Egypt – Egyptian police arrested dozens more Muslim Brotherhood supporters and deployed across Cairo before Friday prayers on the 27 Dec 13, as the government anticipated further protests from the Islamist movement despite having clamped down on dissent. Security sources stated that 32 Brotherhood supporters were held in a second wave of arrests since Wednesday (25 Dec 13), when the government designated the group a terrorist organisation. Security forces were stationed throughout the capital by the beginning of midday prayers and after one person died late on the 26 Dec 13 in street clashes ignited by political tension. Officials have issued a new round of harsher warnings against anyone taking part in protests in support of the Islamist movement that ran the country until July, saying they will be punished under terrorism laws. Some analysts warn the escalating crackdown on the Brotherhood risks triggering more violence in a country already facing the worst internal strife in its modern history.
Egyptian police ordered armed combat units to be deployed across the country with orders to use live ammunition after a car bomb at a police headquarters caused the worst loss of life on the country’s mainland for years it was reported on the 24 Dec 13. The explosion at a police building in the city of Mansoura, north of Cairo in the Nile Delta, marked the latest evidence that Islamist terror groups had broadened their sphere of operations outside their base in the Sinai Peninsula. A fierce army crackdown in the villages of northern Sinai that are home to the main terror group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or Supporters of Jerusalem, has lessened attacks in the area. But there are increasing numbers of bombings and shootings in the towns bordering the Suez Canal, and occasionally in the capital, Cairo. The attack in Mansoura, which killed 12 policemen and at least one other, according to officials and medical staff, may be a warning that it can operate anywhere with impunity. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based jihadist group, claimed responsibility for the attack on the 25 Dec 13.
Egypt's prime minister has declared the Muslim Brotherhood movement a "terrorist" group, after a car bomb ripped through a police building and killed at least 14 people on the 24 Dec 13. Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi's condemnation of the group comes just weeks ahead of a referendum on a new constitution that is billed as the first major step toward democracy since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July. "Prime Minister Beblawi has declared the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation," state news agency MENA quoted the premier's spokesman Sherif Showky as saying. An Egyptian court has already banned the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Morsi belongs, while the interim military-installed authorities have often accused the group of funding and training militants in the restive Sinai Peninsula. The move to declare the Brotherhood a "terrorist" organisation will likely be seen as a further push by the interim authorities to isolate the movement ahead of the constitutional referendum.
A homemade device had been put on a traffic island and a second one was being dismantled in what is thought to be a rare attack on civilians it was reported on the 26 Dec 13. The bomb had exploded near a public transport bus in the Egyptian capital, injuring five people. Security officials said the improvised bomb had been placed next to a bus in the north Cairo neighbourhood of Nasr City and police defused another bomb nearby. The interior ministry said the bomb had been planted in a grassy area at the intersection of two busy streets in Nasr City. The bombing in Cairo appears to be the first against civilian targets.
Ethiopia – Ethiopian police have arrested five more people suspected of plotting suicide bombings during Ethiopia’s World Cup qualifying match against Nigeria in October, it was reported on the 26 Dec 13. The planned attack failed when two Somali suicide bombers accidentally blew themselves up a few kilometres (miles) from Addis Ababa Stadium where soccer fans were gathering. The men who plotted the attack were all Somali nationals belonging to the militant Islamist group al Shabaab, Ethiopia’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and Federal Police said in a joint statement, read out on state television. “The plan was to hurl bombs at crowds gathered around the stadium and two malls, then enter the stadium and carry out a suicide attack,” one of the suspects said on Ethiopian Television.
Libya – A suicide bomber early on the 22 Dec 13 rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a security checkpoint in Bersis, near Benghazi, killing at least 13 people. "What happened in Bersis has only been seen in Iraq and Afghanistan," Libya Herald quoted Benghazi Joint Security Room spokesman Ibrahim Shara as saying. The suicide bombing signalled the start of a "dangerous stage" for the country, he added. This fear of the country turning into something similar to Iraq and Afghanistan is a reasonable one. With the amount of unrest, militias, weapons and explosives operating in the country along with a weak government and military unable to present a reasonable security force then this trend is likely to continue. Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack the Libyan military believe that Ansar al-Sharia the al-Qaeda linked group to be responsible.
