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Somalia: Al-Shabaab terrorists storm mayor’s office, killing six

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Al-Shabaab terrorists set off a bomb and stormed a government building in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.  The Al-Qaeda-backed terror group has stepped up bombings in the country.

At least six people were killed on Sunday in an attack by Al Shabaab militants at the mayor’s office in central Mogadishu, police said.

A suicide bomber set off a huge blast that tore through building near the office complex with gunfire erupting afterwards, Somali police spokesman Sadik Dudishe said at the end of the four-hour siege.

“All the six attackers died. Five of them during the fire exchange with the security forces and one of them detonated himself,” Dudishe told reporters.

“Six civilians also died during the attack and the situation is back to normal.” All the staffers at the mayor’s office were rescued, the police added.

Al 0Shabaab, a militant group allied with Al Qaeda claimed, responsibility for the attack via its communication channels, saying its fighters “made their way inside the targeted building after killing the security guards.” Witnesses said the initial explosion damaged nearby buildings and gunfire could be heard in the vicinity of the mayor’s office.

The area was quickly cordoned off by security officers, a witness who runs a business near the offices said.

Another witness, Omar Nur, said he was inside a nearby mall when the explosion went off and “was lucky to have escaped safely.” The Al Shabaab militants have been waging a bloody insurgency against the frail internationally backed central government for 15 years, carrying out attacks both in Somalia and neighbouring countries.

The latest attack comes days after seven soldiers were killed on Friday at a military camp in Galcad, a town in central Somalia about 375 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu. The US military said the attack — in the Somali town retaken by the army this week — involved more than 100 Al Shabaab jihadists.

“The combined actions by partner forces on the ground and the collective self-defence strike is estimated to have resulted in three destroyed vehicles and approximately thirty Al Shabaab terrorists killed” the US military command for Africa (AFRICOM) said in a statement.

Source: Dawn

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Nigeria will consider electric cars soon — Osinbajo

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday in Abuja, said Nigeria’s energy transition plan will include, among others things the introduction of electric cars and decommissioning of generators.

However, the country must balance its drive for this transition by focusing on the ancillary infrastructure that makes them sustainable.

“We will be considering the decommissioning of generators, development of cooking stoves, think through options such as electric cars; is it the right time? What about charging stations? These are some of the things we have to start thinking about,” the VP said when he received a delegation from the US-based Rocky Mountain Institute.

The RMI is an international think-tank involved with the issue of the energy transition for the last four decades.

Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, disclosed this in a statement he signed on Monday titled ‘VP highlights FG’s energy transition goals as African carbon markets initiative progresses.’

He said some of the goals of the Federal Government in pursuing a just Energy Transition agenda was seeking among other issues, adequate Climate Finance, especially through the African Carbon Market Initiative.

According to the VP, the federal government would be working on issues of Climate Finance, specific projects that will advance the 2060 Net-Zero target of Nigeria and exploring the possibility of electric vehicles in the country.

Earlier in the day, Osinbajo had virtually participated in a progress meeting of the international African Carbon Market Initiative Steering Committee which reviewed the progress of the plans on broadening the market in Nigeria and Africa.

“We will be considering the decommissioning of generators, development of cooking stoves, think through options such as electric cars; is it the right time? What about charging stations? These are some of the things we have to start thinking about,” he noted.

Speaking earlier, the CEO of Rocky Mountain Institute, Mr. Jon Creyts, expressed readiness to partner with Nigeria on the federal government’s Energy Transition Plan since this was a commitment that is shared by the institute as well.

“We share the commitment with Nigeria to get to Net-Zero in 2060 and build a prosperous economy in the process,” Creyts noted.

He explained that the institute had worked on similar issues with China, India, Indonesia and 62 other countries around the world.

At the meeting of the ACMI, the steering committee said it plans to attain $1bn in total commitments by buyers before COP28 later in 2023.

Besides the Vice President, the members of the ACMI include former President of Colombia, Ivan Duque Marquez; representatives of the United Nations, Rockefeller Foundation and the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, among others.

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Eritrean troops seen leaving Ethiopia’s Tigray – reports

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Eritrean forces have been leaving towns in the war-torn region of Tigray, locals told AFP, as the United States hailed a pullout seen as key to a landmark peace deal.

Fighting between federal troops and Tigray rebels erupted in northern Ethiopia in November 2020 and raged for two years before the two sides signed a peace deal in South Africa’s capital Pretoria on November 2, 2022.

