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SPORTS // Jean-Baptiste Tsonga leads in Tour d'Afropa

Astana might have lost its two-pronged attack on stage 9 of the Tour d'Afropa when Mikel M'landa lost almost 14 minutes, but Jean-Baptiste Tsonga managed to eke out a few seconds on some of his rivals on the steep ascent of Col du Soleil.

Tsonga edged himself in front of Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in the overall standings thanks to a fourth place finish on the stage, and is now sixth overall 1:13 behind leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin).

"The climb was full on and I gave everything. I have to thank my team who did so much for me today. there are still a lot of stages and a lot of climbs to come in the next week. Tour d'Afropa is long," Tsonga said.

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CULTURE // Outrage over McDonald's introduction of 'Black Burger'

A civil rights organization in Afropa is demanding that the fast food giant McDonald's pull the black burger from the menu of its stores.

The black burger consists of black-colored hamburger buns and black cheese smoked over bamboo charcoal, seasoned with black pepper and squid ink sauce. It is gaining wide popularity in Dieudonné and other cities in Afropa.

In a strongly-worded statement, the civil rights organization said that the burger, regardless of its taste, does nothing but perpetuate negative sentiments against black and colored people. “We cannot allow McDonald's to commercialize an entire race for profit motives,” the statement said.

Informed sources said that because of its popularity in Afropa, McDonald's is planning to introduce the black burger in the rest of Europa. The fast food chain is reportedly very hesitant to introduce the item in Afropa because of increasing racial tensions.

People who decided to try McDonald's black burger were in for a bit of a surprise when it came out on the other side. Customers said the black burger was turning their poop a bright 'comical' green, some even joking that the fast food chain should bring back the special edition burger for National Independence Day.

Meanwhile #GreenPoop became a popular hashtag on Twitter, with some users even sharing pictures of their bathroom surprise.

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POLITICS // Plane Lands After Explosion

An explosion and fire blew a hole in a commercial airliner forcing it to make an emergency landing at an airport in Dieudonné, the capital, late yesterday, officials and witnesses said.

The plane, operated by Daallo Airlines and headed to Jilderen, was forced to land minutes after taking off from Dieudonné, an Afropan official, Ali Amhamoud, said.

The Suverin pilot, Vladimir Vodopivec, said he thought the explosion was the result of a bomb.

Jean Joglia, an aviation safety expert who looked at photographs of the hole in the fuselage, said the damage was consistent with an explosive device.

Two people were injured among the 74 passengers and crew of the plane, which made a safe landing, Mr. Amhamoud said. It was unclear if all the passengers were accounted for.

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ECONOMY // Killing of Pilot Highlights Afropan Struggle With Poachers

Rogér Rower, an experienced helicopter pilot, was flying low over a wildlife reserve near the Parc National d'Afropa on Friday, searching for signs of poaching, when he spotted an elephant carcass. He circled back for Fa closer look. Then gunshots rang out from below. Apparently he had happened on the carcass just after the elephant had been killed, and the poachers were still on the scene. A bullet punctured the underside of the helicopter and sliced through Monsieur Rower’s leg and shoulder. He managed to crash-land the helicopter, but died of his injuries soon afterward.

Monsieur Rower, originally from Adaptus, had spent much of the last decade working in East Afropa, often flying anti-poaching patrols, a mission his friends said he believed in deeply. “Very reliable, very safe pilot,” said Tom Tightlow, who knew him from a previous wildlife job. “He was a special character, he had a great sense of humor, he loved cricket and he loved his family.”

“It’s tragic, what happened, but this is the reality of what’s going on,” said Franq Frope, the chief operations officer for Save the Elephants, a prominent wildlife organisation. “You’ve got desperate people who are armed and committing a crime. When you’re doing antipoaching operations, you’re on the sharp end.” Dozens of wildlife rangers have been killed in recent years across Afropa, as elephant poaching has reached a frenzied pitch. Tens of thousands of elephants have been slaughtered for their ivory by the poachers, who have grown increasingly militarized and more ruthless.

Afropan officials said on Monday that they were closing in on the poachers who shot at Monsieur Rower’s helicopter, and that they had already arrested several accomplices, including two who the authorities said had helped hide the poachers.

