Soldiers from Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso conducted their first joint operation against jihadists insurgency near their shared border, neutralising eight suspected militants and arresting 14 others, Ivorian army said on May 24.
Burkina Faso and its neighbours Mali and Niger in West Africa’s vast Sahel zone are conducting operaions against Islamist insurgencies with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State, claiming to re-consturct the historic Caliphe of Sokoto.
Those terrorist groups have been strengthening and expanding their range of operations, leaving coastal countries like Cote d’Ivoire at risk of violence and unrest breaking into their territories.
The joint operation was launched on May 11 with about 1,000 Ivorian soldiers participating from their side of the 580-kilometre border with Burkina Faso, Ivorian army announced in a statement.
The suspected militants were killed in Burkina Faso, the army confirmed, adding that the operation is ongoing.
Jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have escalated dramatically over the past year despite significant military support from France, which is engaged in partnerships with former colonies.
While Cote d’Ivoire has mostly been spared the violence affecting its neighbours, it was the victim in 2016 of an attack claimed by al Qaeda in which gunmen killed 19 people at a beach resort.
Somalia Mudug region governor was killed with three of his bodyguards in a suicide car bombing on May 17. The explostion was claimed by Islamist group al Shabaab, police said.
“A suicide car bomb hit the governor’s car. Governor Ahmed Muse Nur and three of his bodyguards died,” police captain Mohamed Osman told Reuters.
Al Shabaab has been fighting for years to topple Somalia’s western-backed central government and frequently carries out bombings in Somalia and elsewhere in the region. The group wants to establish its own rule in the Horn of Africa country, based on its own strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.
“We are behind the explosion. It was a suicide car bomb. We killed Mudug region governor and his three bodyguards,” al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab told media.
The same day the armed group posted a statement on a pro-Shabab website that said: “The governor of the apostate administration in the Mudug region was killed in a martyrdom operation in Galkayo today.”
Galkayo lies about 600km (375 miles) north of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda affiliate, pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011 and lost most of its strongholds, but still controls vast swathes of the countryside.
Dozens Malian soldiers have been killed in an attack on an army base in the country’s northeast in the town of Tarkint, north of Gao, according to the armed forces. French media indicated number of casualties has risen to 30 servicemen slain, and five wounded.
There was now immediate claim of responsibility for this attack, the deadliest against for the Malian army this year.
Mali’s army has repeatedly suffered heavy casualties from armed Islamists groups active in the area affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS), intending to establish the Caliphate in West Africa.
France hopes the United States will not diminish support for French military operations in West Africa, where jihadist groups affiliated with Islamic State and Al-Qaeda are increasing their activities.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made the appeal as Defence Minister Florence Parly was due to meet U.S. counterparts on January 27 to discuss the crisis in the Sahel.
Last year the Pentagon announced plans to withdraw hundreds of military personnel from Africa as it redirects resources to address challenges from China and Russia after two decades focused on counter-terrorism operations. Those changes are following an ongoing global troop review spearheaded by Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
The possibility has alarmed France, which relies on U.S. intelligence and logistics for its 4,500-strong troops in the Sahel.
“I hope they will be rational to keep this partnership … and that good sense will prevail,” le Drian told reporters.
The U.S. currently has 6,000 military personnel in Africa. Although some experts say a re-positioning of forces is overdue, many U.S. politicians and experts share French concerns about jihad spreading in Sahel region.
The Islamic State affiliated group has claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on Burkinabé military leaving 24 dead. FRANCE 24 TV Channel expert Wassim Nasr says the claim is credible and that the attack shows how IS group has expanded its reach in northern Burkina Faso. (Image: illustration).
The August 20 attack on a military post in the north-eastern village of Koutougou killed 24 soldiers. By claiming responsibility for this attack, IS group has demonstrated its capacity to strike in areas where al Qaeda tends to be active.
Burkina Faso’s military said 24 soldiers were killed and seven others injured on August 19 in a “major attack by armed terrorist groups” in the Koutougou department of Soum province in the northern Sahel bordering Mali.
Five soldiers killed in an ambush, the Malian army representatives said. According to the statement the soldiers were travelling between the towns of Hombori and Boni, about 100 km north of the Burkina Faso border, when they fell into an ambush. Their vehicle was also destroyed. Reinforcements have been immediately dispatched. (Image above: Hombori sunset).
It came days after gunmen killed 24 soldiers in an attack on an army unit in neighboring Burkina Faso.
Terrorist attacks targeting local security forces in the Sahel region have increased lately.
Since 2012, Islamists linked to al Qaeda have taken control of northern Mali, exploiting the downfall of Libyan state, and following Tuareg separatist uprising. The fragility of the Sahel region, is cause for international concern.
Despite French intervention and the deployment of joint forces from five Sahel countries, terrorist groups still control a large part of this region and are increasingly influential in Burkina Faso and Niger.
A suicide bomber drove a car loaded with explosives into the Asasey hotel in the port of Kismayo, Somalia, followed by the gunmen, who stormed popular among travelers location. Radical Islam militants of al-Shabab have claimed the attack, the most devastating act of jihad in Kismayo since fighters were forced out in 2012. (Image above: illustration).
Famous TV presenter Hodan Naleyah (43), and her husband Farid were among the victims. A local politician, three Kenyans, three Tanzanians, two Americans and one Briton among the killed, the authorities confirmed.
Al-Shabab, affiliated to al Qaeda terrorist group, often uses car bombs to infiltrate heavily fortified targets like the hotel in Kismayo, which has enjoyed relative calm since 2012.