According to sources, officials and security services from the football tournament’s ten host cities will take part in the counter-terrorism exercise, which is due to take place on 16 March in the southern city of Nimes.
Fan zones are thought to be areas that are at most risk as thousands of supporters from France and the twenty-three other competing nations congregate in confined spaces.
Last year, France endured several terror attacks, including the November coordinated attacks in Paris, which resulted in the deaths of 130 people. One of the targets was the Stade de France, which is the venue for the 10 July final game. On 13 November, three suicide bombers detonated their devices outside the stadium as France played Germany, killing themselves and one other person. At least one of the bombers reportedly tried to enter the stadium but was turned away.
Police officials reported late Wednesday that gunmen riding on motorcycles have kidnapped a German national in northeastern Nigeria.
Adamawa police spokesman confirmed the incident, which occurred during the early morning hours in the town of Gombi, stating, “security agents are working assiduously to track down the kidnappers and free the hostage.” A German foreign ministry spokesman has indicated that he “was aware of the case” however the official declined to comment further. The identity of the German citizen has not been released.
Residents in Gombi, located 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Yola, the capital of Adamawa state, have identified the hostage as an instructor at a government-run technical training center, disclosing that he was attacked by about twenty gunmen outside his home in the Anguwa Faransa neighborhood, the French quarters of the city, as he left for work. One local resident reported “the kidnappers were riding on 10 motorcycles, two on each, and laid ambush around the house of the German expatriate.” The German expatriate works at the Technical Training Center (TTC), which has been set up by the regional government in Adamawa to combat the massive youth unemployment in the region. Local sources have reported that there are a number of German expatriates working at the Center.
No immediate claim of responsibility has been confirmed, however initial blame has fallen on Boko haram. While the militant group is opposed to schools teaching a so-called Western curriculum, and has in the past launched attacks targeting students and teachers, Ansaru, an offshoot of Boko Haram, has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of at least eight foreigners in northern Nigeria since 2012. While the group has been largely dormant for more than a year, this latest kidnapping may signify that the group is ready to target foreigners in the region in a bid to fund the on going insurgency. The 2013 abduction, and subsequent release of a French family of seven, including four children, across Nigeria’s northeastern border in Cameroon is believed to have netted Boko Haram a ransom payment of several million dollars.
Just weeks after Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force, Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant, issued a warning about the ongoing threat from piracy, there have been two more piracy-related incidents that have occurred off the coat of Somalia. The first incident occurred on 5 November, when EU Naval Force German frigate, FGS Niedersachsen prevented ten suspected pirates from getting far out to sea. During a piracy patrol, the FGS Niedersachsen located two small vessels, a whaler towing a skiff, close to the Somali coast. The warship’s crew members were able to observe that the whaler was carrying ten pirates along with over ten fuel barrels and two long ladders. When the German frigate approached the whaler in order to carry out a further investigation, crew members observed the men dropping ladders into the sea before heading back towards the shoreline. While the whaler made its approach towards the beach, approximately eighty people were seen on land, with some wading out in order to assist the pirates in bring the boats back onto the beach. The German frigate continues to monitor the beach, which quickly became deserted after the incident. The second incident occurred on 6 November when a merchant ship, located 460 miles south-east of Mogadishu, had to repel an attack from five armed pirates. A Hong Kong-flagged chemical tanker, enroute from Saudi Arabia to Mozambique, was fired upon by five pirates in a fast-moving skiff. The private armed security team on board the vessel was able to repel the attack. Naval forces immediately closed the sea area in an attempt to locate the suspects. In light of these two incidents, Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant has stated that “it is clear that Somali pirates still have the intent and capability to get out to sea to attack ships and take crews for ransom. These attacks not only cause misery to ships‘ crews and their families, they also generate instability in world trade and humanitarian aid routes. Naval counter piracy forces and the maritime shipping industry must remain vigilant so that these pirates do not succeed.”
- None reported during this period.
- 9 November 2013 – A merchant vessel was attacked in position 07:20S – 048:37E, approximately 278 nautical miles north of Madagascar at 1400 UTC. Merchant vessels are advised to proceed with caution when traversing the area.
- 6 November 2013 – Hong Kong-flagged product tanker, Zhongji No. 1, reported being attacked at 0330 UTC in position 05:31S – 047:07E, approximately 400 nautical miles north of Madagascar. One skiff had five pirates on board, with ladders signed. Suspected pirates were also heavily armed. The alarm on board the tanker was raised, crew members alerted, fire pumps started, speed increased, evasive maneuvers made, SSAS alert activated and authorities informed. The pirates fired at the tanker and the armed security team on board returned fire. The skiff later aborted the attack and moved away. The vessel and crew members are reported safe.