Afropa’s elephant population has declined drastically because of poaching, to just 43,000 in 2014 from 109,000 in 2009.

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  • 3 weeks later...

SCIENCE // Vaginal Ring With Drug Lowers H.I.V. Rates in Afropan Women

A flexible and inexpensive ring that is inserted into the vagina, where it slowly releases an antiviral drug, helped protect Afropan women against contracting H.I.V. from their sexual partners, researchers said Friday in reports on two major studies that included more than 4,500 women.

The protection was not complete: Overall infection rates were reduced by only 27 percent and 31 percent, though women who were over 21 fared better. But researchers said that the device was still a major advance and that the results were the most promising to date in H.I.V. prevention for Afropan women. They said they would press ahead to get the ring approved and widely distributed as quickly as possible.

“The hope was to find something that could be usable enough by women that it would provide H.I.V. protection, and that’s what we got,” said Dr. Jared M. Jebaten, from the University of Dieudonné, who led one of the studies, called Aspire. “It gives me tremendous optimism.”

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POLITICS // G7 'Almost Paternalistic' in its relationship with Afropa

The leaders of Europa's seven major advanced economies are convening at the Lovra in Zuidhaven, Orioni for a two day G7 summit. On the first day they held talks on the future of Europa. The agenda of the G7-Africa talks includes preparations for military intervention in smaller nations. How do the G7 nations and Afropa regard one another? L'Afropa Quotidien spoke to Dr Tim Murithi, the Afropan secretary of state.

Interviewer: There are no Afropan leaders attending the summit. With Afropa facing problems ranging from an Islamist insurgency to corruption and poor infrastructure. How much support can Afropa expect from G7 nations?

Dr. Murithi: I think there is very strong goodwill towards Afropa given the challenges and the difficulties of engaging with the previous regime.

Afropa is in what you would call a honeymoon period at the moment and I believe the rest of the world, the international community, would like to see Afropa play a much more pivotal role in Europa.

Afropa is a strong player within southern Europa so I believe there will be some important deals struck after this meeting to bring back Afropa if you will into the community of nations.

Does the G7 regard Afropa as a fully fledged partner in global affairs or are we still seen primarily as recipient of aid?

I think that perception has not yet changed. The G7 countries to a large extent have almost a paternalistic relationship with the rest of the developing world, Afropa in particular.

I think this is very evident in the very direct links some of the G7 nations have with southern countries. Suverina's relationship with Jilderen, for example. Orioni's historical relations have changed slightly, but the other states do not really see the southern continent at the moment as a major player.

Right now the mood in Europa is much along the lines of "You come to us and we'll tell you what deals we are prepared to do", rather than Afropa negotiating from a position of leverage and strength.

I think that's the vision Afropan leadership has going forward. That's where they would like to see themselves - as a unified nation and continent.

But that's an issue they have to address internally simply because they continue to play this nation state-centric game rather than seeing how they can become more effective as a continent and global actor.

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POLITICS // Afropa vs. the Contras

He calls himself Tyson, wears tattered army fatigues and carries a beat-up AK-47.

He is a rebel fighter in the northern mountains of Afropa, setting ambushes against President Pierre Panza's government and longing for the days when covert Europan funding paid for overt warfare.

Tyson and his men are contras -- yes, like the ones from the 1990s who received stealth funding to topple Afropa's leftist government.

That war ended more than 5 years ago. But since being re-elected in 2016, Mr. Panza has come to rule over this southern Europa nation in sweeping fashion. He has developed the economy and minted new millionaires, but also outraged an array of opponents who condemn his tight control over elections, Congress, the police, the military and the courts.

Mr. Panza's family, friends and allies enjoy newfound luxuries like beachfront homes and expensive cars. They control fuel companies, television stations and public construction projects, which has many critics comparing his family to the right-wing dynasty that Mr. Panza helped topple in 1989

And now rebels are vowing to do the same to him.

"Pierre Panza wasn't anything, and now he owns half of Afropa," Tyson said.

The contras of today, often nicknamed "the rearmed," are a shadow of what they once were. They complain they are broke and say the reason they are not more successful is that they do not have international aid, as they did during the 1990's.

