CAIRO: An Egyptian military court sentenced eight members of the Islamic State group to death on Wednesday for a deadly attack against the army in 2016, several regime sources told the Media.
The court in Ismailia in the country’s northeast also sentenced 32 people to life imprisonment – a term of 25 years under Egyptian law – while two others were given 15 years. Two defendants were acquitted, a military source said.
The eight who were sentenced to death were not present in court, a judicial source told AFP without elaborating.
The accused were tried for “the killing of several soldiers and the attack on a checkpoint and an army vehicle” in 2016, the military source said, without giving further details.
All were identified as members of the Egyptian branch of IS, which has led an insurgency in North Sinai and carried out several attacks across the country. Egypt’s army launched a major offensive in February dubbed “Sinai 2018” to dislodge the insurgents from the peninsula.
More than 450 suspected jihadists and around 30 Egyptian soldiers have been killed since the offensive began, the army said in October.
7 UN peacekeepers killed in Congo
BENI: Seven United Nations peacekeepers were killed in an operation against a rebel militia in eastern DR Congo, the UN said on Thursday.
Ten other peacekeeping troops were wounded, and another is missing, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York.
Several Congolese were also killed or wounded in the joint operation, he said.
The deaths mark the biggest loss by the large UN force in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the rebels killed 15 troops nearly a year ago.
Earlier Thursday, General Bernard Commins, deputy head of the MONUSCO force, said a joint operation had been launched with DRC troops on Tuesday against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a jihadi group blamed for bloody attacks on civilians.
The offensive aimed at Kididiwe, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Beni, a city of between 200,000 and 300,000 inhabitants, said Commins.
“We are holding Kididiwe at present, after violent fighting with an armed group. At present, we are evacuating wounded Congolese troops and Blue Helmets,” he told AFP. He added he was unable to provide any information about reports at that time of fatalities.
Six peacekeepers from Malawi and one from Tanzania were killed, the UN said in New York.
Malawi’s armed forces confirmed earlier that four of its soldiers with MONUSCO — a sergeant and three privates aged between 29 and 38 — had been killed on Wednesday.
The military “has lost courageous, hardworking and disciplined soldiers who were always ready to serve to ensure that peace prevails,” the Malawi Defence Force said in a statement.
It gave no further details on where or how they died.
Commins described Kididiwe as a “major stronghold” of the ADF.
A Congolese officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the town had been used as a springboard for militia attacks on Beni’s suburbs this year.
On Wednesday, Commins said MONUSCO had deployed attack helicopters against ADF forces threatening UN troops in the Mayangose area, northeast of Beni.
The region is also battling an Ebola outbreak that has left more than 200 dead. Insecurity is hampering efforts to contain the disease, the UN spokesman said.
S.Africa public broadcaster says no wages by March
JOHANNESBURG: South Africa’s cash-strapped public broadcaster on Tuesday warned it would be unable to pay its workers by March if it fails to secure a loan.
South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) directors told lawmakers that the company requires three billion rands ($207 million) and that it had launched a process to lay off a third of its full-time employees. By “February we might not even be able to pay full salaries. March is our day zero if nothing happens,” board member Mathatha Tsedu told a committee of members of parliament. The directors said the company had on Tuesday approached the labor arbitration agency to retrench 981 of its 3,370 staffers.
Another 1,200 of its 2,400 freelancers are also earmarked for dismissal. SABC posted losses of 622 million rands ($45 million) in the financial year ending March 2018. It projects that this will deepen to 803 million rands by the end of March next year. “The threat of commercial insolvency is increasing quite significantly,” said company CEO Madoda Mxakwe. The company’s financial troubles worsened during the tenure of its former chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, an ally of ex-president Jacob Zuma. The SABC has three free-to-air television channels and 18 stations broadcasting in all of the country’s 11 official languages.
US army punishes 6: Niger ambush
WASHINGTON: The US Army has punished six people for their roles in a 2017 mission in Niger that resulted in the ambush deaths of four Americans and five allied Nigerien troops, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The ambush occurred on 4th October 2017, as a unit of 12 American special forces soldiers and 30 Nigerien troops, returning from a village near the Malian border, were overrun by scores of jihadists.
An investigative report released by the Pentagon in May said that while US soldiers had fought bravely and four “died with honor,” they had not been properly prepared for the mission. Investigators cited “individual, organizational and institutional failures.”
Those being disciplined, the Times said Saturday, including Captain Mike Perozeni, the leader of the Green Beret team, as well as his second in command, a master sergeant whose name has been withheld.
The paper said a letter of reprimand to Perozeni cited the insufficient training and a lack of mission rehearsals.
Two senior officers who approved the mission and oversaw the ill-fated operation were not reprimanded, according to the newspaper.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to an AFP request for confirmation of the report’s details.
It has been tight-lipped about the nature of the mission in Niger — the existence of which surprised many Americans.
The Times account said Perozeni’s Green Beret unit, Team 3212, had headed toward the Niger-Mali border in pursuit of an Islamic State group leader named Doundoun Cheffou.
After intelligence located him, an operation was planned against the leader’s camp by a helicopter-borne team of American commandos and Nigerien troops, along with Team 3212.
But bad weather led to the helicopter mission being canceled. Team 3212 proceeded to the now-empty campsite. It was ambushed by some 50 heavily armed Islamic State fighters while returning to its outpost.
The ambush claimed the largest loss of American lives in combat in Africa since the “Black Hawk Down” incident in Somalia in 1993.
It also touched off the debate about the presence of the 800 American troops in Niger and the larger purpose of the US military in Africa.
General Thomas Waldhauser, head of Africa Command, said in May that US forces had since become “far more prudent” in their missions and had beefed up their firepower.