- 2 November 2013 (Late Report) – India-flagged oil tanker, Desh Mahima, reported being approached by three suspicious skiffs travelling at a high speed at 1614 UTC in position 14:34N – 042:10E, heading 330 deg 12 knots. Six pirates on board each skiff were sighted along with ladders. The Master of the vessel order increase of speed, activated the SSAS, mustered the crew members into the citadel, used evasive maneuvers and anti-piracy measures, including the firing of flares. The resulted in the skiffs moving away from the vessel.
- 27 October 2013 (Late Report) – Bulk carrier was approached by two skiffs at 1120 UTC in position 13:15N – 043:01E, Gulf of Aden. Skiffs were colored white and blue, with five to six pirates on board each skiff. The skiffs closed to 100m. Ladders, described as 10m long with hooks on one end, were sighted on board the skiffs. Armed security team on board the vessel displayed their weapons, resulting in the skiffs moving away. Vessel and crew members have been reported safe.
- 8 November 2013 – Bahamas-flagged oil tanker reported two suspicious skiffs approached port side at fast speeds at 1115 UTC while in position 17:52.37N – 056:56.45E, approximately 30 nautical miles off the coast of Oman. Armed security team on board the vessel stood to, showing their presence in front of the bridge as the vessel implemented security measures. Skiffs continued to approach the tanker to around 200 meters. A total of seven pirates were seen on board the skiffs, which closed to 100 meters. However no weapons were observed onboard the skiffs. Armed security team displayed their weapons, resulting in the skiffs moving towards the starboard side. The skiffs later moved towards the stern and were monitored until out of range at 1145 UTC.
GULF OF GUINEA
- None reported during this period.
- None reported during this period.
- 7 November 2013 – Ten pirates armed with guns and knives boarded and hijacked a Panama-flagged oil tanker, GPT 21, underway at 0330 LT in position 01:20.6N – 103:18.2E, around 7.3 nautical miles west of Pulau Kukup, Malaysia. The pirates tied up all the crew members and held them hostage in one cabin. They later ordered the Master to steer the ship to a pre-designated position. Another unknown orange-hulled tanker came alongside and the pirates forced the C/O to use the cargo pumps, valves and mooring winches to transfer the oil into the unknown tanker. At around 1600 LT, the pirates disembarked after transferring and stealing all the gas oil on board the GPT 21. Prior to leaving, the pirates also stole the crew members personal belongings.
- 4 November 2013 – Duty crew on board an anchored chemical tanker spotted two boats nearby at 1230 LT in position 03:54N – 098:46E, Belawan Anchorage, Indonesia. Robbers attempted to board the tanker via anchor chain but alerted crew thwarted the boarding. A second boat, which was hidden near the propeller, could not be chased away by crew members who were using the fire hoses. The propeller was turned on, resulting in the robbers moving away. The robbers were spotted with some stolen hull anodes in their boat. Port Control was informed of the incident.
- 2 November 2013 (Late Report) – Fifteen armed robbers boarded an anchored Indian-flagged container ship, Jindal Tara, at 0330 LT in position 21:40N – 088:01E, Sagar Anchorage, India. D/O noticed the robbers stealing the ship’s stores and raised the alarm. Seeing the alerted crew, the robbers jumped overboard and escaped.
- 23 October 2013 (Late Report) – While at anchor, robbers boarded a Denmark-flagged chemical tanker, Torm Fox, at 0025 LT in position 07:06S – 112:40 E, Gresik Inner anchorage, Surabaya, Indonesia. The roving patrol shouted at the robbers upon seeing them. The forward horn was sounded and the crew members were informed about the robbers. The robbers immediately escaped in a small boat. An inspection was conducted in order to check for stowaways and damages.
- 22 October 2013 (Late Report) – While at anchor, robbers boarded a Thailand-flagged LPG tanker, Senna 3, at 1545 LT in position 22:49.80N – 070:06.30E, Kandla Port anchorage, India. Robbers boarded the vessel from the starboard bow. Upon discovering the robbers, the emergency alarm was raised and the crew members attempted to expel the robbers. The robbers threatened the crew with a knife before escaping. Cash and the ship’s spare parts were stolen.
