
Photo: Kellie Ryan/IRC

At least two decades of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo have led to extreme instability across large parts of the country. 13.1 million people are experiencing crisis or worse levels of food insecurity. Recent displacement figures are contested, but the United Nations counted 4.5 million internally displaced in 2017. Congo is also witnessing the second largest Ebola outbreak in history.

Outlook for 2019: Tensions around the presidential election due in December 2018 mean that 2019 is likely to begin with intense political disagreements, protests and possibly growing militia violence. This will drive rising displacements and food insecurity, given the resulting disruption to harvests, while Ebola will continue to spread.

1. Yemen

A young girl sits on the ground in a village in Yemen
Photo: Kellie Ryan/IRC

Yemen has been embroiled in a bitter civil war since 2015 as the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition supports the government of President Hadi against the Houthi movement that controls the capital, Sanaa. 24 million people remain in need of humanitarian assistance and the United Nations warned in late 2018 that the country risked facing a “massive famine.” According to the most recent assessments, 63,500 Yemenis are experiencing catastrophe levels of food insecurity. Yemen is also home to the worst cholera outbreak in modern history, with over one million affected.

Outlook for 2019: The civil war and associated humanitarian catastrophe are highly likely to persist in 2019, with food insecurity already rising. As airstrikes continue to hit civilian areas and medical facilities, it will be increasingly difficult for humanitarian organizations to deliver aid, help people uprooted from their homes, and address the widespread malnutrition. If dialogue efforts fail and the coalition launches an offensive to seize control of the port city of Hodeidah, which brings in 70 percent of all imports, another 250,000 people could “lose everything—even their lives,” the U.N. warns.

Learn more

The IRC, which helps to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster is responding to the humanitarian consequences of the crises in all 10 countries. The full 2019 Emergency Watchlist will help us make informed decisions about where to focus our efforts in the coming year. As these crises evolve, we will continue to track them and provide lifesaving assistance and humanitarian aid to those in need across the globe.

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ISIS Bombs Foreign Ministry in Libya, Killing Three.

Suicide attackers storm Libyan foreign ministry in Tripoli, killing at least three. ISIS claims responsibility.

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 12/28/2018B

DAR Note: Our Trusted source on the Ground in Tripoli has reported that the current situation in Libya is worse than it has been since 2014. Tribal Clashes and are approaching a full-scale civil war. A terrorist element is also engaged in an active campaign to discourage all foreign powers from having a presence or influence inside of Libya. Most nations have already withdrawn from the country.

Suicide attackers on Tuesday stormed the Libyan foreign ministry in the capital Tripoli, killing at least three people including a senior civil servant, the authorities said, according to AFP.

21 other people were wounded in what authorities said was a suicide attack carried out by “terrorists”.

A car bomb exploded near the ministry, prompting security forces to rush to the scene, said special forces spokesman Tarak al-Dawass.

A suicide bomber then blew himself up on the second floor of the building while a second attacker died when a suitcase he was carrying exploded, he added.

A third assailant, who was unarmed and wearing a bulletproof vest, was killed by security forces outside, said Dawass.

The Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group later claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Reuters.

The group said in its propaganda news agency, Amaq, that three of its members carried out the attack.

Foreign Minister Tahar Siala said one of the dead was senior diplomat Ibrahim al-Shaibi who headed a department in his ministry.

Libya has been rocked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi, with two rival authorities and multiple militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.

As a result, the country has become a haven for jihadists and has experienced multiple terrorist attacks in recent years.

ISIS took advantage of the chaos to gain a foothold in the coastal city of Sirte in 2015.

Forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) regained control of Sirte in December 2016 after eight months of deadly fighting.

Since then, some jihadists have returned to the desert in an attempt to regroup and reorganize.

Last year, the Libyan jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, which is accused by Washington of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed the ambassador and three other Americans, announced its “dissolution”.

Ansar al-Sharia is one of the jihadist groups that sprung up in Benghazi in the chaos following the death of Qaddafi. Members of the group overran the city in 2014 and later declared authority over the coastal city of Darna.

Most of Ansar al-Sharia’s members have defected to ISIS in recent years.

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Book Review: Former US Ambassador Prudence Bushnell’s Book on Surviving the 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombings.

A Story of Leadership and Fatal Missed Opportunity

Rescue workers carry a body on Aug. 9, 1998, in the aftermath of a bombing two days earlier that targeted the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. (AFP/Getty Images)
Rescue workers carry a body on Aug. 9, 1998, in the aftermath of a bombing two days earlier that targeted the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. (AFP/Getty Images)

Washington being Washington, the expectation is that books born in this city should focus on matters of high policy. On that front, Prudence Bushnell’s account of the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya—and that of its counterpart in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania—on Aug. 7, 1998, does not disappoint. Indeed, her book, Terrorism, Betrayal, and Resilience: My Story of the 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombings, raises important questions about how the Washington policy establishment missed the clues that might have allowed it to foresee, and possibly prevent, those twin tragedies and asks whether a serious inquiry into those events might have avoided an even greater horror—that of 9/11.

