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Dec 9 2015

Where attacks have no name

Bodies of victims from a twin bomb blasts in the central city of Jos, which killed 44 people, are prepared for burial, July, 2015. (AFP/stringer)

Bodies of victims from a twin bomb blasts in the central city of Jos, which killed 44 people, are prepared for burial, July, 2015. (AFP/stringer)

(AFP/stringer)



When France held a memorial service for victims of the November Paris attacks, television channels in Nigeria broadcast it. The ceremony came a day before the first anniversary of a similar attack in the northern Nigerian city of Kano, writes Aminu Abubakar, AFP's correspondent based there.

In the Kano attack, at least 120 people were killed and hundreds more injured after gunmen opened fire on Muslim faithful who had just begun their Friday prayers at the city's mosque. Suicide bombers then blew themselves up among the fleeing crowds.

"But unlike in Paris, the names and photographs of the victims haven't been published in newspapers or broadcast around the world. The date of the attack hasn't been seared into the national consciousness. In fact, 12 months on, we're still not exactly sure how many lost their lives.

"On the eve of the anniversary, as television showed the French memorial, it was business as usual in Kano, apart from prayers for peace at mosques across the city. The president didn't visit, there were no cabinet ministers, military or first responders from the scene standing with their heads bowed as the national anthem played."


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Apr 27 2015

Nigeria’s vote, in my classroom

People wait to vote at a polling station in Abuja during presidential elections on March 28, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / NICHOLE SOBECKI) People wait to vote at a polling station in Abuja during presidential elections on March 28, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / NICHOLE SOBECKI)

(AFP Photo / Nichole Sobecki)


"When the AFP Foundation asked me to go to Abu Dhabi to train a group of Nigerian news editors in advanced business reporting, I had no idea I would be getting a first-hand glimpse of politics in Africa's most populous nation, in an air-conditioned Emirati facility nearly 6,000 kilometres from Lagos," writes AFP TV journalist Jurgen Hecker.

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Apr 13 2015

Boko Haram, through the eyes of children

Young Nigerian refugees draw on April 6, 2015 during a therapy program managed by UNICEF in the refugee camp near Baga Sola. (AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZES) Young Nigerian refugees draw on April 6, 2015 during a therapy program managed by UNICEF in the refugee camp near Baga Sola. (AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZES)

(AFP Photo / Philippe Desmazes)


"We are on the shores of Lake Chad in the Dar-es-Salam refugee camp, a dusty, crowded site sheltering some 5,000 people who fled over the border from northern Nigeria to escape the Boko Haram insurgency," writes AFP photographer Philippe Desmazes. "Among them are a great many children. Under a large white tent UNICEF has been holding art therapy workshops for young refugees. It’s a common technique used to help children in war zones overcome their trauma - and also a way to fill the endless days in the camp."

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Jan 30 2015

Killing in a media blackout

Nigerian refugee children carry wood in a United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) refugee camp in Baga Sola by Lake Chad (AFP PHOTO / SIA KAMBOU) Nigerian refugee children carry wood in a United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) refugee camp in Baga Sola by Lake Chad (AFP PHOTO / SIA KAMBOU)

(AFP Photo / Sia Kambou)


"This week my colleague Celia Lebur travelled to Chad's border with Nigeria to hear the tales of men and women who escaped what may be the worst atrocity in Boko Haram's six-year Islamist insurgency, the assault on Baga," writes AFP's bureau chief in Lagos, Phil Hazlewood. "The harrowing stories add to mounting eye-witness accounts that we've already been able to gather from Nigeria, pointing at killings on a mass scale in Baga. But the numbers - even now, a month later - are impossible to verify."

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Jan 23 2015

A traveler comes home

jacques-ivoire-2.jpg jacques-ivoire-2.jpg

(Photo: AFP /Georges Gobet)

"Writing a profile of Jacques Lhuillery is like walking down a winding road, with many forks. Starting from the man I knew and discovering, with each new friend I speak to, with each hilarious or moving anecdote, a new Jacques, another faraway land, another of his lives of which I knew nothing."

The head of AFP’s Japan bureau, who died of cancer aged 61, learned to speak Dutch while living in Saudi Arabia. He was the star of the annual Mardi Gras carnival in a small town in the south Netherlands, and he played petanque with an African head of state over drinks of ‘pastis’. Jacques was devastated by the murder in Ivory Coast of his friend and colleague Jean Helene, and was himself gravely injured in a fire at his home in Nigeria. But he never lost the rambunctious sense of humour, the actor’s talent and brazen nerve that seemed to open doors wherever he went.

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