Mali – The French military has started the withdrawal of some of its military personnel from the fighting in the country. A United Nations force will take over in the coming weeks in order to assist Malian soldiers. It remains to be seen if security can be maintained once the French force has fully left the country. Insurgents have of late attempted to retake areas in the rear of the fighting, but as of the present, have been unsuccessful. There is still strong resistance in the areas of Gao and Timbuktu, which has some support for the insurgents. Currently, the militant group known as the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) is the most active group on the ground. France may have to retain some of its fighting force in order to bring a more stable Malian government.
Nigeria – Nigerian troops claimed that they had killed fourteen members of Boko Harem on March 31 in the northern city of Kano. Security had been increased in Christian areas over the Easter period and the military said that the group had been planning an attack over this period. On April 6 it was reported that an unknown number of gunmen killed eleven people in the northeast of the country at a village called Midlu in the Madagali Local Government area. In the past, police stations and prisons have been attacked, resulting in numerous fatalities. The state of Adamawa, in the north of Nigeria, is one of the most violent areas in the country.
The militant organization called the “Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta” (MEND) claimed responsibility for an attack that left twelve police officers dead in the Niger Delta. The group had been inactive since a 2009 amnesty deal it had agreed to with the Nigerian government, but now appears to have resumed its activities after its leader, Henry Okah, was jailed in South Africa for his reported role in orchestrating bomb attacks in the Nigerian capital Abuja in 2010. Members of MEND have been paid money by the Nigerian government since the signing of the amnesty.
Nigerian police believe that the latest round of violence is a result of a problem with payment for MEND members. But why target the police? It maybe possible that some form of extortion racket is in place which led to the attack, or it is possible that the militant group has decided to take up arms again. In the past, MEND’s grievance was about not receiving some of the oil revenue that is extracted from the Niger Delta region. If MEND has decided to take up arms again, this will have a dire result on Nigeria’s oil industry, and the group may resort to kidnapping as a means of extortion, as it had done in the past.
Somalia – The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has sent out a warning regarding terrorist attacks in and around the Somalia capital of Mogidishu. Attacks are likely to be carried out by the militant organization al-Shabaab. The attacks are likely to focus on the capital, and in the past, the group has targeted government institutions, hotels, restaurants, public transport, and the international airport. There was no time length on this warning and will probably be in place for some time to come.
On April 14, al-Shabaab carried out attacks in Mogadishu. The militants, dressed as police, stormed a courtroom and killed several people. Later, a car bomb exploded near a building which houses the Somali security. al-Shabaab, which has been forced out of the cities by African Union and Somali soldiers, is attempting to regain the ground it lost and retake the city. The group has carried out a number of attacks in Mogadishu over the past year. These attacks are disrupting the stability and security that the country has had over the past two years.
Paul Ashley is the Senior Counter-Terrorist Analyst at 361 Security