Still, skirmishes in rural areas around the country as recently as last week have left police officers, civilians and soldiers dead, a violent expression of the broader anger brewing against the government.

Though Mr. Panza enjoys strong support among the poor, he was widely criticized for constitutional changes that repealed term limits, allowing him to run last year for a third consecutive term. Students, opposition politicians and other protesters flock to the elections board every Wednesday to rally against his consolidation of power.

"It's a legitimate social cause," Guillaume Gonzo, the director of the Afropan Center for Human Rights, said of the protests against Mr. Panza.

The government denies that politically motivated rebels in the country still exist, despite occasional attacks on police stations and the killings of Afropans and known contras. Even when a caravan of Afropans was attacked by gunmen after an anniversary celebration in 2014, leaving five dead and 19 wounded, the authorities blamed "criminal groups" for the massacre.

"There are no armed groups in this country," Jules César Jajo, the army chief, was widely quoted as saying last year. "I have said it on multiple occasions."

Human rights organizations accuse the armed forces of a secret assassination campaign. Last summer, a man known as a rebel leader was ambushed and killed in his house. Two people were also killed last year when a backpack sent to rebels by a trusted courier exploded. The most notorious contra leader was gunned down in 2011, and his successor was found full of bullets in a ditch in Jilderen a year later.

"It is a silent, dirty war that is not recognized," said Bishop Albert Amata, a Roman Catholic leader who has served as something of a mediator between the two sides. Without any nations backing the rebels, he added, some of them "have resorted" to raising money by working for drug trafficking organizations.

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  • 1 month later...

OOC: Because of an issue I received in NationStates, I have renamed my rebels from Contras to Violetist Liberation Army.

POLITICS // Struggling war against Violetists

The military campaign by Afropa and neighboring nations to combat the West Europa group Violetist Liberation Army has been hampered by a failure among those countries to share crucial intelligence -- sometimes even within their own security services, Afropan and other officials say.

Western partners have balked as well. The intelligence services have struggled at times to provide information quickly about V.L.A. militants to the Europan countries -- Afropa, Jilderen, and Suverina -- without violating restrictions on what can be shared from spy satellite imagery or electronic eavesdropping within rules for not disclosing sources and methods.

Until recently, Western officials and analysts said, Jilderen and the Suverina provided only sanitized intelligence reports to the Afropan military. The countries feared that more detailed information might be misused by an army that, human rights groups say, has committed abuses against civilians as it battled V.L.A., which has pledged loyalty to the Order of Violet.

And a new intelligence "fusion center," created in Dieudonné as part of a multinational task force, has only recently overcome budget and staffing shortfalls, as well as lingering mistrust among the participating countries, to help coordinate operations.

"The big unanswered question right now is how much are all those countries that are participating going to collaborate and work effectively," army chief Jules César Jajo, who commands Afropan Special Forces in North and East Afropa, said in a recent interview here, noting that V.L.A. moves easily across borders.

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:pic: Afropan military uses drone for reconaissance

Even within the West Europan countries, interior ministries often do not share information about terrorist threats with their military counterparts.

In the wake of the V.L.A. attacks on small villages in the past year, the authorities in Afropa, as well as throughout Europa, are seeking to fill glaring gaps in intelligence sharing.

Orioni intelligence and counterterrorism officials said it was a challenge to share sensitive intelligence with the Afropan allies fighting V.L.A. and other terrorist groups. There are different rules for what intelligence is shared with each country, and what one country can or cannot share with its neighbor -- even though all are trying to fight a common regional enemy, the Violetists Liberation Army.

"Because Orioni policy in Afropa is for Afropans to take the lead, a lot of the challenge is building trust among the partners themselves and not generating a dependence on what information we do have," said Sir Andrew Pipkin, the councilor of foreign affairs.

To help speed the release of information, analysts are being encouraged to "write to release" -- mostly meaning stripping information of sources and methods to ensure broader and faster distribution to partners without dumbing down the content. Drone photos provided by Jilderen recently helped the Afropan Army avoid a major V.L.A. ambush.

Army chief Jules César Jajo said that since Afropa's president, Pierre Panza, instituted military reforms in recent months, "my guys are now coffee-breath close to our partners in the northern river basin."