- 21 October 2013 (Late Report) – While at anchor, robbers boarded a Singapore-flagged tun, Svitzer Kallang, at 0300 LT in position 01:22.73N – 104:42.24E, approximately 11.7 nautical miles northeast of Tanjung Berakit, Pulau Bintan, Indonesia. Robbers were discovered by the Master in the mess room. The robbers threatened him with an iron lance, later escaping with a laptop, portable welding machine, fire axe, generator spare parts and filters. Following the incident, the Master raised the general alarm and the crew members conducted security patrols. SPOCC initiated a broadcast to alert mariners. The Police Coast Guard and Singapore Navy were informed of the incident.
- 17 October 2013 (Late Report) – While underway, robbers from two small crafts boarded a Panama-flagged tug, Miclyn Opal, at 1320 UTC in position 01:13.79N – 104:04.62E, approximately 1.45 nautical miles North of Pulau Nongsa (Batam), Indonesia. Robbers boarded astern of the barge that was being towed and stole the emergency towing wire. The Singapore Navy was informed of the incident.
- 12 October 2013 (Late Report) – While underway, robbers boarded a Saint Barthelemy (France)-flagged barge carrier, Westsea 95, at 0235 LT in position 01:14N – 103:59E, Eastbound lane of Singapore Strait (TSS) while being towed by a tugboat on route to Lampung, Indonesia. All crew members were mustered to the accommodation deck. Master instructed the crew to lock the watertight door and entrance of the tug boat from inside. The roving patrol shouted at the robbers. After being noticed by the crew in the tugboat, the robbers escaped onboard a small boat and took with them a stern railing, emergency tow line and a Norwegian buoy.
Al-Qaeda’s north African branch has released a video depicting seven kidnapped Westerners. The video was received by Mauritanian news agency ANI, which indicates that all the captives seemed to be in good health. France’s Foreign Ministry has announced that the hostage video seems to be “credible.”
The newly released video depicts seven hostages, including four Frenchmen and a Dutchman, who were kidnapped from a uranium compound in northern Niger exactly three years ago; along with a Swede and a South African who were abducted from a hostel in Timbuktu in northern Mali November 2011 in an attack that left a German man dead. In the video, which was released to Mauritanian news agency ANI, Frenchman Daniel Larribe, 61, introduces himself as the head of the French group, stating that he was kidnapped by militants belonging to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). According to ANI, Mr. Larribe states that he is “…in good health but threatened with death,” adding that he holds the French authorities responsible for his fate. The video also includes statements from the other French hostages, including Pierre Legrand, Theirry Dol and Marc Feret as well as South African Stephen Malcolm, Dutchman Sjaak Rijke and Swede Johna Gustafsson. It also shows the French hostages reportedly urging the French administration, as well as their family members, to work for their release. At the time of their kidnapping, the four Frenchmen were mostly working for French public nuclear giant Areva and its subcontractor Satom. They were kidnapped in Arlit, northern Niger, on 16 September 2010. At the time, Daniel’s wife, Francoise Larribe, was also captured however she was released in 2011.
Although it remains unclear when the video was made, officials from ANI have indicated that the messages recorded by the French hostages were made in June of this year. Furthermore, this is the first video that is said to depict the men since France launched an intervention in Mali in January after al-Qaeda-linked militants threatened to overrun the capital Bamako.
According French Foreign Ministry spokesman, Philippe Lalliot, “based on an initial analysis, the video seems credible to us and provides new proof of life of the four French hostages kidnaped in Arlit (northern Niger) on September 16, 2010,” adding that the footage was being authenticated.
AQIM is currently believed to be holding eight European hostages, including five French nationals. According to French prosecutors, one of the French hostages, Philippe Verdon, who was kidnapped in Mali in 2011 and found dead earlier this year, was executed with a shot to the head. Officials in France believe that his killing was in retaliation to France’s intervention in Mali. A fifth hostage, Serge Lazarevic, was kidnapped along with Mr. Verdon from their hotel in Hombori on the night of 24 November 2011. Shortly after their kidnapping, the families of the two men insisted that they were not mercenaries or secret service agents. These comments were in response to threats made by AQIM militants stating that the two hostages would be killed as they were French spies.
While the newly released video depicts the pleas of the French hostages for their release, it is highly unlikely that the French government will get involved, and that their plight will be publicly discussed. Although in July of this year French President Francois Hollande announced that France was “doing everything” to bring the hostages back, he indicated that officials would “…not talk so as not to complicate a situation which is bad enough.”