Central African Republic – At least ten people have been killed in clashes between rival armed groups in Central African Republic, police said on the 8 Mar 16. The violence in the eastern town of Bambari appeared to be "in reprisal" for the murder of two young Muslims by unidentified assailants on the 2 Mar 16 a police spokeswoman said. "We currently have a tally of ten dead, including the two young Muslims whose death prompted the violence," the spokeswoman said, adding that "a majority" of the victims were civilians. Observers had hoped new President Faustin-Archange Touadera's accession to power on February 20 would close a three-year spiral of violence between rival groups that has left thousands dead and displaced more than 400,000 people. The Mining town Bambari is a stronghold of mainly Muslim former Seleka rebels. The city was the site of numerous inter-ethnic confrontations which left hundreds dead across 2014 and 2015 and forced thousands to flee. But the violence receded under a transitional government supported by international peacekeepers, notably deployed by former colonial power France, and the United Nations. Touadera, a former prime minister during the 10-year reign of former president Francois Bozize, whose ousting in 2013 triggered the unrest, takes over a country rich in natural resources but mired in biting poverty as it seeks to rise above ethnic strife. On the 7 Mar 16 the UN released a new report that warned that the ongoing conflict in CAR continued to have a devastating impact on children. "I am deeply troubled by the scale and nature of violations endured by children in the Central African Republic," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his latest report on children and armed conflict in CAR. The UN documented the killing of 333 children and maiming of 589 others in brutal attacks targeting communities for reprisals or other motives between January 2011 and December 2015. The majority of these attacks were documented between 2013 and 2014, after the government takeover by the Seleka and the rise of anti-Balaka militias. The surge in violations included large-scale recruitment and use of children and the targeting of children based on their religious affiliations.
Ivory Coast – Al Qaeda's North African branch has claimed responsibility for a terror attack on an Ivory Coast beach resort on the 13 Mar 16 in which 16 people, including four Europeans, were killed. Six gunmen targeted hotels on a beach at Grand Bassam, a weekend retreat popular with Western expatriates about 25 miles east of the commercial capital Abidjan, before being killed in clashes with Ivorian security forces, the government said. A top French expert said that the attack was "clearly against France", which has former colonial ties with the country and a continent of 600 soldiers nearby. "Six attackers came onto the beach in Bassam this afternoon," Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara said during a visit to the site. "We have 14 civilians and two special forces soldiers who were unfortunately killed." Hamed Bakayoko, Ivory Coast's interior minister, said foreign citizens from France, Germany, Burkina Faso, Mali and Cameroon were among the victims. On Twitter, one of those killed was identified as Henrike Grohs, director of the Goethe Institute in Abidjan. Mr Bakayoko also told state television that authorities were in possession of a mobile phone they hoped would prove a valuable lead in finding those responsible for the attack. Beachgoers were filmed screaming and running into nearby hotels for cover as up to four balaclava-clad gunmen sprayed bullets indiscriminately while shouting “Allahu Akbar”. Marie-Claire Yapi was separated from her nine-month old baby and her sister in the chaos. She said she was told the attackers were speaking in Arabic and everyone understood they were terrorists. "It was truly, truly, terrifying, it was indeed terrorists,” eyewitness Marie-Claire Yapi, who was separated from her nine-month old baby and her sister in the chaos, told FRANCE 24. Someone said to me: 'Run, this is serious – they are killing everyone.' Witnesses described the attackers as African, armed with Kalashnikovs and grenade belts and dressed in casual clothes who shot at “anyone they could find” as they “calmly” walked along the packed beachfront of Grand Bassam, 25 miles east of the capital Abidjan at lunchtime on Sunday. At least one is thought to have been killed as they met police and a shootout ensured. At around 1830 hrs local time, an army officer in Grand Bassam said two attackers were encircled by Special Forces. The attack is the third on West African establishments popular with Westerners since November. In November, the Radisson Blu in Mali’s capital Bamako was targeted in an attack which left 20 dead, then in January gunmen entered the Hotel Splendid and nearby Cappuccino Café in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou, killing 30. François Hollande, French president, said in a statement that he "strongly condemns the cowardly attack that caused the death of at least ten civilians, including at least one French national, and several members of the security forces in Grand Bassam". Local media cited a hotel employee named JB Beugré as saying that the gunmen arrived by fishing boat and their attack lasted three hours. According to a doctor at Bassam's main hospital, two dead and 17 injured people had been brought in. The latest attack also bore similarities to an attack by Islamic State in the Levant in June 2015 on the Tunisian beach resort of Sousse, which claimed 38 lives of mainly British