Under the agreement, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) agreed to disarm and re-establish the authority of the federal government in return for the Ethiopian government reopening access to the war-torn region in dire need of food and aid.

But the Pretoria agreement made no provision for the withdrawal of Eritrean troops, who fought on the side of the federal government and who were accused by the United States and human rights groups of some of the worst abuses in the bloody conflict.

Convoys leaving

On the ground in Tigray, locals told AFP that convoys of Eritrean troops have been leaving the towns of Shire and Adwa, although some soldiers remained.

“I saw some Eritrean forces leaving Shire towards the northeast. I don’t know if they’re making a full retreat,” said one resident, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another local confirmed having seen a convoy of trucks, buses, tanks and artillery pieces rolling out of town.

However, he said some Eritrean soldiers were still “walking the streets and around the markets” on Saturday.

“People are waiting to find out if the Eritrean forces are really withdrawing,” one resident in Adwa told AFP on Saturday. “There have already been announcements of Eritrean soldiers leaving, only for them to come back later from other directions.”

With access to Tigray limited, it is impossible to independently verify the situation on the ground.

The withdrawal has not yet been confirmed by peace deal signatories or the agreement’s observation mission.

War toll unknown

The war broke out in November 2020 when the TPLF, which had held power in Ethiopia until the Abiy’s rise, attacked Ethiopian federal military facilities in Tigray.

Abiy, who had won the Nobel Peace Prize in part for reconciling with Eritrea, unleashed a major offensive against the TPLF, which at one point had appeared close to advancing on the capital Addis Ababa.

Situated on the border with Tigray, Eritrea sent in troops at the start of the conflict to support Ethiopian forces.

Addis Ababa and Asmara denied for months any Eritrean involvement in the conflict but Abiy later admitted their presence in March 2021.

The departure of Eritrean troops has been announced several times before but never verified.

The exact toll of the war, which has largely come to an end, remains unknown. The International Crisis Group think tank and Amnesty International have called it “one of the deadliest in the world”.

The conflict displaced more than two million people and left millions more in need of humanitarian aid.

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Some warring parties in Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis to enter peace process – Canada

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Canada will host talks “with a view to achieving a comprehensive, peaceful and political resolution” of the separatist conflict that has been plagued the English-speaking west of Cameroon for over six years.

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, announced a peace process aimed at resolving the ongoing war in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon. It is the latest bid to resolve the war in Cameroon.

On a press statement dated Friday, January 20, the minister said some warring parties had agreed on forming “technical committees to begin work on confidence-building measures.”

The parties involved are “the Republic of Cameroon, the Ambazonia Governing Council and the Ambazonia Defence Force, the African People’s Liberation Movement and the Southern Cameroons Defence Force, the Interim Government, and the Ambazonia Coalition Team.”

Mélanie Joly said “Canada accepted the mandate to facilitate this process, as part of our commitment to promote peace and security and advance support for democracy and human rights.”

She added that the parties taking part in this mediation expressed the hope “that other groups [would] join the process.”

Forgotten war

Since 2017, Cameroonian forces fights secessionist militants. Both sides have been accused of atrocities in the fighting which, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG), has killed more than 6,000 people.

“Civilians are bearing the brunt of the ongoing crisis in Cameroon,” Mélanie Joly said. “Nearly 800,000 people have been displaced as a result of this crisis, and 600,000 children do not have full access to education.”

Cameroonian authorities have not commented Canada’s announcement. During his New year address to the diplomatic corps in Yaoundé on January 6, president Paul Biya, insisted that his country “remained committed to the peaceful resolution of conflicts through dialogue and negotiation.

Canada called the agreement to enter a formal process a “critical first step toward peace and a safer, more inclusive and prosperous future for civilians affected by the conflict.”

“We encourage all stakeholders to support and work with the parties to advance and contribute to an inclusive process to reach a lasting and sustainable political settlement.”

In June 2019, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs announced the country would mediate in the political crisis raging in Cameroon’s English-speaking North West and South West regions.

Months later in September 2019, Cameroon organized a Grand National Dialogue. However, the five days of talks were boycotted by most separatist leaders, but gathered more than 1,000 participants. They recommended “special status” for the North West and South West regions, home to most of the anglophone minority that makes up 16 percent of Cameroon’s population.

Years later, the prospect of peace in the country’s Anglophone regions remains distant.

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