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Weekly Spotlight: 3 March 2024

1.     High-Powered Weapons Seized Following Flanker Security Raid

During the early morning hours (local time) of 05 March, St James police recovered a cache of high-powered weapons and other illegal items during a targeted security operation conducted in the Flankers area of Montego Bay. Senior Superintendent Vernon Ellis confirmed that between 0530-0830hrs, police raided the Central Avenue home of a 20-year-old suspect named Peter Johnson, AKA “Jolo”, who was under investigation for several serious crimes in the St James Parish including murder. During the operation, authorities recovered an AK-47 assault rifle, a camouflaged suppressed submachine gun, and a suppressor. Senior Superintendent Ellis stated that the seizure demonstrates “part of our commitment to combatting violent crimes and dismantling criminal gangs in Jamaica.”


2.     Major Climate Resilience Project Launched in Sierra Leone

In collaboration with Save the Children and the Green Climate Fund, the Sierra Leonean government announced the allocation of USD $26.8 million for a new climate resilience project on 06 March 2024. The Sierra Leone Coastal Resilience Project aims to empower communities living in coastal areas to implement pre-emptive measures to protect their livelihoods against the long-term effects of climate change. Specifically, the five-year initiative aims to restore up to 1,500 hectares of mangrove ecosystems and manage climate education programmes in more than 70 schools, which are anticipated to impact 260,000 people directly and more than 1 million indirectly. Dr Abu Bakar Massquoi, Executive Chairman of Sierra Leone’s Environmental Protection Agency, hailed the project as “an opportunity to implement innovative solutions, harness nature-based approaches, and sustainable practices to strengthen out coastal defences.”


3.     Over 200 Schoolchildren Abducted in Kaduna State

At 0830hrs (local time) on 07 March, armed bandits abducted approximately 280 students from the village of Kuriga, Kaduna State. The militants initially surrounded a school via motorbike, before forcing its students and teachers into a nearby forest, where they are currently believed to be held for an unspecified ransom. The majority of victims are between the ages of 8 and 15. While unverified, several analysts believe the suspects to be linked to the Boko Haram Islamist group, who have conducted several terrorist attacks against schools in recent years. In response, President Bola Tinubu confirmed that he had “directed security and intelligence agencies to immediately rescue the victims and ensure that justice is served against the perpetrators of these abominable acts.”


4.     India Announces Plans to Construct New Naval Base on Lakshadweep Archipelago

India’s Ministry of Defence has announced plans to develop a new naval base in the Lakshadweep archipelago, located off the country’s south-western coast, as part of New Delhi’s strategy to improve regional maritime security. Specifically, authorities confirmed on 06 March that the Indian Navy would develop the INS Jatayu facility on Minicoy Island, the southernmost island in the Lakshadweep archipelago, to “enhance operational reach and facilitate the Indian Navy’s operational effort towards anti-piracy and anti-narcotics operations in the Western Arabian Sea.” This facility will be India’s second in the Lakshadweep archipelago, which already hosts INS Dweeprakshak in Kavaratti.


5.     Fiji Accepts Second Guardian Patrol Boat from Australia

On 08 March, Australian naval personnel delivered a second Guardian-class patrol boat to Fiji under Canberra’s Pacific Maritime Security Programme (PMSP). The PMSP is a 30-year framework agreement costing approximately USD $1.3 billion to enhance the maritime fleets, aerial surveillance capabilities, and regional coordination of Pacific Island nations. Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka received the RFNS Puamau during a formal handover ceremony hosted at HMAS Stirling, Western Australia. During the ceremony, Australian International Development Minister Pat Controy stated that “Australia is proud to be Fiji’s security partner of choice,” adding that “the delivery of the second Guardian-class patrol boat today is a tangible demonstration of our Vuvale Partnership…by enhancing Fiji’s maritime security capabilities, we are more effective in tackling our shared regional challenges together.”


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