tourists. Responsibility for the two West African incidents was claimed by AQIM which vowed to carry out more attacks. Witnesses said that they started at the Etoile du Sud hotel and then made their way along the beach, which was packed as it was Sunday afternoon. Other witness said that they saw two men with guns, Kalashnikovs. Their faces were bare and could see they were Africans. They were in their thirties and were dressed in civilian clothes. Analysts have been warning for some time that its relative wealth in the region, popularity as a hub for Western agencies and relatively lax security could make it a target for jihadists based in Mali, along with Senegal. Lemine Ould M. Salem, an expert on al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and author of a book The Bin Laden of the Sahara, said Sunday’s attack would either be claimed al-Mourabitoun, the al-Qaeda-linked group which carried out the Burkina Faso and Mali attacks, or Boko Haram, the terror group based in Nigeria. "I have always said that Abidjan and Dakar (the capital of Senegal) are the next targets for jihadist groups because these two countries represent windows of France in Africa," he said. Dr Robert Besseling, of the Exx Africa business risk intelligence group, said the French security services had been warning "for at least a year" of an imminent attack on the relatively affluent West African nations of Ivory Coast and Senegal. He said that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb, which claimed responsibility, is expanding its operations southwards from its traditional Sahel heartland and adopting the more aggressive tactics of Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL). "Since the middle of last year, Côte d’Ivoire has stepped up security in northern areas and predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods of the commercial capital, Abidjan, in response to a growing jihadist presence near its border with southern Mali," Dr Besseling said. "Details gained from intercepted communications and human sources have revealed that Islamist groups are considering using car bombs, attacking public areas popular with foreigners, and targeting beaches in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, which both have substantially more Western expatriates and visitors than the Sahelian countries previously targeted." He said that the Grand Bassam attack was most likely carried out by jihadist fighters from al-Mourabitoun, which rejoined al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb in 2015 and conducted the recent Mali and Burkina Faso terror attacks. "The attack on Abidjan is indicative of a rising threat to expatriates in West Africa, including in cities such as Dakar in Senegal and Accra in Ghana, as well as Lagos in Nigeria," he added. 361 COMMENT: It appears there is now a different style of tactic. The terrorists know that one man can be affective with a weapon. In this attack it appears they split up and attacked different locations thus allowing for more mass casualties. This type of tactic would also be difficult for the Security Forces to contain as command and control would be stretched with communications being difficult for some time as they attempt to ascertain the scale of the attack. The Security Forces would not be able to rely on information from panic stricken tourists. They would have to have soldiers on the ground finding out facts before they attempt to gain control and kill or capture the terrorists. The attackers also appeared from the sea as land forces secure that area of attack. Holiday resorts in Africa and Europe will have to secure the sea from future terrorist attacks on tourists. COMMENT ENDS
Libya/Da’esh – Security forces in the western Libyan city of Sabratha said they had killed seven suspected ISIS fighters in a raid on a militant hideout on 3 Mar 16. Local brigades have been battling militants in Sabratha since they briefly overran the city centre during the last reporting period and beheaded more than 10 brigade members. That followed a U.S. air strike on the outskirts of Sabratha on the 19 Feb in which more than 40 people were killed. Sabratha is one of several Libyan cities in which militants loyal to ISIS have established a presence, taking advantage of the political chaos that has plagued Libya since Muammar Qaddafi was toppled in an uprising five years ago. A spokesman for Sabratha’s military council, Sabri Kshada, said Wednesday’s raid took place about 20 km (12 miles) south of the city. “Our forces were confronted by the militants and there was an exchange of fire,” he said. Three suspects escaped during the operation, and a Syrian fighter and a female Tunisian militant with a three-year-old son were detained, Kshada said. Earlier, Kshada said that 46 members of local brigades had been killed in clashes with militants since last week. He could not give a toll for the militants, but said a “great number” had died. The situation in the city was largely calm, he said, with state offices expected to reopen in the next few days. Also on the 3 Mar 16 military forces in the eastern city of Benghazi said four troops had been killed in clashes with militants near the university. Colonel Abdullah al-Shaafi said troops had advanced during fierce fighting in the Garyounis neighbourhood, south-west of the city centre. A medical source said at least five people died and nine were wounded. Military forces loyal to Libya’s eastern government have made major gains over the past 10 days in Benghazi, where they have long been fighting ISIS militants and other armed groups in the city’s streets.
