1. Boko Haram have abducted hundred people in Nigeria’s north-easterly Borno state.
Sources have reported that Boko Haram insurgents have overrun Kukawa, a town in the country’s North-eastern state of Borno and kidnapped over one hundred people. Allegedly, the terrorists entered the town in around twenty trucks at 4PM on Tuesday and engaged in a half hour long fire fight with the security forces stationed there, eventually driving them back. After this they left, taking the hostages. An army spokesman has promised that the military will respond shortly.
2. Mozambique security forces surround Mocimboa da Praia in ongoing battle with insurgents.
Government troops are embedding themselves in key strategic positions surrounding the linchpin port in the North of the country, after it was seized by IS affiliated militants last week. The Army, forced to flee the city last week after running out of ammunition, is now in an ongoing engagement with the insurgents and say that they have killed around sixty enemy combatants. Alongside Tanzania, South Africa is now reported to be considering intervention, but has been warned by IS that it will be the target of terrorist action if it does so.
3. India will invest $500m in Maldives infrastructure project to curb Chinese influence.
Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar this week announced that his government would invest $500m in a project to connect Male, the capital of the Maldives, to three connected islets. Maldives foreign minister Abdulla Shahid noted that once completed this would represent “the single largest infrastructure project in the Maldives". President Solih called the deal a “landmark moment in Maldives-India cooperation” in the same week that his pro-China predecessor has been convicted of money-laundering in connection with Chinese infrastructure deals. The infrastructure project stands to cement India as the Maldives' foremost regional and international partner, and demonstrate India's growing presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
4. South China Sea clash ignites tensions in the waters off the coast of Malaysia.
An incident broke out after the Malaysian coastguard inspected two Vietnamese fishing boats suspected to have been engaging in illegal fishing. One of the Vietnamese boats rammed the coastguard vessel and crew members from both ships threw improvised “diesel bombs” at the Malaysian ship. A Vietnamese fisherman was shot dead by the Malaysian coastguard during the incident.
This outbreak of violence has sparked wider discussions concerning ongoing illegal fishing by Vietnam and China in the waters east of the Kelantan region, which is recognised as Malaysian territory. It is worried that this event will disrupt relations amongst the ASEAN countries, throwing a spanner in the works of their ongoing efforts to pushback against contested Chinese activity in the Pacific.
5. Waterbombing aircraft have been deployed to douse first Australian wildfire of the season.
A large fire burned out of control in New South Wales on Thursday and waterbombing aircraft were called out to assist ground forces in putting out the blaze. As of Thursday, the fire had burnt 363 hectares of land. Whilst such fires are somewhat commonplace in Australia, this is abnormal, because there is still two weeks left of winter in the Southern Hemisphere and fires do not normally take place early. Moreover, in the early months of this year Australia saw wildfires on an unprecedented scale, leaving little respite between bushfire seasons. According to the NSW Rural Fire Service this signals a strong likelihood of another catastrophic series of fires and a difficult time ahead for the area.