African Defence Review

WEEKINAFRICA

24 April 2018

The WEEKINAFRICA is a collection of key defence and security stories happening on the continent that the writers at African Defence review have picked up on. Things we can't write about at length, but which we felt you should know about.

Please pass it on to friends who could use this weekly security update.

India battalion watchtower at Malakal protection of civilians (POC) site in Upper Nile, South Sudan. Richard Stupart/ADR

April 23, 2018

Reports of Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic

Central African Republic

According to a new report from Conflict Intelligence Team, the 170 civilian instructors sent by the Russian government to the Central African Republic are likely members of the ‘Wagner’ mercenary group.

These, along with five military personnel and a shipment of weapons (900 Makarov pistols, 5200 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 840 Kalashnikov machine guns, 140 sniper rifles, 270 RPG man-portable anti-tank rocket launchers and 20 man-portable anti-air defense systems, according to the report) are part of an official Russian government training and assistance package to the Central African Republic military. [source]

If it’s confirmed that the instructors sent to the CAR are indeed members of the Wagner group, it represents both a potential escalation in the conflict and has led some analysts to question the underlying motives. The apparent lack of coordination with the existing UN peacekeeping force in the country, MINUSCA, may present problems too. While there’s nothing wrong in principle with training programmes that improve the capabilities of local forces, caution is warranted when such interventions are done with much secrecy and questionable intentions.

April 23, 2018

Soldiers attempt to loot UAE training facility in Mogadishu

Somalia

In Mogadishu, a group of SNA soldiers reportedly attempted to loot a UAE-operated training facility, resulting in a brief firefight with other SNA troops stationed at the facility – before Presidential Palace Guards intervened to secure the facility. Other SNA soldiers who had received training at the facility had reportedly fled, with their weapons. The Somali government had previously announced that it was ending the UAE training programme, and UAE personnel had begun clearing away various materiel.  [source]

April 23, 2018

President Lourenco sacks his FAA chief of staff and intelligence head

Angola

President Joao Lourenco sacked the Angolan Armed Forces Chief of Staff, General Geraldo Nunda, and the head of the Foreign Intelligence Agency, André de Oliveira Sango, as part of President Lourenco’s ongoing efforts to clean the corruption-tainted house of his predecessor, Jose dos Santos. Nunda is a suspect in an investigation involving a USD50 billion credit line fraud, while Sango was a decade-long ally of dos Santos. [source]

April 21, 2018

Rockets fired at MINUSMA base in Timbuktu

Mali

Unknown persons fired at least three rockets – possibly improvised rockets – which appear to have landed outside of the MINUSMA/French “Super Base” near the Timbuktu Airport, without causing any damage or casualties. The base was the site of a complex attack the previous week, in which militants disguised as peacekeepers detonating several VBIEDs, launched mortars or rockets at the base, and attempted a ground assault, before being driven off by combined MINUSMA/French forces.  [source]

April 20, 2018

SPLA Chief dies of natural causes

South Sudan

The SPLA Chief of Defence Force, General James Ajongo, died in Cairo after a brief illness. Ajongo has replaced Paul Malong after he was fired by President Kiir. Malong has recently formed his own opposition group, which has variously been described as an opposition political party, to a rebel force. [source]