Cameroon – Two children carrying explosives blew themselves up on the 3 Jun 17 near a camp in northern Cameroon housing civilians displaced by Nigeria's Boko Haram militants, killing nine people and wounding 30, officials said. They entered the town of Kolofata, around 10 km (6 miles) from the border with Nigeria, before dawn, posing as refugees looking for food before the start of the daytime fast for Ramadan. "Two suicide bomber adolescents aged between 10 and 15 years infiltrated the town of Kolofata," Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary told state radio, adding that both had detonated their explosives. "The death toll is 1l, including the two suicide bombers, and 30 wounded, of which 10 are seriously wounded," he added. A local government official said the 10 gravely wounded had been transported to a hospital in a nearby town. Northern Cameroon has in recent years suffered from the overflow of violence linked to Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamist insurgents. Nigerian refugees have flooded across the border and local residents have been forced to flee their homes. Boko Haram launches frequent cross-border raids in its bid to carve out an Islamic caliphate. Villages and towns in the area have regularly been targeted by bombers. The officials said that the 3 Jun 17 bombing came a day after two young girls detonated their explosives in the nearby village of Djakana, killing themselves and lightly injuring two members of a local civilian self-defence force. Kolofata has repeatedly been struck in the past, including one attack that killed nine people in Sep 15. Nigeria's army has retaken much of the territory once occupied by Boko Haram, and a military coalition of regional neighbours has helped fight the Islamist insurgents across the borders in Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The Cameroonian government has deployed thousands of soldiers, including elite units, to the Far North region.
Central African Republic (CAR) – Mid-May (13 Jun 17) the armed group the Popular Front for the Renaissance of Central African Republic (FPRC) marched into the town of Bria in the Central African Republic (CAR). Tens of thousands of, mostly Christian, civilians were displaced as the group faced off with anti-balaka fighters in the town, located some 600km northeast of the capital, Bangui. Around 85 percent of the town's residents fled. At least 60 people were killed in Bria, as the FPRC rebels, a faction of the Seleka, a Muslim-led coalition that toppled then President Francois Bozize in a coup in 2013, targeted the mainly Christian anti-balaka fighters and anyone they considered to be associated with the group. Thousands of people - both Muslim and Christian - have been killed in the country and almost a million displaced since the coup. Christians and Muslims have been pitted against each other, although most analysts agree that the conflict is actually about taxation and who has control of the country's mineral resources. But the religious dimension to the armed groups and the violence they have wrought has nurtured animosity between the communities and made them increasingly isolated from one another. In Bria, the IDP camps are mainly inhabited by Christians, while those residents who remain in the town are largely Muslim. The two communities steer clear of each other, fearing reprisal attacks. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says there are daily incidents between Christians and Muslims in the town - which remains tense, economically dysfunctional and in a state of limbo. A month after the FPRC forces entered, some 41,000 people continue to live in squalid conditions in IDP camps around the town. In the PK3 camp, located 3km outside the town centre, around 26,000 people, mostly women and children, live in shelters made of pieces of wood sourced from the surrounding forests and plastic sheets provided by UN agencies. Sporadic violence has broken out in several areas of central and eastern CAR over the past month. Hundreds have been killed. There are currently more than 500,000 IDPs across the country.