Boko Haram opens fresh attack on major Nigeria city of Maiduguri
Fighters from the insurgent Islamic group initiated an assault on the northeast Nigeria city of Maiduguri, triggering an hours-long fight with troops for control of the Borno state capital, witnesses told AFP. Witnesses said Boko Haram rebels opened hostilities around 3:00 am (0200 GMT) and that heavy fighting was ongoing at the southern edge of the city. “The whole city is in fear,” said resident Adam Krenuwa. “People are afraid of what will happen if Boko Haram defeats the security forces.” The group’s last effort to seize Maiduguri just one week ago was repulsed by the military. However, the militants managed to seize the town of Monguno just 125 kilometers (80 miles) outside the city, as well as a military base.
Search resumes for 86 still missing from December’s AirAsia crash
Indonesian rescue teams have on Sunday resumed the search for the bodies of 86 passengers still missing after the AirAsia plane crash on December 28, a local authority has said. There were 162 people on board. The national search and rescue agency has had to take a two-day break, owing to bad weather conditions in the Java Sea. A total of 68 rescue divers from this and related agencies set about raising the airplane’s fuselage, as the “focus today is to find bodies that could be trapped” there or “buried in the mud” on the seabed underneath, the official, who is also coordinating the search, told AFP. New evidence has revealed one of the pilots’ negligence, now thought to have led to the crash.
Islamic State captures Iraqi oil facility, 15 workers missing
Islamic State (IS) insurgents have seized a small oil field near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk and the 15 employees who were working there are now missing, according to security and oil officials, Reuters reports. This latest seizure comes after IS fighters attacked regional Kurdish forces southwest of Kirkuk on Friday, where they captured parts of the Khabbaz oil fields.
African Union to send 7500 troops to fight Boko Haram
African leaders have agreed to send 7,500 soldiers to northeast Nigeria as part of an effort to suppress the Boko Haram insurgency that has ravaged the region, an African Union official said Saturday. Representatives from the 54-country union, who are meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for a two day summit, have decided to deploy a military task force staffed by troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chadi and Benin. Thousands have been killed during the radical Sunni group’s bloody insurgency, including a devastating massacre in Baga that left 2,000 people dead earlier this month.
Macedonian authorities claim to have uncovered plot to overthrow government
Police in Macedonia said Saturday they will charge four people with trying to topple the government including the leader of the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, Reuters reports. A senior government official who declined to be named said that Zoran Zaev was defiant and threw the blame back at the government. The prospect of him going to jail threatens to further deepen divisions in the former Yugoslav republic and the Social Democrats have now boycotted parliament for almost a year as they say the last parliamentary election was fraudulent.
Merkel rules out debt relief for Greece
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected the possibility of providing Greece with any debt relief. This decision could stoke tensions with the new left-wing Greek government and its international creditors. “There has already been voluntary debt forgiveness by private creditors, banks have already slashed billions from Greece’s debt,” Merkel said in an interview with the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper published on Saturday. “I do not envisage fresh debt cancellation,” she added.