But, Washington being Washington, many times books about policy are dry, academic treatises, as often written to showcase an author’s intellectual and analytical prowess as they are to advance an idea. The books in this category are often bloodless. To the extent actual people are featured, they mostly fall into that elite category of policymakers. If other people are discussed at all, it is often not as individuals but as nameless and faceless collectivities—the Afghans, the Europeans, the Africans. To her credit, this is not the book Bushnell, who was U.S. ambassador to Kenya at the time of the bombings, chose to write, a story about an incident that changed her life and should have changed U.S. foreign policy.

Indeed, Bushnell’s account is, first and foremost, about people. Part I begins, appropriately, not with the policymakers at all but with those whose lives were impacted by their decisions and lack of foresight. Principal among this group were the employees, American and Kenyan, who staffed the Nairobi embassy the day a truck bomb drove up alongside it and set off its deadly cargo. This piece of Bushnell’s book is a moving story of individual suffering and loss but also of small and large acts of courage, heroism, and, as the title denotes, resilience. It describes how a community torn apart by a vicious act of terrorism pulled itself back together to grieve for the colleagues who were killed and to help heal the physical and psychological wounds of the many more who had suffered. Further, it documents their efforts to tend to the enormous losses suffered by the larger Kenyan community—more than 200 people killed and an estimated 5,000 injured—all the while pursuing their official duties. This part of Bushnell’s tale is a story about dedicated public servants based far from America’s borders who rarely receive the attention or appreciation they deserve and whose sacrifices on behalf of the country are rarely explained or understood.

What makes this book compelling and unusual is how Bushnell’s modest and restrained writing reveals the example she herself set of leadership and courage. Interwoven with the larger narrative is her personal story, beginning with her growing up in a foreign service family. (Her father, as typical of the era, was the foreign service officer, her mother, a homemaker.) That family bred in her a commitment to public service, Bushnell writes, and nurtured the principles and values, as well as the personal strength that came from them, that led me to ask her to work with me in the years prior to her ambassadorship, first as the deputy chief of mission in Dakar, Senegal, and later as my principal deputy in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs. They also formed the foundations of Bushnell’s adult ethical leadership. Those principles and values are on full display in the description of Bushnell’s steady stewardship of her embassy community, both before and after the bombing. They are most evident in her determined efforts, in the months leading up to the bombings, to call Washington’s attention to her embassy’s extreme vulnerability to just such an attack, efforts that earned her admonishments from senior State Department officials for “overloading circuits” and asking for what seemed to Washington not just impossible but unnecessary. Still, she persisted. That same principled leadership was again in evidence in the horrible aftermath of the bombing, when, putting aside her own physical and psychological injuries, she summoned the strength to give both comfort and direction to her shaken embassy team while firmly asserting control over the legions of responders from Washington, whose sudden arrival often brought more distress than help.

Lest this sound like more memoir than policy narrative, the book always brings readers back to policy. In Part II of her book, Bushnell describes the many people—among them, Michael Scheuer, the director of the CIA’s Alec Station, charged with gathering intelligence on Osama bin Laden; his counterpart at the FBI, John O’Neill; and Richard Clarke, who directed counterterrorism efforts at the National Security Council—who, however well-intentioned, had opportunities to foresee and prevent what happened on that fateful August day but who failed. Bushnell documents that history with meticulous and relentless detail: She describes how in the 1980s, U.S. support for jihadi insurgents fighting a Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan sowed the seeds of al Qaeda and radical Islamist groups like it and explains how the failure to analyze and understand the roots of Islamist extremism led the United States to act in ways that spawned further radicalization, as well as how, once the Soviets had been forced out of Afghanistan, these radical groups turned their ire against the United States.

Drawing on official and journalistic reports, Bushnell recounts how affiliates of those groups found their way to the United States itself and how—despite surveillance from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies—they went on to plot and execute a series of fatal attacks against U.S. interests: the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, the October 1993 attack on U.S. forces in Somalia, and eventually the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. To help us understand how this was possible, she ably describes how officials in Washington, mired in bureaucratic turf battles and trapped in organizational stovepipes, failed to share the information that might have allowed them to connect the dots. That same dysfunction prevented essential information from being shared with Bushnell and her team in Nairobi, which may have enabled them to prepare for, and if possible avoid, the disaster. Only later, and largely through the mainstream press, did Bushnell learn that the CIA and the FBI had been amassing information about potential threats to the Nairobi embassy. “I had no idea that the FBI had known about al-Qaeda and had been tracking bin Laden ever since the investigation into the 1993 World Trade Center bombing,” she writes.

In effect, in Part II of her book, Bushnell has written the report that the U.S. government never wrote, the report that the special State Department Accountability Review Board convened in the aftermath of the bombings should have written but did not.

