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Swedish navy returns to vast underground HQ amid Russia fears

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Swedish navy returns to vast underground HQ amid Russia fears

Sweden’s navy HQ is returning to a vast underground cold war fortress designed to withstand a nuclear attack, in what has been seen as a defensive move against a resurgent Russia.

After a 25-year absence, the navy will once again be commanded from beneath billions of tonnes of granite as the country strives to build up its defences in response to the perceived threat from Moscow.

The top secret naval base on Muskö, about 25 miles (40km) from Stockholm, resembles a cross between Tracy Island from Thunderbirds and the film set of You Only Live Twice, where James Bond grappled with arch villain Ernst Blofeld in his headquarters beneath a volcano.

Completed in 1969, it boasts cavernous underground docks that can shelter warships, with miles of tunnels, offices and a hospital.

On its return to Muskö on Monday, the Swedish naval command said the new location would offer greater freedom of manoeuvre.

“The move is based on the calculation that the Russians could use powerful weapons which demand the level of protection that only Muskö can provide,” said Niklas Granholm, a senior analyst at the Swedish Defence Research Agency.

Sweden’s army and airforce commands are also moving out of the capital and into more fortified locations, spreading their headquarters geographically to make them less vulnerable to attack. But the navy’s relocation is the most dramatic, and emblematic of a revival of cold war sentiment in the country.

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“The Muskö base is unique from a fortification perspective, it is an underground area as big as the old town in Stockholm,” said Rebecca Landberg, head of communications for the Swedish navy.

“The naval command must have resilience and function even under attack, so Muskö is the best option … the armed forces need to adapt their operations to meet the challenges posed by the deteriorating external environment.”

Like most European nations, Sweden cut its military spending sharply after the cold war ended, from about 2.5% of GDP in 1990 to barely 1% by 2010; equipment was scrapped and bases were closed down. The shipyard on Muskö was sold off to German engineering company Thyssen Krupp.

But the occupation and annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 “changed things completely”, Granholm said. “It showed that this is what Russia does to its smaller neighbours. Now it is proving a difficult and long-term task to rebuild the armed forces.”

Swedish defence company Saab bought out Thyssen Krupp in June 2014, after some arm-twisting that involved mass recruitment of Krupp’s staff and a dawn raid by the defence ministry on Krupp’s shipyards in Malmö, ostensibly to rescue military secrets.

A few months later, Stockholm was gripped with panic after an alleged Russian mini-submarine was spotted in its waters, reviving memories of a Soviet nuclear sub that ran aground in Karlskrona in 1981, sparking a decade of high-profile submarine scares.

The submarine hunt of 2014, details of which still remain unresolved, saw opinion polls swing towards Nato membership for Sweden and presaged the first of several boosts to defence spending. For the first time in more than two decades, the Swedish government embarked on a sustained expansion of the defence budget, pledging to increase spending from 43bn Swedish crowns (£3.5bn) in 2016 to 50bn in 2020.

Other recent moves to strengthen Sweden’s military preparedness include bringing back conscription, and a leaflet delivered to every household explaining what to do in case of a nuclear attack.

Though Muskö ceased to play a central role in Swedish defence in the 1990s, the navy never left the island entirely. When British and Belgian enthusiasts tried to infiltrate the base late last year, they were met with warning shots before being arrested.

But the facilities have fallen into disuse, and it will take several years for the base to be comprehensively modernised and renovated. According to the military officers’ trade union, the underground command centre will not be fully equipped until 2021 or 2022.

 

 

Guardian UK

 

Maritime

Yaya Dillo: Implication of Assassination for Chad and its ruling elite!

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Days after the killing of Chad opposition politician Yaya Dillo, in disputed circumstances, many analysts in the conflict-racked Central African nation have expressed concerns about how his allies, powerful relatives, and rivals will react.

The Chadian government has said that Dillo was killed in an exchange of gunfire with security forces on Feb. 28. It said members of his Socialist Party Without Borders had earlier attacked the internal security agency where several people were killed.

Following this, heavy gunfire was heard in Chad’s capital N’Djamena near the headquarters of Dillo’s Socialist Party Without Borders.

The violence comes amid tensions ahead of a presidential election set for May and June that could return the Central African state to constitutional rule three years after military authorities seized power.

*Yaya Dillo

Accounts of the incident given by the government and the party have differed.

A government statement said the agency was attacked by representatives of the opposition party, led by its leader Yaya Dillo, resulting in several deaths.

Detailing a separate incident, the government said a member of the party, Ahmed Torabi, had carried out an assassination attempt against the president of the Supreme Court, Samir Adam Annour. Torabi was arrested, it said.

The opposition party’s general secretary told reporters that the deaths near the security agency occurred when soldiers opened fire at a group of party members.

But the FACT opposition rebel group and the CNRD opposition party have called it an assassination and analysts say the circumstances are unclear.

The capital N’Djamena was quiet two days after the death, though residents said security forces were deployed in key locations and soldiers searched for weapons at checkpoints overnight. Access to the internet has been cut.

The May and June votes were meant to draw a line under three years of military rule by transitional President Mahamat Idriss Deby, who seized power after his long-ruling father was killed in clashes with rebels in April 2021.

Deby junior, who is standing in the vote, has since faced street protests against delays in the elections and has had to bring some members of the opposition into his government, under moves to ease tensions brokered by regional leaders.

The United Nations and regional leaders have called for calm and urged Chadians to focus on the vote.

The violence this week has further exposed the complex ethnic and family ties that make up Chadian elite politics.

Deby senior had concentrated military and political power around his Zaghawa ethnic group.

His son has struggled to maintain that unity, and divisions have emerged, with some family members openly opposing him.