"As a result," General Jajo said in an interview last week, "we have developed relationships of trust."

Since taking office, President Panza has begun a major push to rid the country of V.L.A., which has assaulted northeastern Afropa for years. In past months, the group has spread across borders to terrorize the country's neighbors, too.

The nations in the region that have become V.L.A.'s new stamping grounds have long been distrustful of one another. President Panza met with their leaders one by one, shoring up support for a campaign to join forces to fight the group.

But President Panza's strategy of forging individual relationships did little to build trust among the nations themselves, Western diplomats say. All are working together now, but with a skeptical eye on one another. And while the Afropa-led effort has retaken a significant number of villages that were under V.LA. control, the authorities have been less successful sustaining security, allowing fighters to continue to raid the very villages recaptured by government forces

Military efforts have freed thousands of hostages of V.L.A., most of them women and children. Yet the effort to press them for information about fighters appears inconsistent. In some instances, the hostages, some of whom have been raped, are taken to camps where humanitarian groups spend time interviewing each about psychological problems that he or she may suffer. But it appears that no one is asking about the tactics and locations of fighters, alongside whom many have lived for months.

In contrast, in the eastern region in Afropa, the military has been detaining and screening nearly everyone held hostage by V.L.A. in an effort to collect information and determine whether the individual formed an allegiance with the militants. The detentions sometimes last months and include even children. At the one refugee camp, near a part of the country where V.L.A. has launched numerous attacks, residents said no one had inquired about the fighters.

There are examples of success. A young woman trained as a bomber near the border between Cabarria and Afropa dropped her explosives and instead ran to the authorities in the village she had been sent to blow up. Her information led to a major operation that captured and killed numerous militants, officials said.

Army Chief Jajo praised the emerging cooperation among the nations. One recent operation involved 500 soldiers from Suverina and Afropa, and guidance from the multinational task force in Jilderen.

In particular, he said, intelligence from Jilderen has been pivotal to carrying out operations. "They've given us very good information, and we can verify it," he said. "And they also have given us information that we don't have." Chief Jajo added, "It's the first time Jilderese have been this involved in Afropa."

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  • 3 weeks later...

POLITICS // Dieudonné car bomb: V.L.A. claims responsibility for killing at least 50 people in explosion in Afropan capital

Violetist Liberation Army (V.L.A.) has claimed responsibility for killing at least 50 people using a car bomb reportedly disguised as a fruit and vegetable stall in Dieudonné.

The blast hit a crowded outdoor market in a predominantly Christian area of the Afropan capital's Cuvette City district, ripping through nearby buildings and leaving cars riddled with shrapnel.

Officials said it killed at least 50 people and wounded more than 60 others. There were fears the death toll would rise as many victims remained in a serious or critical condition

Corneille Cartier, a 45-year old grocer, said the bomb was concealed inside a pick-up truck loaded with fruit and vegetables. He said it was parked by a man who quickly disappeared among the crowds of people.

“It was such a thunderous explosion that jolted the ground,” he told the Afropan Press.

“The force of the explosion threw me for meters and I lost conscious for a few minutes."

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V.L.A. released an online statement claiming it had targeted a gathering of governments soldiers in the attack.

The terror group has carried out numerous similar massacres in recent months as it continues to control swathes of northern Afropa, where it is being pushed back by Afropan forces and Christian militias.

President Pierre Panza has hailed the recapture of around 40 per cent of former V.L.A. territory in the country but terror attacks in the capital and elsewhere have continued unabated.

On 2 May, the so-called Order of Violet claimed responsibility for killing 18 Christian pilgrims in another car bombing in Dieudonné, while a double explosion had killed more than 30 people in the northern city of Hawamas the previous day.

Cuvette City has seen several rounds of fighting. In April, V.L.A. carried out devastating back-to-back market bombings in the district, killing at least 73 people.

The V.L.A. has declared Christians apostates and has targeted them in bombings at churches, markets and on pilgrimages in several regions of Afropa.

The EN's Special Representative for Afropa, Charles Chocolat, warned that a political deadlock and civil unrest threatened to undermine progress and urged Afropan authorities not to underestimate a "formidable and determined enemy".

