FOR first time, Nigeria says Boko Haram leader dead
Nigeria’s military on Wednesday claimed for the first time that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was dead, as it said troops had killed a lookalike who had been posing as the militant commander.
Defence spokesman Chris Olukolade told reporters in Abuja that a heavily bearded Islamist fighter identified as Mohammed Bashir died during fighting in the town of Konduga, in Borno state.
Bashir, who was said to have had several aliases, had “been acting or posing on videos as the deceased Abubakar Shekau, the eccentric character known as leader of the group”, he added.
The announcement is the first time the military has said publicly that Shekau was dead after two previous claims by security sources that he had died in July 2009 and in late June 2013.
The military did not, however, say how or when Shekau died.
Earlier this year, the spokeswoman for the country’s secret police, Marilyn Ogar, said “the original Shekau is dead” and that the person appearing in numerous videos was an imposter.
Olukolade said on Wednesday that the actual identity of Boko Haram’s leader was not relevant. The name “Shekau” had become a “brand name for the terrorists”, he told a news conference.
Kenya to close down radical Muslim schools
Kenyan authorities said that they would close down Islamic schools or madrassas teaching radical doctrines, in a bid to combat terrorism.
At least one madrassa in Machakos, 60 kilometres (37 miles) southeast of the capital Nairobi, has already been shut down after 30 youths were detained on suspicion of being recruited to join Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels.
Security officials said some madrassas in Nairobi, Mombasa and other major towns were being used as breeding grounds for radicalised youths who would later be recruited to join the Islamist fighters.
“We are not targeting the Muslim community as this has been an ongoing operation,” Kenyan interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka told AFP.
Ten terror suspects charged in Uganda court, remanded
Ten people arrested during a major security swoop in Uganda’s capital were remanded in custody Wednesday after appearing in court on terror-related charges.
Ugandan police carried out a wave of arrests and reportedly found explosives in the capital Kampala on September 13, just hours after the US embassy in Uganda told its citizens to stay indoors because of fears of an “imminent” attack.
On Wednesday a group of 10 people accused of being members of Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels appeared in a Kampala court, where the magistrate remanded them in custody and adjourned the case to October 7.
Nigeria free of Ebola, president Jonathan tells UN
President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday told an applauding UN General Assembly in New York that Nigeria was free of the deadly Ebola virus.
Back home doctors struck a cautious, saying they would have to wait to declare the outbreak over.
“There is nobody under surveillance for the Ebola virus in any part of Nigeria,” health ministry spokesman Dan Nwomeh told AFP.
“All those under surveillance have completed their mandatory 21-day period stipulated by the WHO (World Health Organization).”
Eight people have died out of 20 confirmed cases in Nigeria since July, according to the WHO.
The head of the Emergency Operation Centre for Ebola in Lagos, Faisal Shuaib, also said in an email that; “The outbreak in Nigeria can be declared officially over only if there are no more cases after 42 days”.
“Or two incubation periods from the last confirmed case,” he added.
Nigeria has not reported any new cases since September 8, the WHO said. If there are no further cases, Nigeria could be declared Ebola-free on October 20.
In all 529 people were placed under medical surveillance for signs of the disease in the commercial capital Lagos and the oil-producing Rivers State.
Elsewhere in West Africa, the situation remains dire, with nearly 3,000 dead, most of them in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The WHO has warned that the number of cases could explode while the CDC said 1.4 million people could be infected by January 2015.
ISIL behead Frenchman abducted in Algeria
Jihadists linked to the Islamic State group beheaded a Frenchman abducted in Algeria in a video posted online Wednesday, but President Francois Hollande vowed France would not give in to blackmail.
Hollande said the “cruel and cowardly” murder of Herve Gourdel would only strengthen France’s resolve to pursue its air war against the Islamic State group in Iraq.
The 55-year-old was kidnapped on Sunday by Jund al-Khilifa, or “Soldiers of the Caliphate,” while hiking in a national park that was once a magnet for tourists but later became a sanctuary for Islamists.
Russia still holding 355 African students over Ebola
Some 335 students from high-risk regions in Africa remain in quarantine in Russia for Ebola, a Russian health official said Wednesday.
About 1,000 residents from African countries were put in quarantine for the virus, and the majority has been cleared, the Interfax news agency quoted Chief Sanitary Inspector Anna Popova as saying.
No case of Ebola has been detected in Russia, she said, adding that due to high migration flows the country is not 100% guaranteed from the risk.
At Moscow’s airports visitors must walk through detectors that sound an alarm if the person’s body temperature is above normal.