Bushnell has written the report that the U.S. government never wrote, the report that the special State Department Accountability Review Board convened in the aftermath of the bombings should have written but did not.

In so doing, she has raised some tough questions: How was it possible for bin Laden’s associates to plan and execute terrorist acts against the United States, even as they were known to and under the surveillance of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies? Why, in the aftermath of one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in U.S. history, did Washington not convene a full-scale inquiry into the events leading up to the bombings? And, had it done so, would the information uncovered—both about the enemies confronted and the weaknesses in its own institutions—have enabled it to avert the tragedy of 9/11?

Here, Bushnell quotes from the 9/11 Commission Report itself: “The tragedy of the embassy bombings provided an opportunity for a full examination, across the government, of the national security threat that Bin Ladin posed. Such an examination could have made clear to all that issues were at stake that was much larger than the domestic politics of the moment.”

 

Terrorism and Betrayal Book
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A gripping diplomatic thriller that tells the harrowing saga of the 1998 bombing of Embassy Nairobi. Ambassador Bushnell’s first-person account provides lessons of leadership, crisis management, and policy acumen. The tale dramatically illustrates the terrorism danger diplomats confront daily.”—Ambassador Robert E. Gribbin III (Ret.)

(Ambassador Robert E. Gribbin III (Ret.) 2018-03-02)

“Ambassador Prudence Bushnell is a true professional with the toughness, grit, courage, and compassion that marks the kind of superb leader you want in charge during a crisis. I witnessed her remarkable composure, even when personally injured, and her take-command leadership style. This book is important for many reasons. It vividly presents a profile in courage; an understanding rarely appreciated about our foreign service men and women working in difficult assignments; a set of valuable lessons learned; and a case study in leadership during crisis. Every American should read this book.”—Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)

(Anthony C. Zinni 2018-03-01)

“With heroes and villains aplenty, this riveting cold tale of the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kenya has startling relevance. As today’s State Department struggles to survive a gutting by its own government, Prudence Bushnell reminds us just how important and dangerous the job of diplomacy can be.”—Rheta Grimsley Johnson, syndicated columnist and author of Poor Man’s Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana

(Rheta Grimsley Johnson 2018-03-01)

“Prudence Bushnell’s name is not household familiar—but it should be. She was at the center of one of the most infamous terrorist attacks on American people and property in history.  And she was a woman in the highest ranks of the State Department when such a thing was rare. She tells her story with integrity and intelligence—and gives lessons on leadership based on life experience.”—Barbara Kellerman, James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School

(Barbara Kellerman 2018-07-30)

“For all readers, Ambassador Bushnell’s searing account of the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings provides profound lessons in leadership. She demonstrates time and again her deep commitment to the safety and mission of the people she led. Her willingness to battle paralyzing bureaucracy, both before and after the bombings, exhibits her decency and humanity in the midst of the chaos and evil that the Embassy experienced. She devoted much of her career to improving leadership at the Department of State. She is a role model for future leaders.”—Chris Kojm, director of the Leadership, Ethics, & Practice Initiative, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University

(Chris Kojm 2018-08-10)

About the Author

Prudence Bushnell is an American diplomat who has held a series of leadership positions with the U.S. Department of State, including deputy assistant secretary for African Affairs, ambassador to the republics of Kenya and Guatemala, and dean of the Leadership and Management School at the Foreign Service Institute. She is retired from the Foreign Service and founder of the Levitt Leadership Institute at Hamilton College in New York. She has earned numerous awards for her leadership and diplomacy, including three honorary doctoral degrees. For more information on the author visit prudencebushnell.com.

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Christopher Helton

October 1, 2018

Format: Hardcover

Prudence Bushnell was serving as United States Ambassador to Kenya in 1998 when al-Qaeda detonated a car bomb outside the embassy, killing over 200 people. In this memoir, Bushnell examines her actions during and after the attack. She also looks at the history leading up to the attacks, weaving in her own experiences in the State Department, as she attempts to piece together how they happened and how little the U.S. has grown form the experience. The same cannot be said for Bushnell, who candidly includes passages on her own emotional growth following the bombing. This book covers a lot of ground, but Bushnell is a more than capable guide, bouncing easily between the personal and policy sections.

One of the great strengths of this book resides in the fact that Prudence Bushnell is a diplomat, not a politician. Her recollections are sharp, insightful, and, most interestingly, critical. She has no problem examining the failures of the Clinton administration in funding embassy security, nor future administrations’ similar issues. Her frustrations with airing these concerns only to be met with silence is palpable. Similar sections also highlight the problems in Washington surrounding its continued approach to terrorism

In a lesser work, these moments might feel self-serving, but Bushnell carefully backs up her analysis with facts and experience. After all, her security vulnerability predictions proved correct after the bombing attack. Moreover, many of the grievances discussed later in the book about current State Department action, particularly funding, are still evolving, making this a troubling (though necessary) read.

