Three Suicide Bombers Kill 12 in Nigeria

At least 12 were killed and injured 26 by suspected suicide bombers on Monday in northeast Nigeria’s state of Borno, epicenter of the ultra-hardliners militant Boko Haram insurgency, the chairman of the local emergency agency said.

“Three suicide bomber infiltrated a settlement called Mashimari, in Konduga Local Government,” Reuters cited Ahmed Satomi, chairman of Borno’s State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA). The area is around 35 kilometers southeast of the state capital, Maiduguri.

Another SEMA official said the suicide bombers joined a gathering of farmers in Mashimari before detonating their devices around 11:45 a.m. (1045 GMT) as they mingled with the group.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the use of suicide bombers is a hallmark of Boko Haram.

Boko Haram, which is trying to create an Islamic state in the Lake Chad region that includes northeast Nigeria, has killed more than 20,000 people and caused over two million to flee their homes since 2009.

Amnesty: Over 300 Civilians Killed by Boko Haram since April

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The Boko Haram extremist group has killed over 300 civilians in Nigeria and Cameroon since April, revealed Amnesty International on Tuesday.

The rights group said that 381 people were killed in what it described as a resurgence of the extremist organization.

The spike in attacks by the extremists is a result of increased use of suicide bombers, often women and girls, who carry out the attacks in highly populated areas in Cameroon’s Far North region and Nigeria’s Borno and Adamawa states, the rights group said. Cameroon has experienced at least one suicide attack per week, it said.

Boko Haram has killed 223 civilians in Nigeria since April. Boko Haram suicide bombers have killed 81 people in Nigeria since the start of April, said Amnesty.

In Cameroon, the extremists have killed at least 158 people in the same period. That is also linked to a rise in suicide bombings, the deadliest of which killed 16 people in Waza in July, the rights group said.

The number of deaths since April 1 is more than double that for the preceding five months, Amnesty said.

“Boko Haram is once again committing war crimes on a huge scale, exemplified by the depravity of forcing young girls to carry explosives with the sole intention of killing as many people as they possibly can,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty’s director for West and Central Africa.

“This wave of shocking Boko Haram violence, propelled by a sharp rise in suicide bombings, highlights the urgent need for protection and assistance for millions of civilians in the Lake Chad region.”

The Nigerian military has repeatedly said Boko Haram has been “defeated”. But in recent months, it has carried out a string of lethal suicide bombings and other high-profile attacks on towns and an oil exploration team.

In Nigeria, the deadliest attack was in July, when the extremists abducted an oil exploration team with staff of the state oil firm and a university while they were traveling in a military convoy. Boko Haram killed 40 people and kidnapped three others, Amnesty said.

Nigeria and Cameroon’s governments should take swift action to protect civilians in need of humanitarian assistance, it demanded. Boko Haram’s increased attacks have made it difficult to carry out humanitarian operations.

“The international community should also rapidly scale up its commitment to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to the millions in the region who need it,” urged Tine.

Boko Haram extremists have been crossing into and attacking towns in neighboring countries, including Cameroon and Niger, that contribute to a regional military force trying to eliminate the insurgency.

More than 2.5 million people have been displaced or become refugees in the Lake Chad region – which includes Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad – while 7.2 million people lack secure access to food because of the conflict with Boko Haram, according to the United Nations.

The insurgency has left more than 20,000 people dead since it began in 2009.

£200 Mn British Pledge to Help Nigeria Fight Boko Haram

Britain will give Nigeria aid worth £200 million over five years to help it cope with its eight-year insurgency being waged by Boko Haram militants, the foreign ministry in London said Wednesday.

“In Maiduguri I met casualties of Boko Haram violence, including bomb and gunshot victims, and saw for myself the displacement of people that brutality and poverty have created,” Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

Johnson visited Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s northeast Borno State and epicenter of the Boko Haram organization, to meet some of those involved in the fight.

The £200 million ($260 million, 220 million euros) will help supply food to 1.5 million people facing famine as a result of the bloody insurgency, while providing treatment for 120,000 children at risk of malnutrition and assisting 100,000 children with education needs.

British military teams will also continue to help prepare Abuja’s security forces for counter-insurgency operations, having already helped to train 28,500 Nigerian personnel.

The extremist group has increasingly used child suicide bombers and targeted civilians in its insurgency which has left at least 20,000 dead and displaced more than 2.6 million.

The British pledge of £200 million came after the Pentagon said it has notified the US Congress of the sale to Nigeria of 12 Super Tucano A-29 planes and weapons worth $593 million, which the West African country wants for its fight against Boko Haram.