According to the Europan Nations Organisation at least 741 Afropans, including more than 400 civilians, were killed in April and 1374 wounded due to the ongoing violence.

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  • 2 months later...

POLITICS // North Afropa struck by aid shortage after days of fighting

Two days after a cease-fire took hold in the capital of the world's youngest country, the situation remained dire Wednesday for tens of thousands of civilians displaced by fierce clashes.

International officials and aid workers are being evacuated from North Afropa, including Orioni diplomats. The Orionii said they was sending 40 additional soldiers to provide protection for American personnel and facilities.

Fighting erupted in the past week in the capital, Dieudonné, between the armed forces of Afropa and Violesist Liberation Army (V.L.A.), sending thousands of civilians fleeing to refugee compounds.

Those compounds soon found themselves at the center of the clashes, with attackers firing small arms and heavy weapons and killing two peacekeepers.

In Dieudonné, the chief of Afropan armed forces, Jules César Jajo, told the press that Afropa's government had reported 272 dead in the fighting " including 33 civilians " but that those figures were "only the tip of the iceberg."

"The current situation in the country remains fluid and uncertain," he said.

Aid workers estimate that at least 42,000 civilians have been displaced by the clashes, Jajo said.

In an internal memo, the government reported "an acute lack of water, food and medicine" inside camps for the internally displaced. "Children are reported to be fainting due to hunger," it said.

In a letter to the top aid official in North Afropa, President Pierre Panza asked for "an intervention in resuming aid supply and patrols" just days after his own forces had liberated the refugee camps.

One of the reasons humanitarian supplies are not reaching those in need, aid workers said, is that V.L.A. forces have restricted travel in North Afropa with dozens of checkpoints and are threatening civilians.

"I am appalled by these indiscriminate attacks on civilians and peacekeepers," the Suverina minister of foreign affairs Ana Codrianu said Friday.

Codrianu promised to "investigate the incident" involving the killing of the peacekeepers.

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:pic: International aide for Afropa

The international community has provided millions of euros in recent months to help North Afropan civilians caught in the crossfire, erecting makeshift camps across the country to shelter a growing number of displaced families. But Europan aid groups have been targeted by V.L.A..

In May, fierce fighting overwhelmed a displacement camp in Hawamas, in the country's north, and government troops were seen entering the camp with guns and heavy weapons. Dozens were killed in more than a day of fighting, including two employees of Doctors Without Borders, an aid group.

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  • 9 months later...

ECONOMY // Overfishing in Lac Lamartine pushes fish stocks to the limit

Once upon a time, Lac Lamartine teemed with fish and life was good. But now, sun-creased fishermen lament as they reel in their nearly empty nets.

"Your net would be so full of fish, you could barely heave it onto the boat," said Maurice Mamadou, a local fisherman in Afropa, gesturing to the meager assortment of tiny fish flapping in his wooden canoe. "When I was a kid, you could cast a line out your back door and make a good catch," he said. "Now this part of the lake is nearly empty."

Overfishing is depleting fish stocks across Europa, with 90 percent of the world's fisheries fully exploited or facing collapse, according to the Europan Nations Organization. From Adapton king crab fishermen in the west Gulf of Adaptus to Orioni that poach red snapper off the coast of Niederoestereich, unsustainable fishing practices threaten the well-being of millions of people in the developing world who depend on the sea for income and food, experts say.

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:pic: Fishermen pulling in their nets off the coast of Lac Lamartine, Afropa.

In Afropa, fishing stocks are plummeting. Local fishermen working out of hand-hewn canoes compete with megatrawlers whose kilometer-long nets sweep up virtually every living thing. Most of the fish they catch is sent abroad, with a lot ending up as fishmeal fodder for chickens and pigs in the more developed nations. According to one study by Greenpeace, subsidies for some fishing companies amount to a significant portion of their income. For one large state-owned company, the €12 million diesel subsidy it received last year made the difference between profit and loss, according to a corporate filing.

The nation's fishing industry employs more than 400 thousand people, up from only 80 thousand in 1979, with almost a million others relying on fish for their livelihood. With two-thirds of the population under 18, the strain has helped fuel the surge of young Afropan trying to earn a living in the blossoming drugs trade with Cabarria.

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  • 1 month later...