While the bombing always remains at least in the periphery throughout this book, it’s not always the sole focus. Bushnell had a long career with the State Department, and it’s fascinating reading about her experiences maneuvering in such a male-dominated environment, and there’s a lot to be noted here about leadership. It’s insightful and provides a glimpse of how her worldview has developed and how it served her in her career. As well, the sections on serving in Rwanda and her post-retirement private sector careers are standouts.

Bushnell highlights a lot of problems the U.S. has navigating on the world stage. Much of this is disheartening and concerning. However, without spoiler, she ends this book with one of the most inspiring and optimistic passages I’ve ever read and is the real essence of this entire work.

 

 

 

Three Dead After Car Bomb Strikes EU Convoy in Somalia

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 10/03/2018

MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Three people were killed in a suicide car bombing by Islamist group al Shabaab which hit a European Union armoured convoy in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Monday, police and an emergency service worker said.

1sombomb

The blast struck the convoy around 12:10 PM local time on Industrial Road, a major thoroughfare in the heart of the city.

“We carried two dead locals and four others injured,” Abdikadir Abdirahman of AMIN Ambulance Services told Reuters.

1sombomb2
A soldier patrols the road as the damage is assessed after Islamist group al Shabaab hit a European Union armoured convoy in Mogadishu, Somalia October 1, 2018. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Police said the bomber had also died in the blast.

A Reuters witness saw men towing their damaged vehicle after the explosion hit its rear end. The armoured vehicles had Italian and EU flags on them.

The al Shabaab group, which frequently carries out attacks in the Horn of Africa country, claimed responsibility.

The Italian military said a convoy of five vehicles returning from a training activity had been attacked but that no one was wounded or killed.

“The vehicle, with four soldiers on board, was slightly damaged and able to return to the base,” it said.

Al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab wants to topple Somalia’s Western-backed central government and impose its own rule based on its strict interpretation of Islam’s sharia law.

The European Union is one of the major sources of funding for the African Union-mandated peace-keeping force AMISOM which helps defend Somalia’s central government against the Islamists.

Somalia has been engulfed by violence and lawlessness since the early 1990s after the toppling of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Additional reporting Steve Scherer in Rome; writing by Elias Biryabarema; editing by William Maclean, Ed Osmond

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20 years Since US Embassy Bombings in Kenya and Tanzania

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyans and Tanzanians on Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaida bombings of the U.S. embassies in their countries that killed more than 250 people, with hundreds of local survivors calling on the U.S. government for compensation.

The explosions on Aug. 7, 1998, were the first major al-Qaida attack on U.S. targets. Nearly 5,000 people were injured.

The U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec, said the extremists wanted to cause a rift between Kenyans and Americans but failed.

kenya bombing

“Their immediate purpose was to kill and destroy, but they had more in mind. They sought to divide us, to divide friends … to undermine the values we hold dear, to destroy civilization itself and to replace it with a nightmare of oppression,” Godec said.

In a separate statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “our partnership with our African allies remains stronger than ever.”

One survivor of the Nairobi attack said hundreds of Kenyans were still pursuing compensation from the U.S., while U.S. citizens working in the embassy had been compensated.

Douglas Sidialo, spokesman with the Kenyan victims’ association, was blinded in the attack.

“You have to ask, do they care about the dreams and aspirations of the survivors? The unity the ambassador is talking about is a fallacy,” Sidialo said.

The push to aid Kenyan victims is now focused on the U.S. Congress, Washington-based attorney Philip Musolino, who is representing 538 victims with compensation claims, was quoted in Kenya’s leading newspaper The Daily Nation on Tuesday as saying.

The embassy bombings brought al-Qaida to the attention of the U.S. public and the world three years before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000.

Kenya has remained under threat from the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab group based in neighboring Somalia. The group claimed responsibility for the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, that killed 67 people and the 2015 Garissa University attack that killed 147 people, mostly students.

Al-Shabab more recently has been targeting Kenyan security forces, with nearly 100 police officers killed since May 2017 in bombings and ambushes.

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Sudanese Diplomat Killed in Central African Republic

Diplomatic Security Sit-Rep 05/09/2018

By Mohammed Amin

KHARTOUM, Sudan

A diplomat was killed on Friday in an attack on Sudan’s Embassy in the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

According to the statement, the diplomat was killed during clashes between police and embassy guards in Bangui.

“Sudan’s embassy staff at the CAR capital of Bangui, Salih Abu Haniya, has been killed” as a result of clashes that took place between the police and the guards of our embassy, it said.

The Foreign Ministry summoned the CAR ambassador in capital Khartoum in protest against the attack.

The statement added the CAR president and the minister of interior attended the funeral ceremony of the slain diplomat and promised to deliver justice.

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Attack on French Embassy and Army HQ in Burkina Faso.

