Egypt – Two Egyptian policemen were shot dead by masked men on the 6 Jan 15 as they stood guard at a Coptic Christian church in a city south of Cairo. Egypt's Coptic Christmas fell on the 7 Jan 15 and security was tightened at churches ahead of the holiday after a string of attacks on Christian targets over the past years. Interior Ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif said the attack in Minya was not sectarian. "[It] has nothing to do with any of the holidays of our Coptic brothers; it is instead aimed at the security forces, to try to undermine their resolve." The country's Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 per cent of the population of 85 million, have largely coexisted peacefully with majority Sunni Muslims for centuries. 361 COMMENT: It is difficult to see why this incident is not sectarian. No matter who is to blame or where the blame lies this is still a sectarian attack. It is doubtful that the Coptic Christians will take revenge. But Muslim groups who have a grudge to bear after the ousting of the Morsi Brotherhood government will see them as an easy target to attack and blame even though they had nothing to do with the political leadership outcome. COMMENT ENDS
Libya – ISIL’s new affiliate in Libya has claimed responsibility for kidnapping more than 20 Christian hostages, mostly Egyptian Copts who went missing earlier this month it was reported on the 14 Jan 15. "Urgent. Soldiers of the Islamic State captured 21 Christian crusaders," jihadists from the self-declared ‘State of Tripoli’ group said in a statement posted online. Photo-shopped pictures of several men were posted alongside the brief statement, prompting horror from Christian families inside neighbouring Egypt who have waited weeks for news of their relatives’ whereabouts. A spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry confirmed that 20 Egyptians had been abducted in two separate incidents in Libya. On the 3 Jan 15 Christian activists in Egypt had reported thirteen of their countrymen kidnapped in the Libyan town of Sirte, and that seven others had been kidnapped a week earlier.
Kenya – Gunmen attacked a truck carrying Kenyan soldiers near the border with Somalia on the 1 Jan 15 seriously wounding three of them. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the assault. But it bore the hallmarks of the al-Shabaab, the Somali Islamist militant group. The attack on the 1 Jan took place in the village of Mangai in Lamu County, the area’s police commander, Ephantus Kiura, said. The Shabaab have said they will continue their assaults to persuade Kenya to pull its troops out of Somalia, where its forces have joined other African Union troops battling the militants.
Morocco – A group of around 60 unidentified youths armed with Molotov cocktails attacked a police station in Western Sahara's administrative capital Laayoune on the 8 Jan 15. The youths, who were chanting slogans in support of the Western Sahara independence movement the Polisario Front, burned down the police station and vandalised several residential and commercial buildings in the city's Al Maatalla neighbourhood. Six members of the security forces were injured. The scale of the protest highlights a growing risk of violent civil unrest in Western Sahara. Disillusionment among the Sahrawi has been intensified by the actions of the Moroccan security forces, which have arrested several political activists and bloggers in recent months.
Nigeria – Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has vowed to defeat militant group Boko Haram, after a series of attacks blamed on the group in recent weeks he said on the 1 Dec 14. Earlier on 1 Jan 15 at least 10 people were injured by a suicide bomber near a church in Gombe, north-east Nigeria. "I want to assure you that the terrorists will not get away with the atrocities, they will not win," Mr Jonathan said in his new year's address. "We will bring justice to the savage terrorists known as Boko Haram. They will be defeated." Mr Jonathan, who is up for re-election in Feb 15, has made similar pledges before and has faced criticism for failing to stop the militants.
Two suspected child suicide bombers blew themselves up in a market in north-east Nigeria on the 11 Jan 15 killing three people in the second apparent attack in two days using young girls strapped with explosives. The blasts struck around mid-afternoon at an open market selling mobile phones in the town of Potiskum in Yobe state, which has frequently been attacked by the jihadist group Boko Haram. The bombers were thought to be about ten years old. The 11 Jan 15 explosions came a day after a bomb strapped to a girl aged about 10 years old exploded in a busy market place in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, killing at least 16 people and injuring more than 20. The military lost ground in worst-hit Borno state over the weekend of 10/11 Jan 15 after insurgents took over the town of Baga and nearby army base, killing over 100 people and forcing thousands to flee. The defence headquarters said on the 10 Jan that the army was regrouping to retake the area. In all, the jihadist group controls about 20,000 square miles of territory - an area the size of Belgium - which it runs as a mini Islamic state.
Incidents in Nigeria during the reporting period:
01 Jan 15 – Suicide bomber near church in Gombe north-east Nigeria.
02 Jan 15 – Double suicide bombings claim seven lives.
03 Jan 15 – Boko Haram gunmen kidnap Nigerian villagers in Malari north-east Nigeria.
03 Jan 15 – Boko Haram terrorists overruns multi-national joint task force base in Baga north-east Borno state.
07 Jan 15 – Boko Haram attacked Baga town and burnt most of it to the ground. The possibility of over 2000 people killed in Baga and the surrounding area after the military fled.
10 Jan 15 – Boko Haram terrorist incident suspected after a girl of 10-years-old blows herself up in north-east Nigeria.
11 Jan 15 – Boko Haram uses two young girls as suicide bombers in Pokiskum, Yobe State.
361 COMMENT: The Nigerian government claimed that only 250 were killed in Baga. A report by Amnesty International claimed that 2, 500 were murdered by Boko Harem during the attack. The government is attempting to play down the attacks for the up-and-coming elections. But with daily incidents growing stronger and more often it must be difficult for the current government to play down the deaths from terrorism. Boko Harem holds most of the cards in the north-east of Nigeria and no matter which government party is elected then their troubles with the terrorist group will continue unless some very strong leadership is found. If the elections do not have a decent result and any opposition fights the decision then Boko harem will fill the void and become stronger. Currently it is thought that Boko Haram hold about 20, 000 square miles of territory, which is in itself a small caliphate. COMMENT ENDS.
Somalia – Somalian Al-Shabaab militants attacked a military base in the outskirts of the town of Baidoa on the 2 Jan 14 killing at least seven soldiers. The attack came two days after the United States said it had killed the chief of Al-Shabab’s intelligence and security wing, Tahliil Abdishakur, in a drone strike. A spokesman for Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab said the group had briefly seized the base and killed more than 10 soldiers. Al-Shabaab often cites a higher death toll than the number given by officials. In a separate incident in central Somalia on the 1 Dec Al-Shabaab ambushed a government convoy carrying food aid, killing one soldier, Somali officials said. A spokesman for Al-Shabaab confirmed the group was behind the attack. Also in Mogadishu, a car bomb, claimed by Al-Shabaab, killed one person and injured three others.
Uganda – Uganda's military has confirmed that a senior commander in the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) movement has been taken into custody by US forces it was reported on the 7 Jan 14. The International Criminal Court (ICC) wants to put Mr Ongwen on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is considered by some to be a deputy commander to LRA chief Joseph Kony. The LRA has abducted thousands of children in northern Uganda, and neighbouring countries, forcing the boys to become fighters and the girls to become sex slaves. Earlier, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that when the man surrendered, he said was an LRA defector. Mr Ongwen is said to have commanded the LRA's Sinia Brigade which has been blamed for some of the worst atrocities the group carried out in northern Uganda. Joseph Kony and the LRA have waged war in Uganda and the region for more than two decades. He says the LRA is fighting to install a government in Uganda based on the Biblical Ten Commandments. The group first emerged in Uganda but its estimated 200-500 fighters have terrorised large swathes of DR Congo, South Sudan and the CAR.