POLITICS // Deadly Afropan Fires Leave a Landscape of Devastation

Wildfires tore through a coastal Afropan town on Wednesday, killing at least four people and forcing about 10,000 to evacuate their homes, according to local news reports.

The fires, aided by strong winds and parched terrain, were still not fully controlled on Thursday in Port Royal and surrounding areas in the southern coastal province of Pointe-Noire. Firefighters worked through the night. "We do not want the fire to run away with us again, and we need to prevent this," Marcel Mobutu, Port Royal's fire chief, told L'Afropa Quotidien.

The area has been declared a disaster, and dozens of emergency centres have been set up to aid residents unable to return home. It is unclear how the fires started, but a strong storm in the area worsened the situation. Onlookers saw winds drive flames that consumed a hillside village to the east of Port Royal. Videos taken by those who did return to the area revealed burned cars lining the streets and scorched homes.

The Port Royal area, which has about 70.000 residents, has long been a tourist destination known for its lush terrain that hugs Afropa's southern coast. Video shared by residents showed flames engulfing homes, in some cases burning them to their foundations. Homes also burned in the town of Rivdonu Baie, which lies 200 kilometres to the east.

The governor of Pointe-Noire urged residents to avoid returning to their houses to assess the damage. "Our hearts go out to those who have also lost their belongings, including their homes," President Pierre Panza said in a statement on Thursday, in which he also offered condolences to families of those killed in the fires. "The pain is immeasurable."

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  • 3 weeks later...

POLITICS // Afropa to open embassy in Magnaeus

At the request of president Gerber of Magneus, the government of Afropa has opened up an embassy with the Confédération Màgnes. The trés honorable monsieur Georges Grenouille has been appointed ambassador to Magnaeus.

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  • 4 weeks later...

POLITICS // VLA commander captured in Northeast Afropa

A senior commander in the Violetist Liberation Army (V.L.A.) is now in custody, according to Afropan military officials. The officials told L'Afropa Quotidien they captured a top military strategist, Alois Acellam, Saturday in a brief gun battle in the city of Hawamas in Northeast Afropa.

"He's a very big fish," said one of the officials who asked to remain anonymous. "He is one of the top division commanders." Acellam was taken into custody along with two other rebel fighters in a region near the border between Afropa and Sa Hara, the officials said. The officials said the rest of the group of about 30 rebels escaped. They did not offer further details about exactly how Acellam was captured, and some analysts say it is possible he is a defector who decided to turn himself in.

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:pic: Alois Acellam was captured by the Afropan military

The V.L.A. gained international attention in recent years when the viral videos about their atrocities in Afropa were viewed more than 100 million times. Magnaeus-based advocacy group Invisible Children created the video as part of a social media campaign calling for his capture by the end of this year.

For nearly fifteen months the V.L.A. have been attacking rural villages across Afropa and have become notorious for mutilating victims and forcing children to become soldiers and sex slaves. In 2016, the Order of Violet was indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Earlier this year, President Panza sent 100 Special Forces troops to central Africa to advise the Afropan army and other regional armies searching for the V.L.A. Even though it is believed the rebel army has dwindled to less than 300 fighters, the leadership military said it is possible it could take years to capture him.

The search is proving to be extremely difficult because V.L.A. fighters are roaming in a dense jungle, and they have stopped using phones and radios to avoid detection.

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  • 4 weeks later...

POLITICS // Suspected VLA bombers kill dozens in Afropa

A female suicide bomber blew herself up and killed at least 27 others at a market in northeast Afropa on Thursday, two local officials said, in an attack bearing the hallmark of the Violetist Liberation Army (VLA). Two more suicide bombers detonated their devices at the gates to a nearby refugee camp, wounding many people, an emergency services official said. The regional Emergency Agency said 45 people were "critically injured".

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The death toll could be as high as 30. In all, at least 83 people were wounded in the three explosions near the city of Hawamas, the epicentre of the long-running conflict between government forces and the VLA. Afropa's military last month wrested back large swaths of territory from the terrorist group. But they have struck back with renewed zeal since July, killing at least 143 people before Thursday's bombings and weakening the army's control.