Islamic extremists struck the French Embassy and army headquarters in simultaneous attacks of gunfire and explosives Friday in Burkina Faso’s capital, killing eight people and wounding more than 80 others. All eight militants were slain by security forces.

The violence, which the government called a terrorist attack, marked a further deterioration in the former French colony’s perilous security situation. Islamic militants already have struck twice since January 2016 in the West African country, prompting criticism of the military response each time.cropped-diplomatic-security-situation-report.jpg

No group claimed responsibility for Friday’s attacks.

One of the militants’ assaults destroyed a room in the army headquarters where senior officers were to have met but was relocated at the last minute, according to Security Minister Clement Sawadogo.

“If the meeting had taken place in the first room, our army would have been beheaded,” Sawadogo said, adding that some of the assailants wore military clothing and seemed to be aware of the planned gathering.

The French Embassy came under attack around 10:15 a.m., with witnesses at the nearby state TV offices telling The Associated Press that the attackers had arrived in a pickup truck, shouted, “Allahu akbar!” and began shooting.

No one in the embassy was hurt, but a gendarme and the four attackers were killed, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in televised remarks.

Gunfire and explosions resounded for hours, subsiding by midday. Workers fled nearby offices and helicopters were seen above the embassy.

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A similar attack unfolded at the army headquarters across town. The assailants also arrived in a pickup and starting shooting at soldiers, said Moussa Korbeogo, a trader at a nearby market.

Heavy smoke rose from the army joint chief of staff’s office, where witnesses reported loud explosions. Windows were broken there and in nearby buildings.

“Some of the soldiers ran into a nearby bank to seek shelter. Several were killed outside and inside the premises,” Korbeogo said.

Five emergency centers to treat casualties were set up in hospitals, a military barracks and at a stadium in Ouagadougou, said Col. Amade Kafando, director general of Burkina Faso’s army health unit.

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with President Roch Marc Christian Kabore to express his condolences and support, and also to thank the country’s forces for their quick intervention. Burkina Faso is one of five countries in the Sahel contributing to the so-called G5 force in the region battling extremists.

Macron “reaffirms his determination and the full commitment of France, alongside its G5 Sahel partners, in the fight against terrorist movements,” according to a statement from the French leader.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said it has opened a preliminary attempted murder investigation into the attack because the embassy was among the targets, a French judicial official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media identified.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the attacks and expressed solidarity with Burkina Faso’ government and people. In a statement, he affirms the United Nations’ commitment “to support Burkina Faso in its efforts to fight violent extremism and terrorism, sustain the security sector reform, promote national reconciliation and create the conditions for sustainable peace and development.”

Ouagadougou has been attacked by Islamic extremists targeting foreigners at least twice in the past few years. Security forces have struggled to contain the attacks.

In August, extremists opened fire as patrons dined at a restaurant, killing at least 18 people. In January 2016, Islamic extremists attacked another cafe popular with foreigners, killing 30 people.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the 2016 killings along with the jihadist group known as Al Mourabitoun. But experts say the terror threat in Burkina Faso is increasingly homegrown.

The landlocked nation of Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world. It shares a northern border with Mali, which has long battled Islamic extremists.

The northern border region near Mali is the home of Ibrahim Malam Dicko, a preacher who has claimed responsibility for recent deadly attacks on troops and civilians. His association, Ansarul Islam, is considered a terrorist group by Burkina Faso’s government.

Among his objectives has been ending the use of French in regional schools. Forces backed by the French military have failed to capture Dicko.

But he is not the only threat. Northern areas near the border with Mali have been a regular target of attacks by various extremist groups, some of them vowing to step up the bloodshed in response to the recent deployment of the G5 Sahel force. The 5,000-member force combines troops from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania, with France leading the efforts to bring in international funding.

The countries’ troops join forces where they can. In response to the new violence in eastern Burkina Faso, troops from Burkina Faso and nearby Mali and Niger have increased patrols. Extremists are thought to be hiding in forested areas in the border region.

Longtime President Blaise Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising in late 2014, and a coup was mounted the following year but ultimately failed. Some critics say the military has suffered during the years of political upheaval.

During the 2016 assault, security forces waited for hours before trying to intervene.

Threats by Islamic extremists also moved into new parts of Burkina Faso in February with an attack by 10 people in an eastern town that killed an officer and wounded two others.

Increased attacks at the border with Mali have forced thousands to flee in the past year. An Australian doctor who had spent decades treating civilians was also abducted along this border and remains missing.

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Egyptian military court rules on 2015 Niger Embassy attack.

Egypt’s military court on Monday handed down a death sentence to one individual and life imprisonment sentences to four others over their involvement in a 2015 attack on the Embassy of Niger in Cairo.

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It also handed ten- and five-year prison terms to 12 and five defendants in the case, respectively.

The court also acquitted eight defendants, who can appeal the sentences.