Tunisia/Libya – At least 45 people have been killed in clashes between security forces and armed men in a Tunisian city near the border with Libya it was reported on the 7 Mar 16. The Tunisian interior ministry said at least 28 attackers, 10 soldiers and seven civilians were killed in Monday's gun battle in Ben Gardane. The attackers simultaneously targeted an army barracks and police posts with heavy weaponry, including rocket-propelled grenades. An ambulance was also stolen in the clashes. While the situation has calmed down, authorities said a curfew will be implemented in the city on Monday evening. "We have decided to impose a curfew in Ben Guerdane on both vehicles and pedestrians ... starting from today [Monday] between 7pm [1800 hrs GMT] and 5am [0400 hrs GMT]," an interior ministry statement said. A security and military campaign began during the reporting period in Ben Gardane, after Tunisian security officials said "terrorist groups" sneaked into the country. Officials said the campaign followed raids in Libya against fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. Fighters trained in Libya carried out several attacks inside Tunisia last year. Ben Gardane is a strategically important town that is regarded as the "gateway to Libya". It serves as a hub for arms trafficking and smuggling of everyday goods. "Tunisia has built a fence along the border with Libya but that doesn't seem to stop the movement of armed attackers coming in from Libya and targeting the army and security forces," she said. "In the past week we have seen several incidents of people coming across." Habib Essid, Tunisia's prime minister, ordered the defence and interior ministers to head to Ben Guerdane to oversee operations against the members of the armed group. Last Wednesday, troops killed five armed men in a fire-fight outside the town in which a civilian was also killed and a commander wounded. Troops have been on alert in the border area following reports that fighters had been slipping across since a US air strike on an ISIL training camp in Libya on February 18 killed dozens of Tunisian fighters. At least four of the five fighters killed in last week's fire-fight were Tunisians who had entered from Libya in a bid to carry out attacks in their homeland, the interior ministry said. Tunisia has built a 200km barrier that stretches about half the length of its border with Libya in an attempt to stop fighters infiltrating.
Tunisia/Da’esh – ISIS supporters on social networks have launched an online campaign against the Tunisian regime, titled "Topple The Tunisian Tawaghit." The campaign comes against the backdrop of the events of the last few days, especially the massive ISIS attack on Tunisian army forces in the town of Ben Guerdane on March 7, as well as efforts by the authorities to discourage Tunisians from travelling to the jihad arenas. The campaign has included articles, banners, videos and the like, many of which were posted under a designated Twitter hashtag: "terrorize the Tunisian tawaghit." (10 Mar 16)
Mali – Ansar Dine, a Tuareg jihadist front for Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, has claimed four recent attacks in Mali it was reported on the 5 Mar 16 by the LWJ. Most of the attacks occurred in the northern part of the West African nation, but one occurred in the more secure Segou region in central Mali. Ansar Dine claimed the attacks in one of the first statements released by their new propaganda outfit – Al Rimaah Media – which were later obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. In the northern region of Kidal, Ansar Dine claimed to detonate improvised explosive devices on three UN vehicles near Aguelhok, Tesslitnear and Kidal. The jihadist group also claimed to target a UN camp in Kidal with rockets. Further south in the Segou region, Ansar Dine claimed “attacking a checkpoint of the Malian army in the area of Macina, resulting in another number of killed and wounded in the ranks of the army.” Local media reported four jihadists attacked a gendarmerie base in the town, while others reported that the attack left four dead and several vehicles stolen. The assault, which is one the southernmost so far this year, was likely carried out by Ansar Dine’s Fulani front, the Macina Liberation Movement. According to data compiled by The Long War Journal, there have been at least 40 al Qaeda-linked attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso since Jan 16. Most have occurred in the northern half of Mali, however, several have taken place in the more secure southern portion of the country.
Morocco – Morocco's Interior Ministry says it has dismantled a five-member ISIS group cell on the 7 Mar 16 which was planning to detonate explosives in crowded public spaces. The brief statement said the cell had planned to make the explosives using a pressure cooker, and made plans to train in Libya, where the extremist group has made inroads. Monday's statement didn't specify the nationalities of those arrested, but Moroccans make up a large portion of ISIS recruits.