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – Eleven people were killed and more than 900 inmates have escaped after unidentified assailants attacked a jail in the Democratic Republic of Congo's restive east, an official said. "The Kangwayi prison in Beni was attacked at 3:30 pm by assailants whose identity is not yet known," Julien Paluku, governor of North Kivu province, told reporters on the 11 Jun 17. "In the exchange of fire between security forces and the attackers, authorities have [counted] 11 dead, including eight members of the security forces," it was reported to news agencies. "For the moment, out of 966 prisoners, there are only 30 left in the prison." The Beni area and the neighbouring town of Butembo had been put under curfew from 1830 hrs local according to Paluku. "Only police officers and soldiers should be out from this time," he said. Located in the north of the troubled North Kivu province, Beni has been the scene of a wave of violence since 2014 that has seen nearly 700 civilians killed, many of them hacked to death. The government blames the killings on a rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Not much is known of the group, which appears to be dominated by Ugandan Muslims who were initially focused on overthrowing Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni. Several dozen suspected ADF members were imprisoned at the Kangwayi jail. The attack came a day after the ADF attacked a police station and a prosecutor's office in the capital Kinshasa, killing a police officer and seriously injuring four others after a series of similar attacks over the past three weeks. It also comes after two jailbreaks in Congo in the past month. On the 19 May 17 dozens of prisoners escaped from a dilapidated prison in Kasangulu, about 40 km west of Kinshasa. Just two days earlier, rebels from Bundu Dia Kongo (BDK) - a secessionist rebel group that rejects Kinshasa's authority and wants to set up a parallel state in the west of the country - had attacked Kinshasa's main prison, freeing their leader and 50 others. The violence has erupted as Congo is mired in a deep political crisis tied to President Joseph Kabila's hold on power. Tension has been mounting across the nation since December when Kabila's second and final term officially ended. Under a power-sharing agreement brokered by the influential Catholic Church on New Year's Eve, Kabila is due to remain in office until elections at the end of 2017. However, Kabila earlier this month seemed to back away from the deal to hold a vote this year. "I have not promised anything at all," Kabila told the German weekly Der Spiegel in a rare media interview. "I wish to organise elections as soon as possible". "We want perfect elections, not just elections," he said.
The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF)
The Allied Democratic Forces (French: Forces démocratiques alliées; (ADF) is a rebel group in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and is considered a terrorist organisation by the Ugandan government. It was originally based in western Uganda but has expanded into the neighbouring DRC. Since the late 1990s, the ADF has operated in the DRC's North Kivu province near the border with Uganda. While repeated military offensives against the ADF have severely affected it, the ADF has been able to regenerate because its recruitment and financial networks have remained intact. The ADF was formed by puritanical Muslim Ugandans of the Tablighi Jamaat group who merged with the remnants of another rebel group, the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU). The main figure of the group was Jamil Mukulu, a former Protestant who converted to Islam. The members were largely from central Uganda, in particular Iganga, Masaka, and Kampala, and portray themselves as religious crusaders. Beyond this vaguely stated religious ideology and statements that the government discriminates against Tablighis, the ADF has given few coherent rationales for their insurgency. The ADF chose western Uganda apparently for three reasons: terrain that is ideal for a rural insurgency, proximity to the DRC where the rebels could set up bases and recruit fighters, and the presence of some Ugandan ethnic groups unfriendly to the government that could offer assistance. It received support from the government of Sudan, which was engaged in disputes with the government of Uganda. During Mar 07, the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) engaged incursive ADF groups in multiple fire fights, killing at least 46 in Bundibugyo and Mubende districts. The biggest battle occurred on 27 March, when the UPDF faced an estimated 60 ADF troops and killed 34, including three senior commanders. The UPDF claimed to have retrieved numerous weapons as well as documents that tied the ADF to the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). On the 13 Apr 07, the UPDF and ADF engaged in an intense battle inside the Semuliki National Park, near the upscale Semliki Lodge tourist destination. Ceasefire and amnesty talks between the government of Uganda and the ADF were held in Nairobi starting in May 08. Negotiations were complicated by the fragmentation of the ADF's leadership. Non-combatant dependents of the ADF were repatriated to Uganda by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). At least 48 ADF fighters surrendered and were given amnesty. As the threat from the LRA in the DRC waned, the UPDF put increasing