The case dates back to July 2015, when gunmen opened fire at security forces outside the Embassy of Niger on Haram Street in Giza, killing a police conscript and injuring two low-ranking policemen as well as a embassy employee.

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According to investigations conducted by the High State Security Prosecution, the defendants attacked the embassy to publicly declare the presence of the Daesh terrorist organization in the Egyptian capital, with the prosecution adding that the defendants have confessed to pledging allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

They have also confessed to establishing a terrorist cell aimed at carrying out attacks in the country, as well as targeting police forces and shops owned by Egyptian Coptic Christians.

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14 Peacekeepers Killed and 40 wounded in DR Congo Attack.

8 December 2017 – At least 14 United Nations ‘blue helmets’ in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been killed and many more injured, in what the Secretary-GeneralAntónio Guterres described as the “worst attack” on UN peacekeepers in recent history.

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Late Thursday, a MONUSCO (the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC) Company Operating Base at Semuliki in Beni territory, North Kivu, was attacked by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) elements, resulting in a protracted fighting between the suspected armed group elements and MONUSCO and Armed Forces of the DRC, known by the French acronym, FARDC.

Late Thursday, a MONUSCO (the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC) Company Operating Base at Semuliki in Beni territory, North Kivu, was attacked by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) elements, resulting in a protracted fighting between the suspected armed group elements and MONUSCO and Armed Forces of the DRC, known by the French acronym, FARDC.

These deliberate attacks against UN peacekeepers are unacceptable and constitute a war crime” said Secretary-General António Guterres, adding: “I condemn this attack unequivocally.”

Further, calling on the DRC authorities to investigate the incident and swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice, the UN chief stressed: “There must be no impunity for such assaults, here or anywhere else.”

In his remarks, he also said that the attack is another indication of the challenges faced by UN peacekeeping operations around the world and acknowledged the sacrifices made by troop contributing countries in the service of global peace.

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“These brave women and men are putting their lives on the line every day across the world to serve peace and to protect civilians,” he noted, offering condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed and a speedy recovery to those injured.

All of the peacekeeping troops killed in the brutal attack which reportedly lasted some three hours were from Tanzania. In addition, three members of the contingent are reported to be missing in action.

According to Ian Sinclair, the Director of the UN Operations and Crisis Centre (UNOCC), initial figures indicate that 53 peacekeepers been injured, of whom three critically, but the numbers could rise.

Members of the FARDC have also been killed and injured in the attack but numbers are yet to be confirmed, Mr. Sinclair told reporters at a news briefing at the UN Headquarters, in New York.

“Our reinforcements have arrived on the scene and a search is ongoing for the missing soldiers,” he said, noted that the wounded have been evacuated from the area, among whom some have been further evacuated to more advanced medical facilities in Goma, DRC.

“Further medical evacuation is possible for seriously injured,” he added.

The volatile North Kivu region, located in eastern DRC, has witnessed a number of attacks on UN peacekeeping forces. In October, two UN ‘blue helmets’ were killed and another 18 were injured their base was attacked by the ADF armed group.

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US & French embassies in Brazzaville step up security over Terror!

The US and French embassies in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, said Friday Congolese authorities had beefed up security at their buildings after receiving threats.

The French embassy on its website said “a message relating to possible attacks” had been received overnight Wednesday.

“The French embassy asked the Republic of Congo authorities for additional security presence at the main sites of French interest (in Congo), in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire,” it said.

“Units of the Congolese security forces were deployed in the early morning of Thursday, November 30. These measures are still being applied,” it said, thanking the authorities for their support.

The US embassy, on Facebook, said it had received a “security threat” on Thursday.

“We would like to thank the government of the Republic of Congo for their timely and efficient response to our request for additional security personnel,” the embassy said, adding that the US facility was “open for normal operations” on Friday.

On Thursday evening, Communications Minister Thierry Moungalla said “our security services were placed on an alert footing… after being informed that an imminent terrorist attack may be perpetrated against French and American interests in our country.”

A Congolese citizen aged in his thirties “and reportedly a Muslim” was arrested, he said in a statement which he read on public television.

There were no further details.

A major oil producer, the Republic of Congo is a former French colony that gained independence in 1960. The country’s post-colonial era has been marred by militia conflicts and civil wars, and nearly half of its population of 4.2 million live in poverty, according to World Bank figures.

The country is sometimes referred to as Congo-Brazzaville, to differentiate it from its far larger neighbour, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Libyan militant cleared of US envoy’s murder in Benghazi, convicted of terror

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An armed man waving his rifle as buildings are engulfed in flames inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi on 11 September 2012 (AFP)

A US jury on Tuesday acquitted accused militant Ahmed Abu Khatallah of the most serious charges he faced in connection with a 2012 attack on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya that killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The jury in US District Court for the District of Columbia found Khatallah guilty on only four of the 18 counts he faced and acquitted him on murder and other charges, according to the Justice Department.