Somalia – On the 5 Mar 16 the U.S. military stated that in self-defence and in defence of our African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) partners, conducted an airstrike in Somalia against Raso Camp, a training facility of al-Shabaab, which is a terrorist group affiliated with al-Qaeda. The strike was conducted using manned and unmanned aircraft. The fighters who were scheduled to depart the camp posed an imminent threat to U.S. and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in Somalia. The removal of these fighters degrades al-Shabaab's ability to meet the group's objectives in Somalia, including recruiting new members, establishing bases, and planning attacks on U.S. and AMISOM forces. We continue to assess the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate.
Somalia – Six people were wounded when a bomb planted inside a notebook computer exploded at an airport in Somalia on the 7 Mar 16 the second such attack in recent weeks targeting civilian aviation in the country. The bomb detonated at a checkpoint in the small central town of Beledweyne, about 325km north of the capital Mogadishu, where last month al-Shabaab fighters claimed responsibility for a blast that tore a gaping hole in a passenger plane shortly after takeoff. "A laptop computer went off at the screening area, and the security forces have also managed to defuse two other explosive devices, one of them planted in a printer," police Lieutenant-Colonel Ali Dhuh Abdi said. "Six people were wounded, two of them policemen." The blast on Monday took place where security screening is carried out before cargo and passenger luggage are loaded on to planes. The security checkpoint was manned by African Union troops from Djibouti, as well as Somali government security forces. No immediate claim of responsibility for the attack was made. On 2 Feb 16 a blast punched a one-metre-sized hole in the side of an Airbus A321 about 15 minutes after it had taken off from Mogadishu heading for Djibouti. The suspected bomber is believed to have died after being sucked out of the aircraft, which managed to turn around and land safely. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility saying the bomb targeted Western officials and Turkish NATO forces thought to be on the flight. The armed group said the operation was "retribution for the crimes committed by the coalition of Western crusaders and their intelligence agencies against the Muslims of Somalia".
Somalia – A suicide car bombing hit a police station in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, killing at least three police officers, local sources said. Armed group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack early on the 9 Mar 16 and confirming that a car bomb was used. The blast hit a tea stand in front of the police station where new recruits are trained in the Abdi Aziz district of Mogadishu.
Sudan – Tens of thousands of people have been killed in South Sudan's two-year civil war, the UN said, putting the death toll much higher than estimates by aid groups that operate in the country. An unnamed UN official told news agencies on the 3 Mar 16 that 50,000 have died in the conflict, which is a fivefold increase of the toll previously reported by humanitarian agencies.Fighting is still ongoing, despite a peace agreement between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar signed in Aug 15. The two men's power struggle started in December 2013 and prompted a cycle of retaliatory killings along ethnic lines between Kiir's Dinka and Machar's Nuer people. UN spokesperson Ariane Quentier in Juba said that "tens of thousands" had been killed in the war but that the exact number was difficult to verify. "The country has hardly any roads and besides that moving around is very dangerous. It is impossible for anyone in or outside the country to have exact numbers," she said. The battle for control of South Sudan has repeatedly pushed the country to the brink of famine, with millions of people dependent on the UN and aid agencies. In Jan 16 both sides of the conflict agreed to share positions in a transitional government, and in Feb 16 Kiir reappointed Machar to his former post as vice president. But despite the reconciliatory rhetoric there have been multiple clashes in the past weeks, according to Quentier. Last month, the UN stated that South Sudan's warring parties were still killing, abducting and displacing civilians and destroying property. Ahmed Soliman, a regional analyst at Chatham House in London, said there was a lot of undocumented killing going on. "Since the August agreement, fighting even occurred in new areas." "The UN is clearly not overseeing what is really happening on the ground. There is limited access, they are overstretched and mainly focusing on their camps," Soliman said. "The actual amount of people suffering [in] this war is hard to tell," he added. "There are people dying of hunger and isolation in an attempt to flee the violence. To make a reasonable estimate of the people affected in the country is a very hard task right now." Currently the UN peacekeepers are sheltering nearly 200,000 people at six protection sites in South Sudan. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the leaders of South Sudan last month to respect the terms of a peace agreement that ended two years of civil war last year.