The Federal Register on Monday published the Aug. 2 notification from the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation
Agency. The Super Tucano A-29, an agile, propeller-driven plane with reconnaissance and surveillance as well as attack capabilities, is made by Brazil’s Embraer.

Nigeria’s President Says Unity not Negotiable

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari took to state TV on Monday in his first speech since returning from a long medical absence in Britain, saying separatists calling for the breakup of Nigeria have crossed a red line and the country’s unity is not negotiable.

“I was distressed to notice that some of the comments (in my absence), especially in the social media have crossed national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation. This is a step too far,” he said.

“The national consensus is that it is better to live together than to live apart,” added Buhari, who returned to Nigeria on Saturday after more than 100 days away from the west African nation of 190 million people.

Nigeria is facing a number of breakaway movements, including the Indigenous People of Biafra led by fierce Buhari critic Nnamdi Kanu in the country’s southeast which is dominated by the Igbo ethnic group.

The group has become increasingly vocal in its bid to win independence in recent weeks, with Kanu previously appearing in images meeting a private army of young men.

Arewa, a radical youth group in the country’s north, has issued an October 1 deadline for all Igbo people to leave the region.

Boko Haram jihadists have meanwhile been fighting a bloody insurgency in the country’s northeast since 2009 in a bid to establish a hardline state, a battle that has so far claimed at least 20,000 lives and forced some 2.6 million others to flee their homes.

Buhari, 74, who took office in May 2015, handed over power to his deputy, Christian southerner Yemi Osinbajo, when he traveled to Britain on May 7 for treatment of an unspecified ailment.

In his televised speech, Buhari vowed renewed energy for the fight against “terrorists and criminals”, singling out Boko Haram, kidnappers and those responsible for ethnic violence.

“We will tackle them all,” he said.

Dozens of Casualties in Nigeria Suicide Bombings

Three women suicide bombers blew themselves up at the entrance to a camp for displaced people in northeast Nigeria on Tuesday, killing 28 people and wounding 82, in an attack bearing the hallmark of Boko Haram militants, local sources said.

The attack — the latest in a string of assaults in the troubled region — took place in the town of Mandarari, 25 kilometers from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, said Baba Kura, a member of a vigilante force set up to fight militants.

“Three female bombers triggered their explosive outside of the IDP (internally displaced persons) camp… killing 28 people and wounding 82 others,” Kura said.

The first assailant blew herself up, triggering panic, Kura said.

“People were trying to close their shops when two other female bombers triggered their explosives, causing most of the casualties,” he said.

Ibrahim Liman, the head of a local anti-militant militia force, confirmed the details of the attack, and said that more than 80 injured had been taken to Maiduguri hospital.

A source at the hospital said a “huge number” of patients had arrived.

Northeast Nigeria is a hotbed of activity by Boko Haram, involving shootings, bombings and kidnappings.

Sources: Dozens of Casualties in Boko Haram Attack on Nigeria Oil Team

More than 50 people, including civilians and members of the military, were killed in a Boko Haram ambush on an oil exploration team in northeast Nigeria earlier this week, multiple sources have told Agence France Presse.

Tuesday’s attack in the Magumeri area of Borno state on a convoy of specialists from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was the militants’ deadliest in months.

The army said on Wednesday that 10 people were killed in the attack.

But one source involved in dealing with the aftermath told AFP on Thursday: “The death toll keeps mounting. Now we have more than 50… and more bodies are coming in. 

“It’s clear that the attack wasn’t for abduction. They (Boko Haram) attacked just to kill.”

An aid agency worker in Magumeri, which is 50 kilometers northwest of Maiduguri, said 47 bodies were recovered from the bush as of Wednesday evening.

“Eleven of them were badly burned in the attack. They were burned alive in their vehicle,” he added. 

“This evening (Thursday), six more bodies were recovered, including one soldier, and many more could be recovered because search and rescue teams are all over the place.”

A medical source at the Nigerian Army 7th Division headquarters at Maimalari barracks in Maiduguri said: “So far we have 18 dead soldiers. Ten were brought yesterday and eight more today.” 

At the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), a medical worker said: “We have 19 bodies at the moment of civilians. 

“Fifteen of them were vigilantes (civilian militia) and four were staff from the university. They have been taken for burial.” 

The head of the academic staff union at the University of Maiduguri, Dani Mamman, confirmed they had received four bodies and said two of them were academics.

“We got the impression our staff on the team were rescued because that was what the military spokesman said yesterday,” he added. 