He was convicted on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, one count of providing material support to terrorists, one count of maliciously destroying property and one count of using and carrying a semi-automatic weapon during a violent crime, according to a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

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The jury reached its verdict after five days of deliberations.

Khatallah is the first person to be tried in connection with the 2012 attack in Benghazi. A second person alleged to be involved, Mustafa al-Imam, made his first court appearance earlier this month.

The attack, which coincided with the 11th anniversary of 9/11, was carried out by some 20 men armed with grenades and heavy weapons.

Stevens and the second State Department official, Sean Smith, died of smoke inhalation after the consulate caught fire, while the two CIA contractors, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were killed in the firefight by mortar rounds.

The case marks a major test of the government’s ability to capture and try alleged terrorists in civilian courts rather than military proceedings.

Prosecutors acknowledged that Khatallah did not directly participate in the attack on the US consulate or nearby CIA annex. Rather, they sought to convince the jury that he helped orchestrate it behind the scenes.

Khatallah was captured in 2014 by US military and FBI officials in Libya and transported to the United States aboard a Navy vessel.

He was first questioned by US intelligence officials and later by the FBI. Khatallah waived his right to speak first with an attorney, and prosecutors used his statements in the trial.

They also presented evidence including phone records showing that the defendant made calls to his associates right before they were captured on grainy videos participating in the attack and testimony from a variety of witnesses.

Defence attorneys for Khatallah said the witnesses lacked credibility, especially one witness who was paid $7 million to inform on their client and lure to him the place where he was captured.

In August, the court ruled against his lawyers’ motion to suppress whatever he told his interrogators as evidence because his rights to remain silent, knowing the charges against him, and having a lawyer present were violated.

His lawyers also argued that the lengthy 13-day trip by ship back to the United States was part of a scheme to extract information from him without legal protections.

Khatallah faces a statutory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for each of the two terrorism charges, 20 years for the property destruction charge and 10 years for the firearms offence.

The Benghazi attack led to a political firestorm in Washington that factored into the 2016 presidential elections, where Republicans repeatedly accused then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton of failing to adequately protect the diplomatic compound.

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Final arguments in trial of Benghazi attack ‘mastermind’

Prosecutors in the trial of the alleged Libyan mastermind of the 2012 attack in Benghazi that killed a US ambassador argued Thursday that he was equally responsible even if he did not personally take part.

Wrapping up final arguments in the trial of Ahmed Abu Khattala over the 2012 Benghazi attack, US government lawyers said he was guilty of conspiracy and murder in the deaths of US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

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“‘I will kill all the Americans, each and everyone of them…’: This is what the defendant Abu Khattala said and this is exactly what he did,” prosecutor Michael DiLorenzo told a jury in the trial in Washington federal court.

“On September 11, he took action,” DiLorenzo said, highlighting that the attack in the eastern Libyan city took place on the anniversary of the 9/11 Al Qaeda attacks.

Khattala, in his 40s with a long white beard, sat passively in his chair in the courtroom, where his trial opened seven weeks earlier.

DiLorenzo summed up his argument that Khattala was an Islamic extremist who hated Western culture and believed the US operated a cell of spies in Benghazi.

Prosecutors allege that he directed the attack by some 20 men armed with grenades and heavy weapons on the US consulate and a second annex building where agents of the CIA worked.

The attack set fire to the consulate, where Stevens and a second State Department official, Sean Smith, died of asphyxiation.

Later that night two former Navy Seals who were contracted to the consulate operation, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were killed by mortar fire on the annex.

The attack shocked the United States. Stevens was the first American ambassador killed in the field since 1979.

Republicans in Congress launched an intense investigation that accused president Barack Obama and then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton of mismanagement, neglect and covering up the truth of the incident.

– Murder and terror charges –

Khattala is facing 18 separate charges including murder and material support for terrorists.

The 12-person jury is to begin weighing a verdict after final arguments in the case wind up on Thursday.

Khattala’s lawyers argue that although he is a conservative Muslim, he did not hate the West. To the contrary, they said he was a “Libyan patriot” who says he worked with Americans to bring down the Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi, who was killed in 2011.

The photographs and videos that show him at the site during the attack do not prove he was part of it, his lawyers say. He was only a bystander who came to watch.

But the US government argues he commanded the Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia behind the attack.

Even if he did not physically participate, DiLorenzo argued, in a conspiracy “the defendant is equally liable.”

– Test case –

Khattala’s trial is a test case for foreign suspects forcibly brought to the United States for trial.

He was captured in 2014 when US special forces carried out a raid based on intelligence provided by a Libyan man who ultimately received a $7 million reward from the US government.

On November 4 a second Libyan accused of involvement in the Benghazi attack, Mustafa al-Imam, was put on trial in the same Washington court, days after being captured and brought to the United States.

Al-Imam was called one of the men who attacked the consulate.

