Egypt – On the 17 Nov 14 Egypt will double to one kilometre (0.62 mile) the depth of a security buffer zone it is clearing on its border with the Gaza Strip after some of the worst anti-state violence since President Mohamed Mursi was overthrown last year. Egypt declared a state of emergency in the border area after at least 33 security personnel were killed Oct 14 in two attacks in the Sinai Peninsula, a remote but strategic region bordering Israel, Gaza and the Suez Canal. It also accelerated plans to create a 500-metre deep buffer strip along the border by clearing houses and trees and destroying subterranean tunnels it says are used to smuggle arms from Gaza to militants in Sinai. "A decision was taken to increase the buffer zone along the border in Rafah to one kilometer. The decision ... came after the discovery of underground tunnels with a total length of 800 to 1,000 meters," the state MENA news agency said.
The new Sinai affiliate of the Islamic State has released a video to claim the 24 October attack on the Egyptian Army. The video shows a ruthless and sustained attack that overran a mechanised detachment of at least five armoured vehicles. The severity of the insurgency facing the Egyptian military in the Sinai Peninsula has been highlighted by a video showing the attack that reportedly killed at least 30 Egyptian soldiers on 24 Oct 14. The Egyptian authorities were vague about the incident, saying only that there had been a suicide vehicle bombing at a checkpoint near the town of Sheikh Zuwaid in North Sinai. A high-resolution video released on 14 Nov 14 by the Sinai Province of the Islamic State - a radical Sunni group that previously called itself Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis - showed militants carrying out drive-by shootings, roadside bombings against armoured vehicles, executions of captives, and sabotage attacks on gas pipelines. It also showed the large suicide vehicle bombing that began the 24 Oct attack, which targeted an Egyptian Army mechanised detachment that was dug in and equipped with at least two M60 tanks, two M113 armoured personnel carriers, and one YPR-765 armoured fighting vehicle. Gunmen in at least two pickup trucks then assaulted the position to hunt down and kill the survivors of the bombing. The soldiers managed to get one of the tanks running, but chose to flee rather than fight militants armed with RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The militants then had sufficient time to remove weapons, ammunition, and equipment from the position before the military responded. The equipment captured apparently included two 82 mm mortars, five .50 machine guns, four 7.62 mm FN MAG machine guns (two of them co-axial weapons taken from the turrets of armoured vehicles), about 20 AK rifles, and night-vision equipment.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Hani Abdel-Lattif told the state-run MENA news agency on 17 Nov 14 that the attack on 24 Oct 14 and another on an Egyptian Navy vessel on 12 Nov 14 could only have been carried out with the support of a foreign intelligence agency. The Egyptian Ministry of Defence released a statement on 13 Nov 14 saying one of its naval vessels was attacked off the port city of Damietta at dawn on the previous day. It said the assailants were killed and the four boats they used were destroyed, but five naval personnel were wounded and another eight were missing. While the authorities have offered no further details about the incident, the Egyptian media has reported that the vessel was lured to a group of boats by a distress call and then fired on with RPG-7s and other weapons.
The latest video is a major blow to the Egyptian military, which prefers to release as little information as possible. It shows that the army is struggling to suppress a highly motivated and ruthless jihadist insurgency more than a year after it stepped up operations in Sinai, where it needs Israeli approval to deploy forces. The Egyptian military presence in the peninsula has reportedly grown since Sep 13, when an Israeli commander revealed 10 regiments and eight AH-64D attack helicopters had been deployed to suppress the militancy that escalated in the wake of the coup in July of that year. The military presence may be further alienating Sinai's traditionally marginalised Bedouin population, but there are also underlying economic problems. Largely excluded from the tourism industry, the Bedouin were heavily involved in smuggling weapons, people, and other contraband into the Gaza Strip and Israel. This activity has presumably suffered in recent years as the Egyptian military has stepped up efforts to destroy the smuggling tunnels into the Palestinian territory and Israel has erected a security barrier across the remainder of the frontier.
On the 28 Nov 14 at least four protesters were killed and scores of others injured in the Egyptian capital as thousands took to the streets of Cairo against the government of President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, heeding to a call by the opposition Salafist Front. The protesters were killed after security forces opened fire in the district of Matrya in eastern Cairo. The protests by the Salafist Front, a faction concentrated in parts of the Nile Delta, are being held at the same time as regular Friday demonstrations that have been held by supporters of the now banned Muslim Brotherhood since the toppling of President Mohamed Morsi. On its Facebook page, the Salafist Front has called for a "Muslim Youth Uprising" to "topple military rule in Egypt," urging followers to "raise your Quran". The protests are the first attempt in months to hold large demonstrations in the country. More than a 100 people were arrested ahead of the Salafist demonstrations. Security officials have voiced concerns over possible attacks, especially after Egypt's main armed groups recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
An Egyptian militant organization allied with the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the killing of an American oil worker. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which now refers to itself as the Sinai Province, said on its official Twitter account late on the 30 Nov 14 that it killed William Henderson. It published pictures of his passport and two identification cards. It did not say when or how it killed him. The passport said he was a 58-year-old from Texas and his identification cards said he worked for Texas-based energy company Apache Corp. and Qarun Petroleum Co., a joint venture with Egypt. Apache said in August that one of its supervisors had been killed in an apparent carjacking in Egypt's Western Desert. The company did not identify the man. The Enid News & Eagle in north-western Oklahoma published an obituary for a man named William Henderson in August, saying he had "passed suddenly" while working in Egypt. It said he had worked for Apache for 28 years and was 58 when he died. The U.S. embassy declined to comment on the militant group's claim. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based jihadi group, has carried out a number of attacks mainly targeting Egyptian security forces, particularly since the Jul 13 overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Last month it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, which controls vast swaths of Syria and Iraq.