focus on the ADF as a reason for UPDF personnel to remain in the DRC. In Apr 13, it was reported that ADF started a recruitment campaign in Kampala and other parts of the country. Citing a defector from ADF, AllAfrica.com reported that approximately ten new recruits joined ADF forces every day. In Jul 13, the ADF renewed its fighting in the Congolese district of Beni. According to the UN Radio Okapi, the ADF together with the NALU fought a pitched battle with the Military of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), briefly taking the towns of Mamundioma and Totolito. On 11 July, the ADF attacked the town of Kamango, triggering the flight of over 60,000 refugees across the border into the Ugandan district of Bundibugyo. Early in Sep 13, regional leaders under the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) asked the recently formed combative United Nations Force Intervention Brigade under the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to attack positions of foreign negative forces operating in the DRC, including the ADF. In late Sep 13, 3 people were killed and 30 abducted during an ADF attack in the Watalinga Sector, North Kivu, DRC. Omar Kavota, the vice president and spokesman of the local civil society in North Kivu, condemned the abductions. According to the civil society, the abductees also included eight minors. In Jan 14, the FARDC launched a major offensive against ADF forces in Beni. By April, Mukulu and other senior leaders of the group fled their headquarters camp from approaching FARDC forces. The remaining ADF fighters– alongside women and children – retreated into the forest, where their numbers were significantly reduced in the following months as a result of starvation, desertion, and continued FARDC attacks. In late Apr 15, the ADF's leader, Jamil Mukulu, was arrested in Tanzania. In Jul 15, he was extradited to Uganda. As of November 2015, the number of attacks on Congolese forces continued, with weekly attacks of varying size taking place and killing more than 400 people in 2015, especially in the territories of Beni (North Kivu) and Irumu (Ituri). The ADF have been blamed for the 2016 Beni massacre. The DRC government, citing civil society groups in North Kivu, claims that Al-Shabaab fighters from Somalia are collaborating with the ADF.
Libya – Libyan forces loyal to renegade General Khalifa Haftar and ISIL fighters launched simultaneous attacks against forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), just hours after unidentified fighter jets raided GNA-held areas it was reported on the 3 Jun 17. The Bunyan al-Marsous Forces, who support the Tripoli-based GNA, said they were simultaneously attacked on the 2 Jun 17 by both Haftar forces and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group in the central district of Jufra, south of Sirte. The GNA, formed in 2015, has struggled to exert its authority in Tripoli and beyond, or rein in armed groups, including ISIL, that have held power on the ground since the country's 2011 uprising. Haftar, a retired army general, is the self-proclaimed commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA). "Fresh fighting has erupted between forces loyal to renegade Commander Khalifa Haftar and forces loyal to the UN-backed GNA, helped by the Benghazi Defence Brigades in the area of al-Jufra in the central desert of Libya," a reporter said. Jufra is about 400km to the south of Sirte. He said fighter jets, believed to be Egyptian, attacked 14 locations in Jufra overnight on the 1 Jun 17 "including several residential areas and the Jufra airbase used by the UN-backed GNA forces". While there were no reports of casualties, our correspondent said the air raids had caused heavy material losses to GNA military points and installations. "The Bunyan Marsous Forces that were targeted by Egypt last night were the same forces that defeated ISIL in Sirte last year," he said. Egyptian jets carried out raids on ISIL camps in the Libyan port city of Derna, where men responsible for a deadly attack on Christians in Egypt were believed to have trained. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced at the time that he had directed attacks against what he called "terrorist camps", declaring in a televised address that states that sponsored "terrorism" would be punished. "Egypt will never hesitate to strike terror camps anywhere if it plans attacking Egypt whether inside or outside the country," Sisi said. The Egyptian government said at least 29 Coptic Christians were killed and dozens more wounded by armed men who attacked them while they were travelling to a monastery in Egypt's Minya province. In the last two years, Egypt's air force has carried out several attacks on Derna, notably in Feb 15 and Mar 6, which killed women and children.
