Al least 42 officers killed in attack on Kenyan police in Samburu; African Union endorses ECOWAS plan to deploy troops into Mali; Somali Parliament approves smaller cabinet for new prime minister; EU approves 5 billion euros financial support package for
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  • According to reports, in the most deadly attack on police in Kenya's history, at least 42 officers were killed when cattle rustlers ambushed and attacked Kenyan police, who attempted to recover stolen cattle, with sophisticated weapons such as anti-personnel bombs and rocket-propelled grenades in Baragoi in the northern Samburu County. Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said that three of the attackers were killed, while nine injured officers were admitted in hospital. In response, Internal Security Minister Katoo ole Metito vowed to bring those responsible to justice.1 Later, the National Security Council, chaired by President Mwai Kibaki, ordered the deployment of the Kenyan Military to flush out bandits who killed police officers and stole their arms. Following the order, Baragoi residents began to flee the area as they feared being caught up in revenge attacks after the arrival of the troops in the region. 2

    In another development, reports noted that the African Union (AU) endorsed the decision of West Africa's regional bloc ECOWAS to send 3,300 troops into Mali to clear the north of Islamist extremists. The ECOWAS plan covers a six-month period, with a preparatory phase for training and the establishment of bases in Mali's south, followed by combat operations in the north. The soldiers would be provided mainly by Nigeria, Niger and Burkina Faso and other African countries could provide troops and logistical support. The AU's Peace and Security Commissioner, Ramtane Lamamra, said that the plan would be placed before the UN Security Council for approval before the end of 2012. On the other hand, the UN warned that the Islamist militias were imposing a harsh version of Islamic law on the areas they control and that forced marriage, forced prostitution, and rape were becoming widespread. 3

    In a sign that Somalia’s government was willing to move away from its troubled past, the parliament approved a smaller, 10-member Cabinet in a vote that serves as an important victory for the new prime minister. Parliamentary speaker Mohmed Sheik Osman Jawari said that 219 parliamentarians endorsed the Cabinet in a vote while three voted against the move and three abstained. The Cabinet, formed by Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon, is expected to be sworn soon. Separately, the UN representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, hailed the naming of two women ministers: the minister of foreign affairs, who also serves as deputy prime minister, and the minister of development and social services. Further, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton opined that the limited size of the Cabinet would help the government implement key priorities. 4

    Reports noted that following the talks between Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi and the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, in Cairo, the European Union approved a 5billion euro (US$ 6.4billion) financial support package for Egypt. It was announced that the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) would each provide 2 billion euros and the remaining 1billion euros would come from EU member states. Representatives of some 100 of Europe's largest firms as well as European Commission members and European MPs participated in the meeting and focused on strengthening bilateral relationships between Egypt and the European Union and deepening economic co-operation. 5

    According to reports, ending more than eight-week strike that crippled the world’s largest platinum producer, miners at Anglo American Platinum Ltd. operations in South Africa returned to work in Rustenburg, about 100 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg. At the same time, farm workers, angered over their minimum daily wages, launched a second day of violent protests in the nation’s Western Cape, setting fires and marching through the countryside. At least one man was killed in the violence and five others injured. Most of the striking farm workers come from the vineyards of South Africa, the world’s eighth largest overall producer of wine. They were asking for an increase in the minimum day wage to 150 rand (US$13), up from about 70 rand (US$ 8). 6

    In other developments, according to reports, Nigerian military killed Ibn Saleh Ibrahim, a top commander of militant Islamist group Boko Haram, along with six of his lieutenants, in an exchange of fire in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri. A number of civilians were said to have also been killed in the crossfire. Army spokesman Lt. Col. Sagir Musa said that Ibrahim was "very close" to Abubakar Shekau, the current head of Boko Haram, and had a reputation of being "invincible". Musa added that Ibrahim was responsible for the assassination of retired General Mohammed Shuwa following an order from Shekau. 7

    In other developments, according to reports, President of Somalia's northern region of Puntland said that its security forces arrested two suspected members of the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militant group in Galkayo. They were identified as Abu Hafsa, al Shabaab's head of assassinations and Abdirizak Hussein Tahlil, al Shabaab logistics officer. It was added that Puntland forces also seized suicide jackets, hand grenades, explosive powder, as well as wires, fuses and remote controls during the raid. However, al Shabaab spokesman for military operations, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, denied the arrests and said that this was a false propaganda to get funds from Westerners. 8