“But we were shocked when we were given four dead bodies. This means it wasn’t a rescue.
 
“We still have other staff that are yet to be accounted for.”

In a statement, Nigeria’s junior oil minister and the former head of the NNPC Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu described the attack as “unfortunate” but declined to comment on the death toll. 

Nigerian Minister of Defense Mansur Ali blamed the summer wet season for the spike in attacks in the northeast and the loss of control of territory that the army clawed back from Boko Haram last year.

Oil Survey Team Kidnapped by Boko Haram in Northeast Nigeria

Suspected Boko Haram militants have kidnapped 10 members of a geological research team from the University of Maiduguri in northeast Nigeria, the state oil company said on Wednesday.

Nigerian National Petroleum Company spokesman Ndu Ughamadu said the contractors were kidnapped near Jibi village in Borno state on Tuesday afternoon.

“About 10 members of the University of Maiduguri geology and surveying department were abducted by suspected Boko Haram members,” Ughamadu said, noting that the group included academic staff, drivers and other workers.

The University of Maiduguri said some of its lecturers, who were accompanied by security staff, had not returned on Tuesday from an oil prospecting trip. Its spokesman said the university was waiting for a report from security agencies.

NNPC has been surveying for more than a year for what it says could be vast oil reserves in the Lake Chad Basin, a region wracked by Boko Haram’s eight-year insurgency, which has killed at least 20,000 people and forced millions to flee their homes.

OPEC member Nigeria relies on crude oil for two-thirds of government revenue. Attacks on energy facilities in its southern Niger Delta oil heartland last year cut production by more than a third, deepening the recession in Africa’s biggest economy.

Also Wednesday, emergency officials in Nigeria’s largest city said at least five people were killed after a residential building collapsed in Lagos.

Authorities said at least 15 people have been rescued from the rubble of the four-story building that collapsed Tuesday afternoon. Officials have not said what caused the collapse.

Rescue efforts continued overnight and into Wednesday morning.

Saudi Arabia Cuts Oil Exports by 1 Million Bpd

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St. Petersburg – Brent crude oil rose more than $1 on Monday after Saudi Arabia pledged to cut exports in August to 6.6 million barrels per day to help reduce the global crude glut, almost 1 million bpd below levels a year ago.

OPEC said stocks held by industrial nations had fallen by 90 million barrels over January to June, but were still 250 million barrels above the five-year average, which is the target level for OPEC and non-OPEC countries.

Speaking at the meeting of the 4th OPEC-Non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said OPEC and non-OPEC partners were committed to cut output longer if necessary but would demand that non-compliant nations stick to the agreement.

The market was under pressure because OPEC committed to reducing production and increase production of OPEC members Nigeria and Libya which have been exempt from the output cuts.

On Monday, OPEC was heading towards setting a limit on Nigerian oil production and asked other members to commit to reduction.

OPEC has agreed with several non-OPEC producers led by Russia to cut oil output by a combined 1.8 million bpd as of January 2017 until the end of March 2018.

Libya and Nigeria were exempted from the limits to help their oil industries recover from years of unrest.

The deal to curb output propelled crude prices above $58/barrel in January but they have since slipped back to a $45 to $50 range as the effort to drain global inventories has taken longer than expected.

An OPEC and non-OPEC states ministerial committee that monitors the global oil pact said it had agreed Nigeria would join the deal by cutting its output from 1.8 million bpd, once it stabilizes at that level from 1.7 million bpd recently. The committee did not set a timeframe for when this would happen, saying it would track Nigerian production patterns in the next weeks.

The committee did not back capping Libyan output as it said its production was unlikely to exceed 1 million bpd in the near future compared to its capacity of 1.4 million-1.6 million bpd before unrest erupted in 2011.

Libya’s oil production has reached 1.069 million bpd, a Libyan oil source told Reuters.

Libya produces over 1 million bpd, less than its production capabilities ranging between 1.4 and 1.6 million bpd.

OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said Nigeria had no intention of going beyond its production target of 1.8 million bpd, reiterating there was no discussion of deeper output cuts.

Russia and Saudi Arabia face mounting pressure to prop up oil prices. Russia, which is heavily reliant on oil revenues, holds a presidential election next year. Saudi Arabia needs higher prices to balance its budget and support next year’s planned listing of state oil firm Saudi Aramco.

“We must acknowledge that the market has turned bearish with several key factors driving these sentiments,” Falih told the meeting of the monitoring committee.

