The African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) in its bi-weekly “Africa Terrorism Bulletin” has recorded 70 terrorist attacks across Africa between the periods of 16th-30th April 2019.
The period under review recorded 276 terrorism related deaths out of which, 264 resulted directly from terrorist attacks whereas 12 were deaths recorded during counter-terrorism operations by security forces. The Sahel region recorded 54 out of 70 incidents of terrorist attacks. 77.2% of civilian, 63.8% of military and 85.7% of terrorists’ deaths occurred in the Sahel region.
For entire Africa, the bulletin reveals that 53% (146) of those who died were civilians whereas 26% (71) were terrorists. Security/Military Forces represent 21% (59) of the deaths. In 50 out of the 70 attacks, the terrorists used Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). 16 attacks involved the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), three attacks involved a mixture of IEDs and SALW, and 2 cases of kidnappings were recorded. In all, 15 people were taken hostage. 11 people were abducted in an attack at a Lokoto village in Central African Republic. In Arbinda-Gorgadji, Soum Province, Burkina Faso, JNIM militants seized two fuel tankers and kidnapped the Drivers and their assistants. Two (2) out of three (3) Burkinabe Red Cross workers kidnapped previously were released unhurt.
Whilst Boko Haram (Shekau faction), Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS), Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP) used more SALW in all their attacks, al-Shabaab and Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) used more IEDs. JNIM used mainly SALW. One case of kidnapping was attributed to JNIM. The use of SALW accounted for 77% (158) of deaths resulting from terrorists attack, whereas IEDs accounted for 22% (44) of deaths caused by terrorist groups. The attacks in which both SAWL and IEDs were used, 1% (2) of people died.
The report further reveals that Civilians were targeted in most of the attacks. 38 of the attacks targeted civilians, 25 targeted security forces, four (4) targeted Government Institutions/Officials) and three (3) targeted International Organizations (MINUSMA and AMISOM). Whilst most al-Shabaab, Boko Haram (Shekau faction) and JNIM attacks were against civilians, the attacks by ISWAP, AQIM, ISGS and ISCAP were mainly against security forces. Al-Shabaab killed 20 persons (4 civilians, 16 security); Boko Haram killed 76 (75 civilians, 1 Security); JNIM killed 27 (17 civilians, 10 Security); ISWAP killed 5 security; ISGS killed 2 (1 civilian, 1 Security); AQIM killed one (1) Security and ISCAP killed 3 (1 civilian, 2 security). 70 victims comprising of 50 Civilians and 15 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 grou Boko Haram suffered the biggest loss, 39 fighters were killed by security forces. JNIM lost 16 fighters, Al-Shabaab lost five, IS affiliates in Somalia lost three and AQIM lost one (1) militant. Eight (8) militants from unidentified/unaffiliated groups also died.
The five countries most affected by terrorism during the period are Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Somalia. Countries of the Sahel region in West Africa recorded a total death of 212 out of the 276 representing 77.1% of the terrorism related deaths for the period. Out of the number, 112 were civilians, 63 terrorists, and 37 security personnel.
The continent recorded a decrease in the number of deaths resulting from both terrorist attacks and deliberate Counter-Terrorism activity during the period. There was however, a slight increase in the number of attacks by terrorist groups in all regions except Southern and North Africa. The Sahel Region, Lake Chad Basin and the Horn of Africa remained the most affected regions. Generally, the terrorist threat during the period has been from Militant Jihadist groups whose operations indicate an intent to dominate and control territory in order to impose their ideological will on the local communities. Cases of inter - ethnic conflict and banditry were also the causes of a number of deaths although these have not been recorded as terrorism related deaths. The control of both territory and established trade mobility corridors gives the terrorist groups the advantage of facilitating the running of criminal economies that serve as a source of funding for the support of their operations. The declaration of the DRC as the Central African Province of the Islamic State under the name of Madina at Tauheed wau Mujahedeen (City of Monotheism and Holy Warriors) is a major issue of concern that should engage the priority attention of policymakers and partners.
During the period, Military measures continued to degrade the capacity of the terrorist groups. The terrorist groups however, continued to enjoy considerable freedom of movement to operate. In order to impede the movement of both Security forces and the local population, the terrorist groups have continued to resort to the planting of IEDs on major routes. Generally, the response of the Security Forces did not indicate any appreciative increase in momentum that could result in the breakdown of the will and cohesion of the various terrorist groups to continue their attacks. In the Sahel region in particular, the terrorist groups appeared to hold the combat initiative. Increasing troop levels, logistics, technical intelligence and target acquisition support for deployed security forces appears to require urgent attention. In this regard the delay in the effective field deployment of the G5 Sahel Force could be said to be a major shortcoming that should draw urgent attention. In the particular case of the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin, enhancing the intelligence capability of the deployed troops and improving the operational cooperation of all the Sahel, Maghreb and Lake Chad Basin countries could defeat the insurgency.
The confidence of the local communities in Government and the Security Forces to protect them from attacks by militant Jihadist groups was a major issue of concern in many local communities within the areas of terrorist groups operation particularly Burkina Faso. Weak local government structures and inadequate resources in remote communities to address the issues of protection and empowerment, lack of basic amenities and opportunity as well as inter-ethnic violence remain a primary shortcoming that the terrorist groups continued to capitalize upon. The African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development was adopted by the 23rd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly on 27th June 2014, as a tool for the promotion of Human Security and the Prevention of Violent Extremism in Africa. Currently, thirteen (13) Member States have signed the Charter while only three out of the 15 Member States required to bring the Charter into force, have ratified it. It is considered that advocacy and International assistance to speed up the ratification, domestication and implementation of the Charter in the Lake Chad Basin, Sahel Region and Horn of Africa would go a long way to address the current governance deficit in local communities which tends to undermine confidence of local populations in Government and Security forces.