1. Nigeria enhances naval presence in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Nigerian Navy has moved several security assets into the Gulf of Guinea, including six warships, two smaller boats, and a number of helicopters in light of a deteriorating regional security situation. The Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo noted that this was in response to “huge resources and vast potential being continuously undermined by multifaceted domestic and cross border threats” in the region. At the same time, Nigeria is mounting naval exercises with the other navies that operate in the Gulf of Guinea in order to “enhance the collective capabilities of the Gulf of Guinea and West African nations to counter sea-based illicit activities”. These activities include piracy, illegal fishing, illegal exploration of mineral resources and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
2. Mozambique insurgents overrun strategically placed town hosting foreign workers.
Militants belonging to Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa have attacked and seized the coastal town of Palma in the Cabo Delgado region of Mozambique. Residents are believed to have fled to nearby forests as groups of militants raided banks, hotels, and police checkpoints. It is reported that government security forces initially resisted the onslaught but were eventually forced to flee and have since mounted a counterattack. Several foreign workers, largely in the oil and gas sector, are believed to be trapped in hotels and planes are unable to land at the local airstrip after coming under heavy weapons fire. The number of casualties and the extent of the damage is thus far unknown, as communications in the area have been cut off. This is the latest in a series of escalations by the IS affiliated militant group terrorising Northern Mozambique.
3. Blast kills four people and injures 13 others in Baluchistan, Pakistan.
An explosion in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, Pakistan, killed four people and injured thirteen others on Tuesday the 23rd of March. Security forces noted that the bomb was hidden inside a motorcycle in Chaman, a remote town near the country’s border with Afghanistan. Whilst no one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, officials believe it is likely the work of the Baluchistan Liberation Army, a secessionist group who frequently mount attacks on civilians and security forces in the region. It has thus far proved difficult to apprehend these extremists as they slip over the porous Afghan border, beyond the jurisdiction of Pakistani authorities.
4. Malaysia denounces North Korea’s decision to cut diplomatic ties.
Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denounced North Korea’s decision to cut diplomatic ties, calling the action “unfriendly and unconstructive”. North Korea took this decision in light of Malaysia’s move to extradite a North Korean national to the United States to face money-laundering charges. In response to the rogue state’s hostile cessation of diplomatic ties, Malaysia has closed its embassy in Pyongyang and evacuated all diplomatic staff, fearing for their safety.
5. Australia declares natural disaster as tens of thousands evacuated in the wake of floods.
Australia has declared a state of natural disaster after large swathes of New South Wales have been flooded in the wake of torrential rains, which have swept away roads, buildings and livestock. As many as 40,000 people have already been evacuated or been ordered to evacuate their homes as floods are set to continue. Vital connective infrastructure like bridges and telecommunications hubs have been damaged. Emergency services have already rescued thousands of stranded people and are ready to see demand for their services increase. Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted that the extent of the damage could not yet be assessed and that the “the rain and flood situation does remain dynamic and extremely complex”.