Boko Haram carries out multiple blasts in Nigeria; Abdi Farah Shirdon appointed as Somalia’s Prime Minister; Kenyan courts can try international pirates; France supports plan for African force in Mali;
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  • According to reports, Boko Haram carried out multiple bomb explosions in Nigeria’s northern city of Maiduguri by using rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices and targeted locations used by the Joint Military Taskforce (JTF) in the city. Army spokesman Lt Col Sagir Musa said that 24 militants were killed but denied reports that civilians or soldiers had died. He added that four Boko Haram militants were also arrested in connection with these blasts. However, witnesses mentioned that a primary school and a radio tower were set ablaze in the attack.1

    In another development, reports noted that members of Somalia's parliament unanimously approved the appointment of Abdi Farah Shirdon, an ex-businessman nominated by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, as the new Prime Minister. Shirdon, who studied economics at Somalia National University in the 1970s, said that he would form an effective government to deal with current situation. Earlier in April 2012, he co-founded the Rajo Council (Hope Council) in Nairobi, which aimed to bring Somalis together to reclaim the country.2

    According to reports, Kenya's Court of Appeal ruled that the country's courts have jurisdiction to try pirates caught in international waters since piracy off the coast of Somalia affected the economies of many nations including Kenya. The ruling follows a 2010 Kenyan High Court judgement which said that courts could only deal with offences carried out within the country's territory.3

    Reports noted that amid escalating tensions over the threat posed by militants in Mali to regional and western security, France supported the plan for an African force comprising more than 6,000 troops from African nations to overthrow Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda in northern Mali. To confront the growth of jihadist movement in Mali, French President François Hollande’s government is also engaged with West African states that could begin operations inside Mali under international banner by promising intelligence and logistical support.4

    Reports noted that according to Abdisamad Gallan, Governor of Bari region in Puntland State, a large consignment of arms destined for suspected Islamist militants in north-eastern Somalia was seized in Qandala, a coastal town in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland. He elaborated that the boat carrying these weapons said to have come from Yemen and delivered sealed sacks full of land mines and artillery. It was further mentioned that this is one of the biggest seizures of al-Shabab weapons.5

    According to reports, amid criticism that the president failed to control labour unrest spreading through much of South Africa, President Jacob Zuma announced plans to spend nearly $100 billion in infrastructure to create jobs that would address issues like rising inequality, persistent poverty and low wages. Speaking at a conference on infrastructure, he said that the money would be spent on roads, bridges and ports in next three years, as part of a $475 billion plan to upgrade the country’s infrastructure over the next decade and a half. He also tried to ease tensions that led to strikes in which 75,000 workers went out of job.6

    Reports noted that South Sudan's minister of Roads and Bridges, Gier Chuang Aluong, announced the plan to connect South Sudan and the neighbouring Kenya with a highway in order to boost economic activities between the two nations. The highway would connect Juba and Nadipal at the two countries' common border, helping commodities to be transported from the Kenyan port of Mombasa into South Sudan in big volumes and short period. Aluong said the plan would be supported jointly with the World Bank and the Kenyan government, saying a meeting was already held by the three bodies to implement the project.7

    Reports emanating from Kismayu, the regional capital city of lower Shabelle region, in southern Somalia noted that police detained about sixty suspected Al-shabab members. The operations were conducted in the city to prevent possible attacks by the ousted Islamist militias. The arrested members, mostly young men, were believed to have affiliation to Al-shabab and were jailed in the central police station for further investigations.8

    In other developments, according to reports, Seyyed Reza Nourani, the chairman of Iran’s Union of Exporters and Importers of Agricultural Products, said that Iran and Egypt agreed to resume their commercial ties for the first time after the two countries severed their relations three decades ago. In this regard, an Egyptian business delegation visited Iran and held a meeting with Iranian officials and businessmen at the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade. The two sides discussed various business issues and agreed to start their commercial interactions with the trade of fruits and citrus.9

    Separately, according to reports, at least 22 people were killed and 200 injured in fighting in Libya's town of Bani Walid between pro-government militia and gunmen in former leader Muammar Gaddafi's bastion.10