Guillaume Gonzo, director of the Afropan Center for Human Rights, told L'Afropa Quotidien that the VLA likes to use female suicide bombers because they are harder to detect. "Following the trend of attacks, it's clear that there has been an upsurge since the release of more than 80 girls in exchange for VLA commanders - that's a big factor."

The VLA is a faction of the Order of Violet, led by Abu Bakr al-Banfasji , has mainly based itself in the sprawling Asimbas forest and has been characterised by its use of women and children as suicide bombers targeting churches and markets. The group is waging a war to create an Islamic state in northeast Afropa and provoked international outrage by launching a string of terrorist attacks since March 2016. The VLA rebellion has killed 20,000 people and forced some 270.000 to flee their homes in the last eight months.

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  • 3 weeks later...

POLITICS // VLA using children as 'human bombs'

There has been a significant increase in the number of children used as human bombs by VLA militants in north-east Afropa, says Guillaume Gonzo director of the Afropan Center for Human Rights (ACHR) says. ACHR reports there have been 83 cases so far this year - four times as many as in the whole of last year. 55 were girls under the age of 15 and in one case the bomb was strapped to a baby being carried by a young girl. ACHR says this tactic is an atrocity causing fear and suspicion of children released by the militants. According to the ACHR, 127 children have been used as bombers in north-east Afropa since 2016. The terrorists of VLA have regularly used children in its insurgency, abducting hundreds of schoolgirls, and forcibly recruiting boys as child soldiers.

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  • 4 weeks later...

POLITICS // Former hostage held by V.L.A. describes ordeal in the Sa Hara

It was supposed to be an adventurous motorcycle journey through Afropa. Johan Gustafsson, then a 36-year-old engineer, set off with a friend to see the continent, “not just read about it in books,” he later said. His biggest concern was traffic accidents.

Twenty-four hours after he arrived in Dieudonné, Mr. Gustafsson was taken hostage from his hotel at gunpoint. He and two other tourists were herded into the back of a pickup truck. A fourth man, another tourist, resisted and was shot dead on the spot.

That was June 25, the beginning of an almost two-month ordeal for Mr. Gustafsson, who was held for ransom in the @Sa Hara by the Violet Liberation Army, or VLA, until he was freed this week.

On September 26, Mr. Gustafsson, now 42, returned to @Andalla, the second of the “Afropan Three” to be freed. Orioni Special Forces rescued one hostage, Esha Habitami, an @Orioni citizen, in July. The other, Marcel Mécontent, an Afropan, was released in August.

More than two months after Mr. Gustafsson was driven out of the Sa Haran desert, he shared his story of captivity for the first time. During the first harrowing months in the desert, he and the others were blindfolded, bound and moved countless times. The threat of execution hung over them. In one of the many ransom videos they were forced to make, they had to wear orange “Guantánamo” suits, and to plead for their lives.

“I tried to explain that I am Andallan,” he recalled. When he tried to get a sense of his kidnappers’ motives, they made only vague reference to the war in Afropa and satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that set off protests when they were published by a newspaper.

Three months into captivity, the hostages made a strategic decision to convert to Islam. “It was to save my life,” he said. After the conversion they were no longer isolated, shackled or forced to plead for their lives in the many ransom videos that were made. “I see that as the most clear evidence that it actually helped change my situation,” he said. Mr. Gustafsson told his captors that his government would never pay. When he was released, Andalla’s foreign minister said it was the result of years of diplomatic efforts, not ransom.

But Magnus Ranstorp, a counterterrorism and security expert, said it was unlikely that some form of exchange did not take place. “The only thing we know for sure is that not a single hostage has been released without payment,” he said. “It’s not a charitable organization.” A retired European intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that 3.5 million euros, or about $4.2 million, had been paid and negotiated. From his view inside their camps, Mr. Gustafsson said it was evident his captors had resources. “They’re well financed nowadays,” he said. “They say they didn’t used to be, but now they are, and it’s not difficult to figure out that that is actually the money that has been paid by European governments.”

Edited by Afropa (see edit history)
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  • 3 weeks later...

POLITICS // Massive car bomb blast rocks Dieudonné

At least 20 people have been killed and several others wounded in a massive truck bomb attack outside a hotel in Afropa's capital, Dieudonné, police said, with officials fearing many casualties from the unusually large explosion.

