MAY 19, 2019
An IED explosion hit a tourist bus and a private vehicle traveling near the Grand Egyptian Museum located about 3 Km/ 2 miles from the Giza pyramids. At least 16 people, including 12 South African tourists and four locals, were lightly wounded in the blast. The bombing marked the second such attack on foreign tourists near the Pyramids within five months in what is seems to be a deliberate attempt to hurt the nation’s tourism industry, which only recently started to recover following the downing of Russian plane over Sharm el-Sheikh in 2015. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
MAY 15, 2019
The U.S. State Department (DOS) has ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. Government employees from Iraq, both at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Consulate in Erbil. As result of the security situation visa services at both posts would be temporarily suspended. The DOS decision comes amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran, which could lead to an Iranian attack against U.S. regional interests. Germany and the Netherlands also announced the suspension of military training of Iraqi troops due to the current security situation.
MAY 13, 2019
The Lebanese national, Ashraf Rida Shour, who was kidnapped in Abidjan, was freed. Talking to reporters his brother said that the gang who kidnapped Shour had demanded ransom in return for his release, but the family kept negotiating with the kidnappers as Abidjan police tracked them down and freed him. The demanded ransom amount, as well as details of the rescue operation and the kidnappers’ identities, was not made public. (dailystar.com.lb, 16 May 2019)
A Lebanese national, identified as 35-year-old Ashraf Rida Shour, was kidnapped at around 9:15 p.m. by four men-- two of them armed– outside his Paris Baguette Bakery in the Abobo neighborhood in Abidjan. The men forced Shour into his own vehicle and sped away to an unknown location. During the kidnapping the two-armed men fired several shots in the air to scare off the man’s employees and bystanders from attempting to aid him. Police found the victim’s abandoned vehicle about two hours later in the town of Agboville about 80Km/ 50 miles north of the kidnapping location. The motive behind the kidnapping remains unknown as the kidnappers have yet to contact the victim’s family with any demands. Kidnapping for ransom of foreigners, including long-term expatriate in Ivory Coast is rear. The country as well as the West African countries of Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria ahost a large number of Lebanese expatriates, primarily from south Lebanon. (dailystar.com.lb, 14 May 2019 & lorientlejour.com, 14 May 2019)
MAY 01, 2019
During an overnight operation, French special forces have freed four hostages, including two French tourists an American and a South Korean in the country’s north. The French hostages, were identified Patrick Picque (51) music teacher and Laurent Lassimouillas (46), a jewelry seller, while the identity of the American and South Korean nationals was not made public, but they were both said to be women. The circumstances surrounding the American hostage's capture were unclear, with some officials speculating that she had been in custody of captors for up to a month when she was rescued. Both the US and South Korean governments have declined to comment about its nationals, but media reports has suggested that the American woman was a tourist in her 60s while the Korean woman in her 40s were kidnapped of a bus that had some 10 people aboard on April 12. During the rescue operation two French soldiers and four of the militants were killed while to managed to escape. The French tourists and their local guide, who was later found dead, went missing in the Pendjari wildlife reserve, known for its elephants and lions in usually peaceful and stable Benin, but which lies close to the porous border with Burkina Faso where a number of jihadist groups, including the Ansarul Islam group, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara are active. (france24.com, 10 May 2019 & yahoo.com, 13 May 2019 & koreaherald.com, 12 May 2019)
The bullet riddle body of a local guide who disappeared along with two French tourists in the Pendjari National Park, located some 550Km/ 340 miles from the economic capital of Cotonou, was found near the burned car that group used across the border in Burkina Faso. The fate of the two who was identified by French authorities only as teachers, was unclear, but French media outlet citing unnamed regional sources, reported that the two had been kidnapped. The guide ‘s murder and kidnapping is a rare incident in Benin, which has largely escaped Islamic militants violence links to al Qaeda and Islamic State in West Africa. (france24.com, 5 May 2019 & reuters.com, 5 May 2019)
The French foreign affairs ministry confirmed the disappearance of two French tourists and their guide from a game drive in the Pendjari national park near the border with Burkina Faso. The French government has previously warned its citizens against traveling to parts of the country near the borders with Burkina Faso and Niger due to the risk of kidnapping. (reuters.com, 3 May 2019)
