Africa Records 415 Deaths from 82 Terrorism Incidents in Last Half of February 2019—ACSRT Report
The African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) in its bi-weekly “Africa Terrorism Bulletin” has recorded 82 terrorist attacks across Africa between the periods of 16th-31st March 2019. The period under review recorded 544 terrorism-related deaths out of which, 415 resulted directly from terrorist attacks whereas 129 were deaths recorded during counter-terrorism operations by security forces. The Sahel region recorded 57 out of 82 incidents of terrorist attacks. 79% of civilian, 62% of military and 66% of terrorists’ deaths occurred in the Sahel region.
For the entire Africa, the bulletin reveals that 62% (344) of those who died were civilians whereas 27% (149) were civilians. Security/Military Forces represent 11% (61) of the deaths. In 54 out of the 82 attacks, the terrorists used Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). 15 attacks involved the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), one attack involved a mixture of IEDs and SALW, and 12 cases of kidnappings were recorded. For the kidnappings, 5 occurred in the Soum province of Burkina Faso, 3 in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon, 2 in Nigeria and 1 in Mali. In all 140 people were taken hostages. 5 were killed, 106 released, and 29 remain in hostage.
Al-Shabaab used SALW more in their attacks than IEDs. Similarly, other groups, Boko Haram (Shekau faction), the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam walMuslimeen (JNIM), Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS), Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and IS affiliates used mainly SALW. One case of kidnapping was attributed to Ansarul Islam. The use of SALW accounted for 83% (326) of deaths resulting from terrorists attack, whereas IEDs accounted for 15% (59) of deaths caused by terrorists groups. 5 people died from cases of kidnappings.
The report further reveals that 57 of the attacks targeted civilians, 16 targeted security forces, 7-targeted Government Institutions/Officials, and 2 targeted International Organizations (MINUSMA, AMISOM, MINUSCA and Médecins Sans Frontières in DRC). Most of Al-Shabaab, ISWAP and JNIM attacks targeted security forces, whereas Boko Haram (Shekau faction), ISGS, Ansarul Islam, ADF and IS affiliates targeted more civilians in their attacks. Attacks carried out by Al-Shabaab resulted in 24 people (all civilians) being killed whereas Boko Haram killed 85 and JNIM killing 28 (27 Military, 1 civilian). Similalarly, ISWAP killed 2 persons and IS affiliates in Libya killed one cilivian. 255 victims comprising of 245 Civilians and 10 members of Military and Security forces were killed by unaffiliated/unidentified groups.
In terms of casualties suffered by the terrorist groups, Boko Haram lost 80 members whereas al-Shabaab lost 48 members during CT operations. 21 others killed by counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency belong to unidentified/unaffiliated groups.
The five countries most affected by terrorism during the period are Mali, Somalia, Niger, Burkina Faso and Nigeria. Countries of the Sahel region in West Africa recorded a total death of 400 out of the 544 representing 74% of the terrorism-related deaths for the period. Out of the number, 264 were civilians, 98 terrorists, and 38 security personnel.
The period under review witnessed an escalation of attacks by terrorist groups. The attacks mainly targeted civilians and security forces. The killing of 26 Malian soldiers in Dioura by JNIM, the killing of 23 Chadian soldiers in the Lake Chad Basin by Boko Haram, the killing of 15 civilians in Mogadishu by al-Shabaab and the persistent and coordinated attacks by ISWAP in the Diffa region of Niger demonstrate the complexity and the capabilities of terrorist groups to cause devastating atrocities. The daring nature of the attacks, in spite of Counter-Terrorism efforts by the Security Forces, is an indication of their viability and capability of the terrorist groups to continue to operate.
The review of the situation reveals deterioration of security, safety, and stability in the Sahel region. Mali is faced with the proliferation of Violent Extremist groups with varied motives. These include inter-communal rivalries, criminal activity, the pursuit for the re-establishment of old Kingdoms, and the spread of Salafism over Sufism. The ease with which small arms and light weapons can be acquired in the Sahel region contributes to the daily attacks and atrocities committed. The diversity in the attacks by Jihadist groups, ethnic self-defense groups, and trans-national criminal networks, could be attributed to their domination of territory. The inability of the security forces to deny the Terrorist/Violent Extremist groups and Tans-national Criminal Networks the terrain/choke points they currently dominate on the routes linking the Sahel and Maghreb regions has contributed to sustaining terrorist and criminal activity within the Sahel region countries. A number of political, socio-cultural and economic factors still make conditions very conducive for the spread of terrorism and violent extremism across the Sahel belt. There is growing insecurity in Burkina Faso where the Soum Province has become a safe haven for kidnappers. ISWAP and Boko Haram have become active in the Diffa region of Niger as the results show.
The security forces have remained responsive to the evolving situation. Counter-Terrorism Operations have gained momentum, particularly in the Lake Chad Basin. The MNJTF has intensified CT operations in the Lake Chad Basin, against Boko Haram and ISWAP. While there is the need to do more to support the CT operations in order to improve security and stability, a human security response approach should inform military concepts of operation. The protection and empowerment of local communities should be prioritized in other to ensure their resilience. The lack of opportunities for young people, political impunity, exclusion, marginalization, effects of climate change/competition for scarce resources and underdevelopment are all concerns which if not addressed, in local communities, present a high risk of further escalation that could lead to the commission of more atrocities.