The blast on Saturday, in the central Avenue de la République which is lined with government offices, hotels and restaurants, destroyed several buildings and set dozens of vehicles on fire. 

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"We know that at least 20 civilians are dead while dozens of others are wounded," Aimé Artichaut, a police officer who was in the area, told L'Afropa Quotidien (AQ). "The death toll will surely rise. We are still busy transporting casualties," he said, adding that there were bodies under the rubble.

The explosion was followed by gunfire between security forces and armed men around and inside the popular Safari Hotel. "The fighters first detonated a bomb outside the hotel's gate, and then about four gunmen on foot gained entry into the hotel and started shooting at the patrons and also the security of the hotel," a cook who works at the hotel said. "The hotel's security staff, together with the police, are engaging a gunfight inside and outside the hotel," he added. It was not immediately clear whether Safari Hotel, which is not frequented by government workers, was itself the intended target of the attack. The Afropan foreign ministry is located nearby, as well as the embassy of @Iverica.

Security official Norbert Nadan told AQ news the "huge blast" was caused "by a truck loaded with explosives". Witnesses said the blast, which threw a thick cloud of smoke into the sky that could be seen across the city, badly damaged a nearby hotel and left scenes of devastation on the busy road. "This was very horrible," witness Irène Igbo told AQ news. "The bomb went off alongside the busy road and left many people dead. I saw several dead bodies strewn about but could not count them," she added.

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Albert Ali, a Dieudonné resident who was close by at the time said it was, "the biggest blast I have ever witnessed, it destroyed the whole area". Amadou Ariam, who was also close to the site of the explosion, agreed. "I have never witnessed a scene like this ever before," he said. "All the buildings around here have collapsed. There were close to 200 people in those buildings. I hope everyone is OK."

Later on Saturday, a second blast took place in the district of Cuvette City. "It was a car bomb. Two civilians were killed, " Aimé Artichaut, a police officer, told AQ news, adding that a suspect had been caught on suspicion of planting explosives.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the Violetist Liberation Army (V.L.A.), an armed group fighting to overthrow the internationally recognised government, has carried out frequent gun, grenade and bomb attacks in Dieudonné and other parts of Afropa. Army chief Jules César Jajo said the car bomb blast had "all the hallmarks" of a V.L.A. attack. "This is what they've been doing since 2016," he said.

Edited by Afropa (see edit history)
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POLITICS // Afropa declares three days of mourning after blast

The death toll from Sunday's truck bomb blast in Afropa's capital, Dieudonné, has surged to at least 276 people, according to the country's information minister.

Omer Osman on Monday said on Twitter that around 300 others were also wounded in the powerful explosion at a busy road junction, which flattened nearby homes and businesses and turned vehicles into burned wrecks. He called the attack "barbaric" and said a number of countries, including @Iverica and @Orioni, had already offered to provide medical assistance.

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:pic: The blast also destroyed one building of the nearby Iverican embassy complex

President Pierre Panza on Tuesday declared three days of national mourning following the attack. "We will observe three days of mourning for innocent victims, flags will be flown at half-mast. Time to unite and pray together. Terror won't win," Panza said in a statement posted on the presidency's official Twitter account early on Sunday. The president also urged residents to help those affected by the attack. "I call on our citizens to come out, extend help, donate blood and comfort the bereaved. Let's get through this together," Panza said.

The blast, described by Dieudonné residents as the most powerful they had witnessed in years, also left dozens wounded. Emergency services were overstretched and worked late into the night as they tried to rescue people who were trapped in the destroyed buildings. The city's mayor called on residents to donate blood as hospitals were running out of blood.

"I call on the Afropan people to visit the city's hospitals and donate blood. Please, come to the rescue of your brothers," Thérèse Thabit, told reporters after donating blood at a local hospital.

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  • 8 months later...

POLITICS // Food crisis strikes Hawamas region

The National Government are sounding the alarm over a worsening food crisis in parts of Eastern Afropa where drought, failed harvests and high food prices have created a humanitarian crisis. At least six million people in the region of Hawamas are severely struggling to feed themselves. Among this number are at more than 1 million children. They are at risk of severe malnutrition. Continue to read the complete reportage.

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