At least 264 people were killed in Africa from 70 terrorist attacks in the last two weeks of April alone, the African Center for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) said in its bi-weekly “Africa Terrorism Bulletin” on Tuesday.
Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Somalia were the most affected countries, the report said.
Between April 16 and April 30, there were 276 terrorism related deaths, 264 of them directly from terrorist attacks and 12 from counter-terrorism operations by security forces.
Countries in the Sahel region in West Africa recorded 212 out of the 276 deaths, or 77.1 percent of the terrorism related deaths.
At least 112 of those killed were civilians while 63 were suspected terrorists, and 37 were security forces.
At least 54 of the 70 terror incidents occurred in the Sahel region.
“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,” ACSRT said.
At least 15 people were taken hostage in two major kidnapping incidents.
“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,” the study found.
While 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 terrorists groups. The attacks in which both SAWL and IEDs were used, 1% (2) of people died.
The report said 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,” the report said.
Boko Haram lost 80 members while al-Shabaab lost 48 members during counterinsurgency 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 report said.
It said 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 terrorism 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,” the report said, adding that 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 policy makers and partners,” the report added.