At least 30 al-Qaeda-inspired militants, including top commanders, were killed in a Kenyan airstrike on their training camp in Somalia, it was reported on the 10 Jan 14. “KDF (Kenya Defense Force) fighter jets attacked the Shabaab camp, where a meeting was being held,” a senior KDF official stated. “Initial battle damage assessment indicates more than 30 Shabaab militants killed, including key commanders.” The airstrike, which took place on the 9 Jan 14, wounded dozens of other militants in the al-Shabaab camp. The camp is situated in Garbarahey in Gedo region, around 600 kilometers northwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu and near the border with Kenya and Ethiopia, according to the Kenyan military. Meanwhile, another military official said the Kenyan armed forces were trying to reveal the identities of those killed in the raid, adding “they are definitely big shots in the militant group’s hierarchy.” Five vehicles and other “key assets” were destroyed in the raid.
Libya – A bomb explosion near a courthouse in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi has killed one policeman and left another injured on the 7 Jan 14. The blast went off on Monday in a guard post outside a courthouse in central Benghazi. In recent months, Benghazi has witnessed attacks on security forces and officials on an almost daily basis. Since former dictator Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in 2011, Benghazi has been the scene of numerous attacks and political assassinations amidst an increasing power struggle among several militia groups who fought against Gaddafi during the uprising. The country’s former rebels have refused to lay down their arms, despite efforts by the central government to impose law and order. This incident shows that security in the country is still very unstable and is likely to continue during 2014 unless the government shows strength and manages to control militias and the smuggling of weapons and ammunition to terrorist groups. (See United States/Libya)
On the 12 Jan 14 it was reported that Libya's deputy industry minister has been shot dead during a visit to his hometown of Sirte, east of the capital Tripoli. Local media quoted officials as saying unknown gunmen "sprayed bullets" at Hassan al-Droui near a central market. It is the first assassination of a member of Libya's transitional government. Libya has suffered continuing lawlessness since the overthrow of Col Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011. The motive behind Mr al-Droui's assassination is unclear. Most killings of this kind, which are common in eastern cities like Benghazi and Derna, usually target military and police figures and are often blamed on extreme Islamists groups operating there. Mr al-Droui was a former member of the National Transitional Council, the political arm of the 2011 uprising. Libya has been struggling to assert itself over up to 1,700 different armed militias, each with their own goals, following Col Gaddafi's death.
Militias in Libya
- Numerous militias formed to topple Gaddafi still operate
- Many still control the towns or areas where they were formed
- Some believed to have links to al-Qaeda
- Government has been unable to disarm them, instead it works with some militias
- Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room, which says it seized the prime minister, has links to defence and interior ministries
- It condemned the US raid to seize al-Qaeda suspect Anas al-Liby
Mali/France – Mokhtar Belmokthar's "Mourabitounes" terror group issued a new statement threatening the interests of France and its allies in retaliation for their operations in Mali. The Mourabitounes accused France of having "made every effort to counter the Islamic authority in Azawad and warned it would "not remain idle in this situation", it was said on the 4 Jan 14. The statement reviewed the militants' activity in 2013 and mentioned numerous occasions when Western hostages were seized by El Moulethemoune and MUJAO separately before they joined forces in Aug 13. The statement goes on to say: "The taking of hostages at the Tiguentourine gas facility was in revenge for the opening-up of Algerian territory to French air forces so that they could bombard Azawad." "This statement is the first to be published by the new coalition created in Aug 13 by the merger of two jihadist movements: Laouaar's 'El Moulethemounes' and MUJAO." At the time, this organisation threatened to target French interests all over the world and called on all Islamic organisations to help each other to fight the secular forces". Through this statement, Laouaar, who is becoming increasingly communicative, wants to remind people that he is still there and that he is a force to be reckoned with." This is a media release just like the previous ones. On the 6 Dec 12, Laouaar threatened reprisals against all countries which took part in the anticipated offensive to liberate Azawad, which at that time had been occupied by jihadist organisations for several months. France is taking the threats very seriously. These groups, which are linked to al-Qaeda, are still active in the region and recently carried out several deadly attacks there. The most recent occurred in the middle of Dec 13 in Kidal, 300km north of Gao. Two Senegalese soldiers from MINUSMA were killed. In the spring of 2014, the French contingent in Mali is due to be reduced from the current 2,500 soldiers to about 1,000. Of this number, 650 will continue their operations against "terrorism" and the other 350 will be split between the European mission to train the Malian army (EUTM Mali) and the French component of the MINUSMA force.
Somalia – Credible sources confirmed to Shabelle radio that al-Shabab militants arrested some civilians who were suspected to be working with agencies which were banned from the region which is entirely controlled by the militants it was reported on the 1 Jan 14. The arrested people are estimated to be ten and are said to be working for the international Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC) society and the Red Crescent. The arrests occurred at Buale and Sako towns which are two of the major towns in the middle Juba region. However, al-Shabab previously banned some aid groups from areas in their control claiming that they work as under cover intelligence for their opponents.
Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab said on the 2 Jan 14 it carried out a twin bombing of a hotel in Mogadishu that killed 11 people, boasting it was the start of its campaign for the New Year. “This is the beginning of 2014,” al-Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage said in a New Year message, a day after the hotel attacks. “The fate of foreigners and local mercenaries will remain the same until they leave the country... they will have no safe haven in Somalia.” The Islamist rebel group al-Shabaab has carried out a campaign of attacks over the past two and a half years in Mogadishu. In a radio message on the 31 Dec 13, a senior al-Shabab commander warned civilians to stay away from government buildings as well as sites controlled or owned by foreigners. The commander, Ali Mohammed Hussein, said attacks were imminent in Mogadishu. At least 11 people were killed after three bombs exploded within an hour outside a hotel frequented by government officials in a heavily fortified district of the Somali capital on the 1 Jan 14. A booby-trapped car exploded against hotel Jazeera near a United Nations complex. It appeared to have been suicide attack. The second car bomb ripped through the blast scene as ambulances rushed in and Somali soldiers were helping the wounded. The first two bombs came in quick succession and were followed by heavy bursts of gunfire by Somali security forces. The third blast took place about an hour later when a bomb went off inside a car that was being searched by the military. The Jazeera Hotel has been the target of previous terrorist attacks. In September 2012, it was the scene of an assassination attempt on Somalia’s president on his second day in office.
South Sudan – United States Marines evacuated approximately twenty US embassy staff from the failing security situation in Juba, south Sudan on the 3 Jan 14. This will no doubt because of the fear of al-Qaeda elements using the chaos to infiltrate the country and attempt to seize US citizens. The deteriorating situation even though both sides have agreed to talks will not guarantee the security of its personnel working and living in the country.