Chad – Chadian troops have reportedly freed several hostages captured by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria on the 10 Aug 14 but re[ported on the 17 Aug 14. However, a number still remain in captivity, according to authorities. Chadian troops have rescued some 85 people kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists from fishing communities in Nigeria's remote northeast earlier this month, security sources state. Communication from Chadian counterparts of the interception of a convoy of buses carrying 85 Nigerians believed to have been kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists from Baga had been picked-up it was reported on the 16 Aug 14. Militants had sped off in motorboats across Lake Chad when they saw soldiers interrogating the convoy led by six Boko Haram gunmen in a routine check. The lake lies on the border between Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad. The abductions took place on the 10 Aug 14 during a militant raid on the remote north-eastern village of Doron Baga in which 28 people were killed and scores of homes burnt. Boko Haram says it wants to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.
Mali – Two UN peacekeepers have been killed and seven others were injured in a suicide attack on a UN patrol base in northern Mali it was reported on the 17 Aug 14. A pick-up truck laden with explosives drove into the UN camp in Ber, 50km (30 miles) east of Timbuktu, on the 16 Aug 14. A suicide attacker was among the dead, which included two soldiers from Burkina Faso serving with the UN. There was no checkpoint. The bomber was able to drive the vehicle right into the camp, among the tents, before blowing himself up. It comes after three other international peacekeepers - two Bangladeshi, one Chadian - were injured when their vehicles drove over mines in two separate incidents at the end of last week. Militants belonging to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb are known to use similar tactics such as the ones used in this last attack. Peace talks aimed at drawing up a road map for peace between the Malian government and Tuareg separatist rebels are due to resume in September. One of the separatist groups involved in talks, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), issued a statement on Saturday condemning the Ber attack and offering its condolences to the people and government of Burkina Faso. Nigeria – At least 19 people have been killed and 47 others injured when explosives carried by a girl, aged about 10, detonated in a crowded market in the Nigerian city of Damaturu, police have said on the 27 Jul 15. No one claimed responsibility for the explosion but the attack bears the hallmarks of the armed group Boko Haram. Police spokesman Toyin Gbadegesin said that the bomber, "a female of about 10 years old capitalised on the crowded entrance of the market where screening was being conducted and detonated the device". At least two other females were killed in the attack. Earlier this month at least nine people were killed in the city by a female suicide bomber as worshippers gathered to mark the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr.
Somalia – Al-Shabaab, al Qaeda’s official branch in Somalia, has claimed responsibility for bombing the popular Jazeera hotel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on the 23 Jul 15. The blast killed more than 10 people and injured many others. The jihadist group used a truck packed with explosives to target the hotel. A local police officer said that the truck “rammed the gates of the hotel” before detonating and an aid worker said that at least 21 people were injured in the blast. A Shabaab spokesman said that the bombing was in response to “attacks and helicopter bombing against al Shabaab by AMISOM and the Somali government.” AMISOM, or the African Union’s Mission in Somalia, recently forced Shabaab from two of its strongholds in southern Somalia. On the 22 Jul 15 AMISOM and Somali troops drove the jihadist group out of Bardere in the Gedo region. According to Somali media, the town was recaptured without a fight. Two days later, the town of Dinsor in the Bay region was also recaptured by a joint AMISOM-Somali mission. The two missions are part of a larger joint offensive to drive Shabaab out of its remaining strongholds in the country. The bombing occurred a day after Shabaab assassinated a Somali MP and another official from the prime minister’s office in two separate attacks in Mogadishu. The Jazeera hotel has been targeted in the past by the jihadist group. In early 2014, Shabaab launched a complex assault on the hotel. Three bombs exploded within an hour of each other, killing 11 people. The first attack occurred when a suicide bomber drove into the gate of the hotel, killing himself and four other people, while the second attack was a car bomb that detonated as first responders rushed to the scene. The third bomb exploded approximately one hour later in a car being searched by the military. [See LWJ report, 2nd Shabaab attack on Mogadishu’s Jazeera hotel.] In Sep 12, the group sent three suicide bombers to attack Somalia’s new president and Kenya’s foreign minister as they were speaking at the hotel. The two officials escaped unhurt, but at least seven people were killed. Shabaab routinely targets hotels in the Somali capital, as these are often meeting places for government officials and foreigners. On the 27 Mar 15 Shabaab stormed a hotel and briefly seized control of it before the jihadists were killed by security forces. On Feb. 20, a suicide assault team hit the Central Hotel, a gathering place for Somali parliamentarians and members of government, killing several senior Somali politicians. On Jan. 22, Shabaab claimed credit for the bombing at the SYL Hotel in Mogadishu that killed three people. The attack took place as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a delegation were at the hotel. The hotels sit in one of the most heavily fortified areas of Mogadishu, but the jihadist group retains the ability to strike in high-security zones of the capital. Last year, Shabaab attacked the parliament, the president’s compound, and a high security intelligence headquarters. In June 2013, a Shabaab team struck at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) compound in Mogadishu; several UNDP employees were killed and the jihadist group briefly took over the compound. While Shabaab has lost many of its major urban strongholds and areas in the rural south, it still controls large portions of southern Somalia and remains a potent force. The group maintains the capacity to conduct attacks inside Mogadishu and stage major attacks on African Union forces in the country. Shabaab has also increasingly been able to mount large operations into neighboring Kenya.