Mali – A powerful Al-Qaeda-linked group on the 9 Jun 17 claimed an attack on a United Nations camp that killed three peacekeepers in Kidal in Mali's troubled north. The Group to Support Islam and Muslims, a fusion of three Malian jihadist groups with previous Al-Qaeda links, posted a statement on its Telegram channel saying it had targeted the UN base "with a set of mortar shells", wounding soldiers and causing significant material damage, the SITE extremism monitor reported. The UN mission in Mali, MINUSMA, said earlier on the 9 Jun 17 their Kidal camp "came under heavy rocket/mortar fire" and "a little later a position nearby was attacked" outside their base, killing three peacekeepers and wounding eight more. The Group to Support Islam and Muslims, also known as Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimeen in Arabic, is a fusion of three Malian jihadist groups with previous Al-Qaeda links formed in March. Led by the Malian jihadist Iyad Ag Ghaly, a former leader of the Ansar Dine Islamists, the group has claimed multiple attacks on domestic and foreign forces since its formation. The UN mission said it "condemned in the strongest terms these cowardly attacks against its personnel and the danger they cause for the civilian population." The attack is just the latest to target the 12,000-strong force in the West African nation. Guinean and Chadian soldiers make up the majority of troops stationed at the Kidal camp. MINUSMA began work in 2013, providing security and assisting Malian troops struggling to keep the country safe. It has been targeted constantly by jihadists, with dozens of peacekeepers killed. Northern Mali fell to jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in Mar 12, including Ansar Dine, and although these forces were driven out of key towns by a French-led military intervention the following year, the Islamists have now spread further south. Since 2015, jihadists have targeted Mali's centre and their activities have spilled over into neighbouring countries including Niger and Burkina Faso. Their last attack killed two peacekeepers on the 23 May 17 near Aguelhok, near the border with Algeria, while a Liberian peacekeeper was killed earlier in May close to Timbuktu. Both attacks were also claimed by the Group to Support Islam and Muslims. France on Tuesday asked the UN Security Council to authorise the deployment of a five-nation African military force to buttress the fight against jihadists in the Sahel region, with its base in Mali. The force would be under a separate command from MINUSMA and France's own counter-terror force in the Sahel region, but will be backed by the UN and European Union.
Analysis: Merger of al Qaeda groups threatens security in West Africa
The recent merger of several Mali-based al Qaeda groups is bad news for the already unstable Sahel region. The new al Qaeda entity will fuel an emboldened insurgency in Mali and allow for greater coordination throughout the region. Earlier this month, Ansar Dine, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s Sahara branch, Al Murabitoon, and Katibat Macina (also known as the Macina Liberation Front) merged to form Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (the “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims”). Iyad Ag Ghaly, a veteran Tuareg jihadist, heads the new entity, which is openly loyal to Ayman al Zawahiri and Abdelmalek Droukdel, the leader of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Analysis: Al Qaeda groups reorganize in West Africa.] Each of the constituents in the “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims” has contributed to a growing insurgency emanating from northern Mali, with more than 250 al Qaeda-linked attacks last year alone. The jihadists’ activity throughout the region in 2016 marked a 150 percent increase over calendar year 2015, when this same consortium of groups was suspected of launching approximately 106 operations. Ansar Dine claimed over 80 attacks, while AQIM claimed 21. The majority were never claimed, but were attributed to the jihadists. [See FDD’s Long War Journal, Al Qaeda linked to more than 250 West African attacks in 2016.] Most of these operations were located in Mali’s volatile northern region. However, at least 51 were perpetrated in the southern half of the country. Another 20 occurred in Burkina Faso, Niger and the Ivory Coast. Therefore, the jihadists had already widened the geographic scope of their operations before the merger. The newly formed “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims” is likely to increase this threat even further, as better coordination will potentially make it easier to plan operations against their common enemies. For instance, after the merger between Al Murabitoon and AQIM in late 2015, the latter was able to tap into Al Murabitoon’s resources to conduct raids on hotels in Bamako, Mali, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast. All of the constituent groups have engaged in guerrilla warfare, utilizing typical insurgent tactics such as ambushes and bombings with improvised explosive devices (IEDs). But Al Murabitoon is usually the subgroup that is behind the larger, more spectacular assaults. This includes January’s massive suicide attack on a Malian military base in Gao, which left at least 50 people dead. Just a week after its launch, the “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims” reportedly