What’s Going On: Rebel attack in DR Congo, reduced bail for Ugandan opposition leader & more
Pertinent headlines from across Africa
Pertinent headlines from across Africa
In the middle of the morning of Sunday mass, a tragedy occurred at St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, a city in Nigeria’s southwestern state of Ondo. Several gunmen descended on the church in an attack that wound up killing men, women and children. The attackers reportedly set off explosives, which forced churchgoers to flee outside, where they were then gunned down.
As of now, It’s still unknown how many people died. Reports from several sources say that as many as 50 people were killed. It is also unknown who exactly carried out the attack, or if they were associated with any particular group. As of now, no group has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack.
Photos and videos from after the brutal attacks have been circulating on the internet, with graphic imagery of blood soaked floors on the floor of the church. Members of the public have been shocked by the attack, especially as it comes during a time of rising insecurity in the country. Nigerian authorities have reported the deployment of a specialised police force to the surround area “to restore normalcy and fortify the entire community”. The Ondo police force have also deployed an anti-bomb squad.
"My dad who hid inside the confession box said he saw the assailants when they were closing the door; they were in military camouflage."
WITNESS INTERVIEW: Gunshots, Military Camouflage… How Terrorist Attack on Catholic Church Happened https://t.co/SK74i59gWB
— 'Fisayo Soyombo (@fisayosoyombo) June 6, 2022
In order to face an allegedly “high prevalence of fraudulent South African passports,” Irish low-cost airline Ryanair has announced a new policy to prove the citizenship of its passengers. This policy will involve passengers taking a questionnaire in Afrikaans.
While this may seem like a simple request to make, many South Africans have pointed out that the policy has racist implications. Afrikaans is only the third most spoken language in the country, with Zulu and Xhosa being the first and second. Afrikaans is a language that is heavily associated with the apartheid regime and eras of white Afrikanar nationalism. Many black South Africans were forced to speak in Afrikaans during apartheid. There have also been complaints that the questions themselves don’t do anything to prove if the passenger is a citizen.
Since this announcement, there have been calls to boycott Ryanair, made more intense by the airlines other controversy. Recently, British-Ugandan author Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi was not allowed to board a Ryanair flight back to her hometown Manchester, although she had a leave-to-remain card. Ryanair’s CEO has also been criticised in the past for saying that muslim men should be profiled as potential terrorists at airports. This South African situation is the latest controversy, and it’s even more incensing considering the airline doesn’t operate any direct flights to or from South Africa.
On the 5th of June, there was a deadly raid in the village of Bwanasura, Irumu territory, in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, that reportedly resulted in at least 18 casualties. The reported number of deaths has also gone much higher, with the head of the Red Cross in Irumu, David Beiza, saying that his volunteers “have counted 36 bodies.” The attack is believed to have been carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist rebel group. The attackers also reportedly torched up to 30 houses in Otmabert village, in the southern part of Irumu territory.
The ADF originated in Uganda in 1995. The United Nations reports that the group can been blamed for killing more than 1,300 people between January 2021 and January 2022. They have also been held responsible for massacres, kidnappings and lootings dating back to 2013. In 2021, Uganda 1,700 troops to DR Congo to assist with fighting the ADF. The group has been targeted in this joint operation since last November, after attacks on the Ugandan capital. In spite of this, attacks by the ADF have continued, with multiple casualties. The operation was set to end in May, but has since been extended by two months.
Last month, Former Ugandan presidential candidate and long-time opposition politician Kizza Besigye was arrested in Kampala while calling for protests on the government’s seemingly dull response to the country’s inflation problems. Charged with intent to cite violence, a magistrate at the Buganda Road court set his bail at Shs30 million, an egregiously huge amount that has now been reduced to Shs3 million.
The bail was reviewed by High Court judge Micheal Elubu after the initial bail was opposed for being too high. Besigye appealed the initial bail decision, with his lawyer citing malicious intent due to his client’s standing against the current Ugandan regime, led by perennial president Yoweri Museveni. Besigye acts as the leader of the political pressure group, People’s Front for Transition. The arrest was made as he was addressing a crowd in Kampala about the rising costs of living in Uganda, which have been defended by the government as being due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Besigye has run and lost four times for president against the current Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. The results of these elections have been contested, with suspected rigging. Besigye’s prolonged detention has been protested by many. Six female activists were arrested for demonstrating in support of Besigye, and are still yet to be released. They will have a bail hearing on the 7th of June.
"We've our reservations about Shs3m cash bail condition reviewed by the judge. If @kizzabesigye1 was to be convicted, he would be sentenced to 3yrs or a fine of Shs1.4m. Why should the bail be higher than the fine?" @EriasLukwago_
📹 @abubakerlubowa pic.twitter.com/UmMN2rDKhG
— Daily Monitor (@DailyMonitor) June 6, 2022