Falih said weaker compliance with cuts by some OPEC states and a rise in OPEC exports had led to a softer crude price.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have cut more than they pledged but others, such as the United Arab Emirates and Iraq, have shown relatively weak adherence to the limits.

“Some countries continue to lag which is a concern we must address head on,” Falih said, adding that “exports have now become the key matrix to financial markets and we need to find a way to reconcile credible exports data with production data.”

Falih said the committee spoke to those who were lagging and said they pledged to boost compliance.

The Saudi minister said global oil demand was expected to grow by about 1.4 million to 1.6 million bpd next year, similar to 2017 and so should more than offset rising US output.

Chair of ministerial monitoring committee Kuwait said OPEC could call an extraordinary meeting to include Nigeria and could extend existing production curbs till after March 2018 if markets failed to re-balance.

Russia’s energy minister Alexander Novak told reporters that Nigeria and Libya should join the deal to cut global oil production agreed by OPEC and Russia as soon as their output stabilizes.

Novak also said that an additional 200,000 bpd could be removed from the market if compliance with a global deal to cut output was 100 percent.

“We believe that once oil output in Libya and Nigeria stabilizes, there will be less uncertainty on the market as to their future moves,” Novak said.

Non-OPEC member Oman’s oil minister Mohammed al Rumhy told reporters he saw no need for additional production cuts from OPEC and non-OPEC producers.

Since the beginning July, Russia’s production was reduced between 303,000 and 305,000 bpd.

Boko Haram Suspects Arrested as Suicide Bombers Hit Nigeria Camps

Police in the northern Nigerian city of Kano said they arrested five suspected Boko Haram militants following a gunfight Sunday as eight people were killed after female suicide bombers attacked two displaced persons camps in northeastern Nigeria’s main city of Maiduguri.

The arrested suspects were taken into custody on the outskirts of Kani as they were about to launch attacks on markets and “places of worship”, the city’s state police chief Rabiu Yusuf told reporters.

Intelligence indicated that “the remnant of a Boko Haram group who escaped from Sambisa Forest were regrouping in some states in the north including Kano,” Yusuf said.

The suspected militants opened fire and hurled home-made explosives, injuring three policemen, said Yusuf.

Police arrested five suspects, three men and two women, including a 20-year old Nigerien national, Yusuf added.

Guns, explosives, military uniforms and face masks were recovered from the suspects.

The arrests came as a civilian self-defense group said at least eight people were killed in the Maiduguri suicide bombings that left another 15 people wounded.

Spokesman Bello Danbatta told The Associated Press that the attack started late Sunday night.

Danbatta said one bomber sneaked into the Dalori camp and detonated, and two other attackers exploded on or near the camp’s perimeter fence.

Barkindo: OPEC was Anticipating Revival in Libya, Nigeria, Iran Oil Production

Istanbul- OPEC wants an “orderly recovery” in oil production from Libya, Nigeria and Iran and has a flexible output target under its cuts agreement to accommodate more crude from the three member nations, the group’s Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo has said.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was anticipating a revival in production from the three when it set a targeted output range from 32.5 million to 33 million barrels a day under its November agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC producers, Barkindo told Bloomberg Television on Wednesday at a conference in Istanbul.

“What we would like to see is an orderly recovery that would not disrupt significantly the re-balancing of the market, which is a very delicate process which has taken longer than expected because of the change in fundamentals,” Barkindo said. By setting a range for the production ceiling, OPEC was “making provisions for the expected recovery of production” from Libya, Nigeria and Iran, he said.

Libya and Nigeria were both exempted from the cuts due to their internal strife, while Iran was allowed to raise production by 90,000 barrels a day as it was recovering from US sanctions. 

Libya and Nigeria are expected to send representatives to the next meeting of the OPEC and non-OPEC Joint Technical Committee on July 22 in Russia, Barkindo said.

OPEC recognizes that Libya, Nigeria, and Iran have faced “severe challenges,” and it welcomes their increased production, he said. “We are glad these countries are recovering fast.”

Libya’s output has risen to 1.05 million barrels a day, or 45,000 barrels a day more than the country was pumping at the beginning of July, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified for lack of authorization to speak to the media. The nation’s output is at the highest level since June 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The global cuts accord between OPEC and non-OPEC producers faced “headwinds” in the first quarter this year and didn’t cause crude stockpiles to decline fast enough, Barkindo said. 

Supply and demand now “show us we are on the right course” to achieving OPEC’s goal of reducing stockpiles to their five-year average, he said.

Shale producers “need to join us so that together we can restore stability and maintain it,” Barkindo said. “The global economy itself benefits from stable oil markets.”