The military and independent investigators are at odds over what happened at the northern Nigerian village of Baga on April 21, when civilians were caught in the crossfire between army troops and Boko Haram fighters. Senator Maina Maaji, who represents Borno state in the National Assembly reports that he counted 228 graves and over 4,000 destroyed houses in Baga, his hometown, on a fact-finding mission. The senator, who spoke to journalists in nearby Maiduguri April 27, alleged that those killed were defenseless youths, children and women. Nigeria's Defense Headquarters says it sent its own fact-finding team to Baga, and determined only 37 were killed. It also denied eport that it had arrested 15 soldiers in connection with the attack on Baga. The Red Cross protested that Nigerian soldiers restricted access to Baga in the days after the massacre. (Premium Times, Abuja, April 29; Daily Trust, Abuja, April 28 via AllAfrica; PM Press, Abuja, April 28; PM Press, April 23)
Deputy commander of the JEM-Bashar rebel faction and international war crimes suspect Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus has reportedly been killed in Northern Darfur. The group reported his death on April 22, which was later confirmed by his defense team. Jamus was charged in connection with an attack on African Union peacekeepers in September 2007 at Haskanita, which resulted in the death of 12 peacekeepers. He was charged with three war crimes: violence to life and attempted violence to life; intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units and vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission; and pillaging. His hearing was scheduled to begin in May.
The US Department of Justice on April 15 accused Guinea-Bissau's top military official, Gen. Antonio Indjai, of plotting a cocaine-for-weapons deal with Colombia's FARC rebels, according to court documents seen by Reuters. The indictment, filed in district court in Manhattan, charges Indjai on four counts: "narco-terrorism conspiracy"; conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization; cocaine importation conspiracy; and conspiracy to acquire and transfer anti-aircraft missiles. The supposed deal came to light after Guinea-Bissau's former navy chief and six henchmen were arrested on the high seas by US forces.
The US Supreme Court ruled unanimously April 17 in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum that nothing in the Alien Tort Statute of 1789 (ATS) rebuts the US presumption against extraterritoriality and that suits challenging torture and international law violations that took place overseas cannot be brought in US Court. Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority opinion. Kiobel was held over from last term when the court decided that the parties should brief on the circumstance when the ATS should apply extraterritorially. In the new ruling the court held that extraterritorial disputes—those concerning foreign actors that violate treaties to which the US is a party—cannot be litigated in the US under the ATS, and "sufficient force" is necessary to displace that presumption. The opinion also suggested that "mere corporate presence" will not suffice to bring suit in the US:
Al-Shabaab radicals launched an assault on April 14 against Somalia's Supreme Court. The attack, resulting in at least 35 deaths, was one of the worst attacks in years for the country's capital of Mogadishu. According to the Somali government, nine men were involved in the attack against the court, six of whom detonated explosive vests. Al-Shabab retained control over most of Somalia's capital before Somali forces and the African Union forced the militants out of Mogadishu in 2011. Since being forced out of the capital, al-Shabaab has carried out a series of bomb attack in the city, with the new coordinated attack amounting to the largest one since 2011. The Somali government reported that all of the attackers died, with some killed by security forces.
UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson on April 12 called on the international community to protect Burkina Faso from terrorism, warning that attacks on the country's infrastructure or security would undermine social cohesion within the country, impair inward investment and further destabilize the region. Burkina Faso is particularly vulnerable due to its geographical proximity to the conflict in Mali, with which it shares a border. Emmerson described the country's role in regional peace negotiations:
The UN Security Council on March 28 unanimously approved the first-ever "offensive" UN peacekeeping brigade, to fight rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The force of more than 2,500 troops will operate under orders to "neutralize" and "disarm" rebel forces in the resource-rich east of the country. The intervention brigade is unprecedented in UN peacekeeping because of its offensive mandate. The resolution states that it will be established for one year "on an exceptional basis and without creating a precedent" to the principles of UN peacekeeping. The force, to be deployed in July, will include troops from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi. The UN currently has some 18,000 troops in the DRC, and has been widely accused of doing little to stop the violence in the eastern region. The latest rebellion flared a year ago, and has forced some 800,000 from their homes.
At least 163 were reported dead March 28 in clashes at Okello, in Pibor county of South Sudan's Jonglei state, pitting government troops against a rebel force whose commander David Yau Yau is said to be among the slain. (See map.) South Sudan accuses Khartoum of supporting the rebels, with military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer saying a seized airstrip was used for arms drops. He suggested Sudan is arming the rebellion in a bid to block the South's plans to build an oil pipeline through Ethiopia to a port in Djibouti. Aguer said the South's military, the SPLA, would continue to "deal with the militia group." (The Guardian, March 28) A Kenyan route for the pipeline has also been broached, with the aim of freeing the South from having to export oil through Khartoum's territory.