orchestrated a mass casualty assault on Malian troops. Ghaly’s organization has not released a formal statement claiming the raid. But according to the Mauritanian outlet ANI, the jihadists launched the Mar. 5 attack on a Malian army position near Boulkessi in the country’s central Mopti region. At least 13 soldiers were killed and many others wounded. It is likely that the former Katibat Macina of Ansar Dine was behind the Mar. 5 raid. Katibat Macina (a.k.a. the Macina Liberation Front) is predominately Fulani in ethnicity and is led by Amadou Kouffa, a close ally of Ghaly who fought alongside the jihadists during the takeover of northern Mali in 2012. Kouffa and his men operated as an arm of Ansar Dine prior to the merger. Kouffa appeared in Ghaly’s video announcement earlier this month. Katibat Macina and another one of Ansar Dine’s battalions, Katibat Khalid bin Walid, have been tasked with operations “south of the river,” which refers to the Niger River. Ansar Dine proper is largely confined to the Kidal region of northern Mali. AQIM’s Sahara branch has several battalions fighting in Mali and its most active unit, the Katibat al Furqan, operates in the Timbuktu region. Al Murabitoon is mainly based in the area surrounding Gao, as well as in neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso. There have been over 50 al Qaeda-linked attacks in Mali and neighbouring countries this year already, according to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal. Most of the operations have been carried out inside Mali, mainly in southern half of the country. However, at least 12 have been perpetrated in Burkina Faso and Niger. Many of the attacks in Burkina Faso are thought to be the work of Ansaroul Islam, a newly formed jihadist group. Ansaroul Islam is allegedly led by an ally of Kouffa, the leader of Ansar Dine’s Katibat Macina. While not confirmed, Ansaroul Islam is possibly a Burkinabe branch of Ansar Dine “in gestation,” according to Menastream. The French publication RFI has alleged that Kouffa radicalized Ansaroul Islam’s leader, Malam Ibrahim Dicko, in northern Burkina Faso. In posts made on its Facebook page, Ansaroul Islam confirmed that Dicko has met with Kouffa. Jeune Afrique has reported that Dicko initially tried to link up with jihadist groups in northern Mali in 2013, but was arrested by French forces in Tessalit and then subsequently released in 2015. Although Ansaroul Islam’s place in Ghaly’s joint venture is currently unclear, it is possible, if not likely, that Dicko and his fighters are part of it as well. Indeed, Ansaroul Islam may have been responsible for the aforementioned attack in Boulkessi earlier this month. Ghaly’s unified entity poses a major security threat not only inside Mali, but also throughout most of West Africa — well beyond Mali’s borders.
Somalia/al-Shabaab – A dawn raid by jihadists on a military camp in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region on the 8 Jun 17 left at least 10 soldiers dead, security officials said. The Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda group, claimed the attack saying it had killed 61 soldiers at the Af-Urur military base close to Golis Mountains, a well-known Islamist hideout. "Shabaab militants attacked the Puntland military base near Galgala. The security forces have repelled them but there were some casualties," said Ahmed Abdiweli, a local security official who gave a figure of 10 dead and "several others" wounded. "The militants also suffered heavy casualties and they have lost many of their fighters," he added. In a statement, the Shabaab said it had launched the raid killing scores of soldiers and stealing vehicles and weapons. Neither side's figures could be independently verified but residents reported heavy fighting. Different Islamist groups are active in Puntland, including one that split from the Shabaab in 2016 pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group. Last month it claimed its first suicide bombing, killing at least five people in the port town of Bossaso.
Somalia/al-Shabaab – Somalia's security forces have ended a night-long siege by al-Shabaab fighters at a popular Mogadishu restaurant where 20 people were taken hostage, police said. At least 19 people were killed when a car driven by a suicide bomber rammed into the Posh Hotel in south Mogadishu on the evening of the 14 Jun 17 before gunmen rushed into Pizza House, an adjacent restaurant, and took 20 people hostage. Soldiers surrounded the building and used guns mounted on the backs of vehicles to kill all five attackers, officials said. The building was secured after dawn on the 15 Jun 17 said senior Somali police office Mohamed Hussein. Bodies of five girls and a Syrian man who worked as a chef were found inside the restaurant, said police. "We are in control of the hotel but it was mostly destroyed by the suicide bomber," Abdi Bashir, a police officer said. Meanwhile, survivors recounted harrowing stories of hiding under tables, as armed attackers continued firing in the restaurant on Wednesday. Attackers moved from room to room, looking for people, said a survivor. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility. "A mujahid [fighter] with his suicide car bomb martyred himself after he rammed into Posh Hotel, which is a nightclub. The operation goes on," Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group's military spokesman said.