Kenya – One man was killed and more than 200 people arrested during raids on two mosques in the Kenyan city of Mombasa, which police accused of having links with Somalia's al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab fighters it was reported on the 17 Nov 14. Security forces began the operation in the early hours of the 17 Nov targeting the Musa and Sakina mosques in the port city. The police state that they had information that the group had been planning an attack, and that is why the raid was conducted. Eight grenades, a pistol, six bullets, machetes, knives and literature on warfare were found at the two mosques. Police also said they had seized mobiles and laptops, alongside literature and videos that they said referred to former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Kenyan preachers accused of promoting violence. Civil rights group condemned the raids, saying the security agents were targeting Muslims unfairly, deepening distrust in a Muslim community that already accuses the government in mainly Christian Kenya of sidelining them.
Gunmen from the Somali militant group al-Shabaab claimed they had attacked a bus in northern Kenya, killing 28 people it was reported on the 22 Nov 14. The bus was travelling to the capital, Nairobi, when it was stopped in Mandera County, not far from the Somali border. Gunmen separated out non-Muslims by asking passengers to read from the Koran, officials and witnesses said. Those who failed were then shot in the head. A statement on a website linked to the Islamist group carried a statement saying the attack was carried out in retaliation for security raids on mosques in the coastal city of Mombasa earlier this week. Kenya's interior ministry said on its Twitter feed that a camp belonging to the attackers had been destroyed by Kenyan military helicopters and jets, with "many killed". One of the passengers on the bus said that there were more than 60 passengers on board when it was attacked, before dawn on the 22 Nov, about 30km (19 miles) from Mandera town. The driver tried to accelerate away, but the vehicle became stuck in mud caused by recent heavy rains. About 10 heavily-armed men speaking Somali ordered the passengers off the bus; the passengers were then separated by Somali and non-Somalis. The non-Somalis were ordered to read some verses of the holy Koran, and those who failed to read were ordered to lie down. One by one they were shot in the head at point blank range. Some Somalis were shot after pleading with the gunmen to spare non-Somali passengers. 361 SECURITY COMMENT: Roads in Kenya, especially near the border with Somalia are difficult to patrol and deter terrorists from crossing. Attacks of this nature are conducted on very soft targets miles from any police or army patrols and checkpoints. Al-Shabaab will take note of this attack after its success and will no doubt attempt to carryout further attacks on civilian transport. There were mutterings from the population that the police have never come to the rescue of travellers in the past due to fear of being caught in an ambush. The questioning of the passengers on the Koran is similar to the West Gate attack in Nairobi. Al-Shabaab are definitely attempting to single out the non-Muslims probably in fear of a backlash should they target and kill them. This may have something to do with their attempt to gain support after many raids against them from Kenyan and other forces. Government sources claim that in response to the killing they had killed a hundred militants in retaliation. A claim not clarified elsewhere and refuted by al-Shabaab. COMMENT ENDS
In a follow up report on the 20 Nov 14 reference the arresting of 200 people and raiding Mosques in Mombasa the Kenyan police released further news regarding the operation. Kenyan police found explosives after a series of raids on three mosques on the 17 Nov 14 after suspicion of being supporters of al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab. Richard Ngatia, a local police chief, said investigators on the 19 Nov 14 found a grenade and three machetes at Mombasa's Mina Mosque, while two 10-litre petrol bombs and a bomb detonator were uncovered at Swafaa Mosque. Police raided two mosques on the 17 Nov seizing weapons and anti-government literature that they said was evidence of militant activity. Police had arrested 376 people during the raids, which started on the 16 Nov 14 but 91 were subsequently released for lack of evidence. Prosecutors said 158 would be charged with being members of al-Shabaab. "We have recovered a hand grenade, some petrol bombs, we recovered a bomb detonator, we recovered a booster, we also recovered paraphernalia associated with training in jihadism," Ngatia said. Kenyan Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said in a statement late on Tuesday that "houses of worship cannot and shall not be taken over by criminals or used for criminal activities, including terrorism".
Nigeria – Dozens of people have been killed in an attack by suspected Boko Haram militants in north-eastern Nigeria it was reported on the 20 Nov 14. Gunmen rampaged through the village of Azaya Kura in the Mafa area in Borno state, killing at least 45 people. Boko Haram had taken control of a series of towns and villages in north-eastern Nigeria in recent months. A leader of a vigilante fighter group said that heavily armed Boko Haram militants surged through Azaya Kura in several vehicles on the 19 Nov 14. The village is about 40km (25 miles) from Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.
At least 81 people have been killed and 150 others injured after two bombs exploded outside the central mosque of the Nigerian city of Kano. The attacks happened on the 28 Nov 14 outside the Emir's palace mosque just as residents were packing into the area for prayers. Two bombs exploded, one after the other, in the premises of the Grand Mosque just seconds after the prayers had started a third explosive device went off nearby. The blasts came after a bomb attack was foiled against a mosque in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri earlier on the 28 Nov five days after two female suicide bombers killed over 45 people in the city. A police spokesman stated that the bombers blew themselves up in quick succession, then gunmen opened fire on those who were trying to escape. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion is likely to fall on Boko Haram. 361 COMMENT: In the past Boko Haram have targeted and attacked Mosques and Imam’s who have spoken out against the terrorist group. This attack may have been as a result of that. COMMENT ENDS