APRIL 26, 2019
A 30-year-old Indian businessman, Umpakan Chodri, who was kidnapped a day earlier by three gunmen in Ahwodwo, a suburb of Kumasi the capital city of the southern Ashanti Region, managed to escape his kidnappers. Chodri who was driving was told by occupants of a car that he had a flat tire, as he got out of his vehicle to check the tire, he was forcibly pushed inside their vehicle which sped away to an unknown destination. The kidnappers send his family text messages with images showing him bleeding from his nose and a handgun pointed at his head. They demanded a ransom of US$ 500,000 and threatened them not to involve the police or they will stop communication and dump his dead body at the roadside. The businessman managed to escape his kidnappers near Akokoamon primary /JHS school and sought help from a resident of a house nearby. With the help of the resident, he contacted his brother, who contacted the police. A team of police officers rushed to the house and picked him up to assist with investigations. (myjoyonline.com. 26 April 2019 & ghanaweb.com, 27 April 2019)
APRIL 26, 2019
Six people, including five teachers, were killed by jihadists during an attack on the village of Maïtaougou, loctated near the town of Comin-Yanga in Kulpélogo province in the Central-East region. Four teachers were killed in the attack that took place at around 5 p.m on the village school, while a fifth, who was seriously injured, died a few hours later. A town councilor from Comin-Yanga was also shot dead by the attackers. Though no group claimed responsibility for the attack, both Ansarul Islam p and the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) have targeted school in the region. Jihadist attacks were initially concentrated in the north of the country, but then the capital Ouagadougou and other regions were targeted. Since 2015, about 350 people have dead in the violence.
APRIL 21, 2019
In a statement via its affiliate Amaq news agency, the Islamic state (IS) has claimed responsibility for the coordinated Easter suicide bombings in the country. The group also released a photo of the alleged bombers and named them. The claim was released shortly after the government officially announced that the National Thawheed Jama’ut (NTJ) radical group, with suspected links to foreign militants, was behind the attacks. Though the minister of defense announced that initial investigation revealed that the attacks were carried out in retaliation for the March attacks on mosques in New Zealand, the planning and preparations of the attacks, likely to predate the Christchurch attacks. Meanwhile health officials stated that the death toll from the coordinated suicide bombing attacks rose to 321. The attacks, which exposed the security forces colossal failure to disrupt the attacks, despite prior warnings, will further escalate the political tensions between Prime Minister’s Wickremesinghe cabinet and President Maithripala Sirisena who is charge of the nation security forces.
Special Task Force (STF) bomb disposal technicians carried out a controlled detonation of van containing three IEDs in the vicinity of Saint Anthony's Church in the Kochchikade area of Colombo. There were no reports of casualties. Residents alerted the police about the vehicle that was parked at the location just minutes prior to the bombing at the church the previous day. Police also confirmed that officers found 87 detonators at the main bus station in the capital. Later in the day the government announced that it would initiate an emergency powers to security forces, which will go into effect at midnight. The emergency law allows the police and the military to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders.
At least 290 people were killed, including as many as 35 foreigners, and 500 were wounded in a series of seven suicide bombings attacks during Easter Sunday on three churches, including St. Sebastian church (in Negombo), St. Anthony's Church (in Kochchikade), Zion Church (in Batticaloa) and four luxury hotels in the capital Colombo, including the Shangri La Hotel, Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Kingsbury Hotel and the Tropical Inn. About seven hours after the bombings, security forces raided a house in the capital and arrested seven unidentified suspects in connection with the bombings. Three police officers were killed during the raid when another suspect blew himself up. In response to the attacks, the government declared a curfew in Colombo from 6 p.m. local time on 21 April 2019 to 6 a.m. 22 April 2019 and blocked social media sites and instant messaging apps. Military troops were deployed to other churches around the country and Colombo’s international airport after a large pipe bomb containing 50Kg/110 pound was found on the road leading to the facility. The attack was the first major attack in the country since the defeat of the Tamil Tigers and the end of the civil war. Though no group has claimed responsibility for the bombings, several media outlets reported that the local police had been notifies days earlier of intelligence suggesting the National Thawheed Jama’ut (NTJ) radical group was plotting attacks on prominent churches.