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African press review 27 April 2012

Text by: William Niba
4 min

Friday’s African press is dominated by the deadly bombing attacks by Nigerian Islamist insurgents at newspaper offices.

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Suicide bombers kill eight in attacks on media house headlines The Nation. “Nigerian press comes under attack”, The Guardian, Black Thursday for the Media, according to The Nigerian Tribune. Amid reports that up to nine people died in the blasts and another 19 are in a serious condition in hospital, the papers join the chorus of condemnation coming from federal and state government officials, political, civil society and religious leaders from both the north and south of the country.

Dossier: Sharia wars - Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

The National Mirror reports that one of the assailants, a native of Maiduguri in Borno State who drove the car that exploded outside a press building in Kaduna killing two security guards, was “subdued by brave members of the public” as he fled from the scene of the bombing.

Premium Times runs an exclusive interview of a Boko Haram spokesman Abdul Qaqa, an operative on the police’s wanted list. He told the newspaper that they attacked ThisDay’s offices in Abuja and Kaduna, to “send a strong message to the media that it will no longer condone reports misrepresenting it in the press”.

The Sun, whose offices were also attacked in Kaduna, quotes Qaqa warning the media in Nigeria to expect more attacks. He reiterated that the press would “cease being their problem when they do their job professionally without taking sides”.

Daily Times holds in today’s editorial that Nigeria is now a nation under siege. The paper points out the group's first targets were policemen, then Christians and then southerners and now journalists. According to the newspaper, maybe it is time for the government to change strategies, shift to intelligence gathering rather than the “knee-jerk military reactions”.

There are motivated reactions in the South African press about the spate of attacks against the press in Nigeria. Mail and Guardian explains that ThisDay is "based” in southern Nigeria and is “broadly supportive” of President Goodluck Jonathan's government, the main target for extremist insurgent group.

M and G also takes up threats by Nigeria’s militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Mend, which has threatened to attack South African investments including telecoms firm, MTN, in the Niger Delta because of the terror trial of its leader Henry Oka in Johannesburg. Okah is accused of orchestrating from his Jo’burg residence, twin car bombings - which killed 12 people in Abuja in 2010.

There is surprisingly little interest by the South African papers in Charles Taylor’s guilty verdict passed by the UN War Crimes Tribunal for Sierra Leone at The Hague.
The country’s papers have other axes to grind. The Star reports that South Africa is still a nation of rapists 18 years on.

The statistics put out by South Africa’s Medical Research Foundation and published by the Johannesburg paper are hair-raising. Seven children under the age of 14 are being raped in Soweto every day, nearly 30 children every month and more than 100 over four months before the country cast its first democratic vote in April 1994.

Today, according to the study, about 30 per cent of teenagers say their first sexual encounter is based on rape. The Medical Research Foundation also found out that a child is raped every three minutes in the township.

The MRF also documented through interviews with men in Gauteng two years ago, that nearly 40 per cent had raped a woman and that nearly seven per cent who took part in the survey said they had participated in a gang rape.

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