afrol News, 1 March - The President of Chad, Idriss Deby, today announced that two of the key Islamist leaders recently terrorising northern Mali have been shot dead by his troops. At the same time, Chad mourns 26 casualties among its troops in Mali.
Chad is among the Western African states supporting the French-Malian military operation against Islamist terrorism in northern Mali. Chadian troops were among the first to enter Mali, at the same time as the French, and they are seen as the most experienced in Western and Central Africa.
President Deby today headed a memorial service to the 26 Chadian army soldiers that reportedly were killed during a larger battle in the remote Ifoghas Mountains in the north-eastern part of Mali, close to the Algerian border, on 22 February. The Ifoghas Mountains are known to host some of the few remaining retreats of the Islamists that had taken control over parts of Mali until international troops in a French-led operation forced them to retreat in January.
During the ceremony, President Deby also confirmed that the "martyrs" had participated in a battle where "two important jihadist leaders" had been killed. There already had been rumours on Malian and Algerian broadcasters that the terrorist Abdelhamid Abou Zeid had lost his life in the Ifoghas Mountains, and this was confirmed by the Chadian leader today.
Abou Zeid, an Algerian citizen, around 40 years old, has been on the "most wanted" list ever since the kidnapping of 32 European tourists in the vast Algerian part of the Sahara desert in 2003. He further was said to have plaid a key role in the Islamist conquer of northern Mali and the following rule of terror in the territory.
President Deby assigned military decorations to the deceased soldiers posthumously and emphasised that they had not given their lives without purpose. With French support, Chadian troops had "freed Kidal, Tessali and the Ifoghas Mountains," recalled the President, however adding that "the war is not yet over."
Chad and several neighbouring countries, in particular Niger, are concerned that the escaping jihadist main gain control over sparsely populated desert regions in their own countries. Both therefore supported the Malian government's call for international forces to fight the extremists, and both were quick to send in supportive troops to assist the French liberation of northern Mali in January.
Over 2,000 Chadian troops currently are engaged in the Mali military operation, thus being the largest African military contingent placed in the country.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.