Dillo, the opposition leader who was killed, is from the same clan – believed to be a cousin or nephew of Deby junior – and his death has triggered anger within the family.

Exacerbating these concerns, the transitional president’s uncle, Gen. Saleh Deby Itno, last week defected to Dillo’s party and was reportedly subsequently detained.

Roland Marchal, a Chad expert at the Centre for International Studies (CERI) at Sciences Po Paris, said the fact that Saleh joined Dillo’s party was a signal that some in the extended family were extremely unhappy.

“The killing of Dillo is a sign of weakness. Dillo is not very popular in Chad so why take such extreme measures against him?” Marchal said.

Security sources say Deby Junior has sought to stamp his authority on the security forces, including by creating new units loyal to him.

As Islamist militancy spread across much of West Africa during the last decade, Chad has established itself as a key partner for Western and regional militaries.

Former colonial power France still has 1,000 troops and warplanes based there, even as it has been forced to withdraw from Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso due to rising anti-French sentiment in the region.

The United States has had drones based in Chad. N’Djamena also hosts the headquarters of the regional counter-terrorism task force.

Positioned between Libya and Sudan, Chad’s remote borderlands are often used by smugglers and armed groups operating in regional conflicts.

Most recently, United Nations experts said that Chad has been used as a route to supply crucial weapons from the United Arab Emirates to the RSF, the militia that has been fighting the Sudanese army since April 2023.

However, the UAE has denied this. Chad hosts nearly 700,000 Sudanese refugees from this conflict.

With the elections in Chad just around the corner and the killing of Dillo coming at this time, analysts say the African continent may be on the verge of witnessing the unveiling of yet another theatre of unrest. 

  • NANFeatures
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Rice Wahala: How Smugglers Nearly Killed Me, Customs Officer Tells Court

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An Assistant Superintendent of Customs, Mr Amos Ekundayo told a Federal High Court in Ibadan how a gang of rice smugglers attempted to kill him after shooting him in the head.

Ekundayo was led in evidence by Mr Michael Osug, the prosecution in the case filed against two suspected rice smugglers; Waliu Ayodeji and Lateef Odugbemi before Justice E.K. Akpan on Friday.

Ayodeji and Odugbemi were apprehended on May 22 2023 in the Igbo Ora area of Oyo State.

They had pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, unlawful importation of foreign rice, and conspiracy.

“I was one of the customs officers on patrol on May 22, 2023, when we were informed that a gang of smugglers were operating on the Ologbojo-Tapa road which is under the Igbo-ora area.

“On getting there with the other members of the team, I attempted to address the members of the gang.

”However, they told me that the only person who can address them was Sunday Igboho.

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“Before I knew what was happening, they shot me in the head and my back.,” Ekunday said.

He showed the court the three different spots where he was allegedly shot.

The witness also stated that he was taken to the Lago State University Teaching Hospital for medical attention.

He added that he spent eight days in the hospital before being discharged.

“During our investigation, we found out that the two defendants and others, now at large had smuggled 144 bags of per boiled rice from Cotonou, Benin Republic,” the customs officer said.

In his testimony, Mr Ganiu Salami, an informant to the Nigeria Customs Service said that he knew the two defendants as smugglers and that he informed the customs operatives about the May 22 2023 event.

“After the customs operatives accosted the gang of smugglers, the second defendant, Odugbemi pointed his gun and shot at Ekunday.

He tendered the medical report issued by the hospital in respect of the shooting before the court as an exhibit.

However, counsel to the first and second defendants, Mr. A.A. Okelola and Mr Adewale Ishola prayed the court not to admit the medical report tendered by Salami on the ground that it was not a certified true copy.

In their separate arguments, Okelola and Ishola said that the medical report was a mere coloured photocopy document.

In a counter-argument, the prosecution counsel, Osug said that the document that was tendered was original.

Finally, the court admitted the document as an exhibit against the defendants.

The judge adjourned the matter until March 23 for continuation of trial. 

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UNIPORT: NIMASA Intensifies Capacity Development, Delivers Marine and Transport Technology Building

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The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has handed over, two ultra-modern complexes housing the Institute of Marine and Transport Technology to the Management of the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

According to Jamoh, the building which is a donation from NIMASA to the University, was the initiative of the previous leadership of the Agency, but on assumption, as the Director General he saw the need to review and commence the project.

*The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, OFR (3rd right) presenting the keys of the Ultra-Modern Complex housing the Institute of Marine and Transport Technology donated by NIMASA, to the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Clifford Ofurum, while others look on in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.



He said, “The initiative dates back to 2012/2013 when the then DG of the Agency decided to build a maritime training institute. The initiative is not peculiar to Uniport but is present in all the six geopolitical zones of the country. Any investment in education is worthwhile.

The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, OFR and others during the presentation of the keys the Ultra-Modern Complex housing the Institute of Marine and Transport Technology, donated by NIMASA to the University of Port Harcourt in Rivers State.

” Research has shown that lack of education is relatively responsible for maritime crimes in the Niger Delta Region. We hope beneficiaries of this Maritime institute will be instrumental in making Nigeria a major maritime nation”, he said.



The Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Abraham Georgewill, who was represented by the VC Administration, Prof. Clifford Ofurum thanked NIMASA for selecting Uniport as the location for the Maritime Institute, assuring that the University will provide adequate faculty to ensure courses are accredited and recognized globally.

*The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, OFR (3rd right), Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Clifford Ofurum (4th left) and others during the presentation of the keys the Ultra-Modern Complex housing the Institute of Marine and Transport Technology, donated by NIMASA to the University of Port Harcourt in Rivers State.

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