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Serbian Embassy workers abducted during attack on ambassador’s convoy in Libya

Libyan policemen stand guard at a checkpoint in Sabratha, Libya. (Mohamed Ben Khalifa / AP Photo)
Libyan policemen stand guard at a checkpoint in Sabratha, Libya. (Mohamed Ben Khalifa / AP Photo)

BELGRADE, Serbia — Gunmen in Libya crashed into a convoy of vehicles taking Serbia’s ambassador to neighbouring Tunisia and then kidnapped two other embassy employees, officials said.

The embassy’s communications officer, Sladjana Stankovic, and driver Jovica Stepic, were kidnapped in the northwest coastal town of Sabratha, Serbia’s Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry is “doing all it can to get more information and secure the return of our citizens in a very complicated situation on the ground,” a statement said.

Ambassador Oliver Potezica, who escaped unharmed and was travelling in the three-vehicle convoy with his wife and two sons aged 8 and 14, later recounted the attack.

“It happened like in a movie,” Potezica told Tanjug news agency from Tunisia. “The attack happened when one of the embassy cars was hit from behind. When the driver came out to check what happened, he was dragged into one of the attackers’ cars.”

One of the Libyan security officers travelling with the convoy was wounded when hit by a spray of gunfire during the attack and taken to a hospital, the ambassador said.

The kidnapping “looked more like a criminal than a political act,” Potezica said.

In Libya, a member of Sabratha’s council said that the convoy had stopped at a motel on their way to Tunisia and then resumed their journey.

“They were ambushed by an armed group, and the vehicle carrying the ambassador and his wife managed to escape the ambush, but the group managed to stop the vehicle behind it, which had two embassy staff,” council member Abdulghassim Krair said.

Military forces safely escorted the rest of the convoy to the Tunisian border, Krair said.

“We assured them that we will do our best to find the perpetrators and rescue the employees,” he said.

Krair added that the embassy hadn’t notified local authorities in advance about the trip, saying “it’s not safe to travel through the area unguarded.”

The motel was on the main road leading to Tunisia and close to the Mediterranean Sea in an area beset by smugglers and rouge militias. A number of kidnappings have

Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Survives Vehicle Attack

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Libya’s deputy prime minister survived unhurt after gunmen fired on his car in Tripoli on Wednesday in an attack reflecting the violent chaos plaguing the North African nation two years after Muammar Gaddafi’s fall.

The Libyan government is struggling to contain dozens of unruly militias, former rebel brigades and militants who kept their guns after the NATO-backed revolt against Gaddafi in 2011.

Deputy Prime Minister Sadiq Abdulkarim said he had been attacked on his way from the Interior Ministry to the General National Congress assembly. He is also interim Interior Minister since the previous minister quit several months ago.

“I tell those who did it that Libya is bigger than you and Libya’s men will not be threatened by bullets, guns or rockets,” Abdulkarim said a two-minute statement on television.

The state news agency said he had not been wounded in the attack. Abdulkarim, who appeared healthy in his television appearance, said he had returned to work afterwards.

The identity of the attackers was unclear, an Interior Ministry official said.

Libya’s difficulties in asserting state authority worry Western powers which fear that violence in the OPEC country could spill over to its North African neighbors.

Parts of Libya are already effectively under the control of militias, armed tribesmen and Islamist militant groups.

Libya’s fledgling army and police, still in training, are no match for the militias that fought in the anti-Gaddafi uprising. The government has tried to co-opt them with state jobs but they often remain loyal to their commanders or local regions.

Security has deteriorated in recent months. More than 40 people were killed in fighting between rival groups and residents in Tripoli in October. Car bombs and assassinations have become part of daily life in the eastern city of Benghazi.

An armed blockade of three major eastern ports by a group demanding a greater share of oil wealth and more regional autonomy has choked off 600,000 barrels per day of oil exports.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan’s government faces a budget crunch due to the blockade, now in its sixth month. Oil exports, Libya’s lifeline, have more than halved during the dispute.

Russian Diplomat and Wife Stabbed in South Sudan

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 Russian diplomat and his wife were stabbed in Sudan’s capital on Tuesday by a man enraged by the death of his brother in strife-torn Central African Republic, Khartoum police said.

The attacker wounded the consul general and his wife, mistakenly believing they were from a nation that had sent troops to his home country, the force said in a statement.

Both were in a stable condition, it added.

Central African Republic, which borders Sudan, descended into chaos in March after a mostly Muslim rebel coalition, Seleka, marched into the capital, unleashing a wave of killings and looting.

Its former colonial ruler France has sent in troops to defend its citizens and back up African peacekeepers trying to contain the violence. The European Union has also promised to send in soldiers, but Russia has no troops on the ground.

The attacker told officers who arrested and questioned him that his brother had been killed “by forces from the one of the European countries,” the police said.

“There was no motive other than revenge for the death of the brother,” the police statement read.

The duty officer at Russia’s embassy in Khartoum said he could not comment and the Russian Foreign Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.

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