Nigeria – Fighters from Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamist sect armed with anti-aircraft guns and grenade launchers attacked a barracks in the volatile northeast and battled soldiers for several hours on the 21 Dec 13. The army said it used troops and planes to repel Friday's assault in the town of Bama, the second Islamist attack on a military base this month. Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a coordinated strike on the 2 Dec 13 on the air force base and military barracks in the main north-eastern city of Maiduguri. It was first major assault this year on the heavily guarded city, which was also the birthplace of the radical Islamist movement ten years ago.
Puntland – On the 8 Jan 14 Puntland will hold its Presidential elections with each party accusing the other of failing the people of the country. The international community are watching the proceedings carefully as the country and the region are in an unstable state. Puntland, a region of about 3.5 million people that comprises roughly one-third of Somalia's land, had escaped much of the violence plaguing the country's south, where more than 17,000 African Union peacekeepers are battling the al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab, which is determined to overthrow Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's fragile government. Puntland and the breakaway Somaliland region, which are both located in northern Somalia, had the only functioning governments in the country after warlords brought down Somalia's central government in 1991 and before the current administration in Mogadishu came to power last year. Unlike Somaliland, though, Puntland still considers itself a part of the federal state of Somalia. The presidential election will not be open to all. Instead, Puntland's clan elders will nominate 66 representatives who will then elect a president. The winning candidate must receive at least 34 votes; if not, the three candidates with the highest number of votes will compete in a run-off. Puntland faces continued security problems. Though the region is relatively safe compared to Somalia's southern half, security has deteriorated in recent years, and at least four lawmakers and dozens of clan elders and clerics have been killed. The region is also engaged in a low-level battle with fighters in a mountainous region near the port city of Bosaso. "That is what happens when members of security forces go without pay for several months," It was stated by a candidate for the position of president. "There is no incentive to be vigilant and keep the peace in the region."
Somalia – Unidentified gunmen shot dead four doctors, their driver and guard on the 18 Dec 13 as they travelled to a hospital outside Mogadishu. Three of the doctors were confirmed to be Syrian nationals, while the fourth was Somali. The doctors were shot while en route to Fiqi Hospital in Elasha Biyaha, which lies on the road between Mogadishu and former al-Shabaab stronghold Afgoye. Eyewitnesses said armed men in military uniforms opened fire on the doctors' vehicle. This is the second attack against doctors operating at Fiqi Hospital, following the murder of the hospital's former director Dr. Osman Abdirahman Fiqi in Jul 13. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far; however, a senior al-Shabaab official said they did not carry out the attack.
At least eight people were killed in Mogadishu on the 27 Dec 13 when a remotely controlled bomb exploded in a busy restaurant in the Somali capital. Police suspect al Qaeda-linked Islamist group al Shabaab of planting the bomb, which went off in the notoriously insecure Dayniile district where, police say, al Shabaab militants often hide. The rebels were pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011 by African Union peacekeeping troops but over the past year al Shabaab has carried out several large scale attacks on high profile targets, denting gradual security improvements in Mogadishu.
South Sudan – It was reported that at least two UN peacekeepers from India have been killed in an attack on a United Nations base in South Sudan. The UN said attackers from the country's second-largest ethnic group forced their way into the Akobo base in conflict-wracked Jonglei state on the 19 Dec 13, pursuing civilians from a rival ethnic group who had taken refuge there. Contact with the base was lost after the assault and UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the fate of more than 30 ethnic Dinka civilians sheltering at the base had not been known. "There are indications that civilians may have been killed and wounded in the attack, but this remains to be verified. Should these reports prove true, those responsible must be held accountable for their crimes," the statement said from the UN. Ambassador Asoke Mukerji said the three peacekeepers were "targeted and killed" during an attack by ethnic Nuer youths. Rapidly escalating ethnic violence has raised fears of instability in the world's newest country. About 450 people have been killed in the capital, Juba, since battles broke out on the 15 Dec 13, including around 100 soldiers. About 20,000 people have sought refuge at UN facilities in Juba.