A bomb struck a bus carrying Egyptian policemen on the 24 Aug 15 killing two and wounding 24 in the latest attack against security forces who are being targeted by ISIS. The attack occurred in the Nile Delta province of Baheira, 260 kilometres north of Cairo, while the policemen were travelling to work in a civilian bus. Two policemen were killed and 24 others were wounded, including two seriously.
Egypt has announced on the 30 Aug 15 that parliamentary elections will take place in two stages in October and November 2015. Ayman Abbas, head of Egypt's Supreme Election Committee, said on the 29 Aug that half the governorates will vote on October 18 and 19. A second stage of voting will take place for the remaining governorates on November 22 and 23. Voters outside Egypt will cast ballots in a first stage on October 17 and 18, and a second stage on November 21 and 22. The first phase of voting was due to begin in March, but the election was delayed after a court ruled part of an election law unconstitutional. Egypt has been without a parliament since June 2012, when a court dissolved the democratically elected main chamber, reversing an accomplishment of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. In its absence, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, who was elected in presidential elections in May last year, holds legislative authority. In just over a year of his tenure, he has passed dozens of laws by decree. As army chief, Sisi led the 2013 ousting of Egypt's first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi.
Kenya – Garissa residents are in shock after another cache of weapons were found in a house on the night of the 26 Aug 15. The weapons suspected to belong to al Shabaab fighters were recovered just metres from Garissa University College. Al Shabaab massacred 148 people there, mostly students, on the 2 Apr 15. The cache was found in Soko Ng'ombe on the outskirts of Garissa town. It was the second haul in Garissa in four days. Boniface Mwaniki, a boda boda operator at Soko Ng'ombe, said the weapons would have been used in attacks. "I can't believe al Shabaab militants and their sympathisers are living in our midst and ready to inflict more harm on innocent Kenyans at the slightest opportunity," he said. The haul included seven rocket-propelled grenades, 3 AK47 rifles, 227 rounds of ammunition, hand grenades, five IED timers, four magazines and mobile phones. North regional coordinator Mohamud Saleh said the breakthrough in finding the arms follows the arrest of al Shabaab suspects who told them about the caches. He said a rocket-propelled grenade can bring down a three-storey building or the Tana River Bridge, the only exit and entry to Garissa and the North-eastern region. On the 23 Aug 15, police arrested six al Shabaab fighters with two pistols, seven grenades, 20 rounds of ammunition and 15 magazines in Garissa Ndogo trading centre. Saleh ordered all landlords and commercial buildings owners to give detailed information on their tenants to their chiefs in 14 days. "We believe some of these criminals are occupying or are being harboured in some private premises," he added. Saleh said the government is collaborating with Somalia to find criminals/terrorists along the border. He said plans are underway to create strategic border entry points. There, government agencies such as the Kenya Bureau of Standards, the Kenya Revenue Authority and security agencies will scrutinise all travellers.
Mali – Imam Elhadji Sekou Ba was one of the few people in his village of Barkerou who dared to speak out against the rise of Islamist militants in central Mali, denouncing in his sermons the young men taking up arms in the name of religion. It was reported he was shot on the 19 Aug 15 at his home. Locals suspect the killing was carried out by the Massina Liberation Front (MLF), a new group blamed for a wave of attacks that is shifting Mali's three-year-old Islamist conflict from the remote desert north ever closer to its populous south. The emergence of the new group, recruiting among central Mali's marginalised Fulani ethnic minority, has sown panic among residents, forced some officials to flee, and undermined the efforts of a 10,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission to stabilise the West African state. Inspired by veteran jihadist Amadou Koufa, a radical preacher from the central Malian town of Mopti, the MLF has introduced a volatile new ethnic element to the Islamist conflict in a nation riddled with tribal tensions. Security experts fear that the rise of a jihadist group among the Fulani — whose 20 million members are spread across West and Central Africa — could regionalise the violence. "The risk is that links develop between Fulanis throughout the region and it could be the next major regional conflict," said Aurelien Tobie, a conflict adviser formerly based in the Malian capital Bamako. "Everywhere Fulanis are marginalised, they have a strong identity and there are connections between them." The assassination was the latest in a wave of killings in the Mopti region targeting those opposed to Mali's array of Islamist groups. Many of the militants come from the ranks of jihadist fighters that seized the northern two-thirds of Mali in 2012 alongside Tuareg rebels. The MLF is believed to be closely allied with Malian Islamist rebel group Ansar Dine, whose leader Iyad Ag Ghali fought alongside Koufa during the northern occupation. Ansar Dine also has a group of fighters called the Massina brigade — a reference to the 19th century Fulani empire of Massina — and has claimed a series of attacks against UN peacekeepers and Malian army targets in Bamako and the border areas near Ivory Coast and Mauritania. Andrew Lebovich, visiting fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations, says Mopti is an appealing area for radical groups' expansion because of its historical importance as a centre for Islamic governance. Koufa's speeches evoke the jihad led by Fulanis against the rival Bambara ethnic group to create the vast Massina Empire which spread across Mali, Senegal and Nigeria. Its capital Hamdallaye, near present day Mopti, now lies in ruins. Residents say there are few outwards signs of support for Koufa, whose whereabouts are unknown, although one local said cassettes of his sermons sell well in the market. Dufka says support for radical groups has been stirred by the army's summary executions army of Fulanis accused of being jihadists. A UN human rights report documented signs of dried blood on the side of wells in Sevare in 2013. Mali never investigated the killings. Mali's former defence minister, Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, said the army was struggling to contain the rapid emergence of the militants. The government needed to improve intelligence gathering in the region and check on mosques. Aba Ibrahim Ba, a Fulani mayor from the commune where the imam was assasinated, said the government had done little to respond to the recent assassinations and the local population was in panic. He said he had been forced into hiding. "Besides reaching people by word of mouth, I cannot do anything else to stop this as it would be too risky," he said. Reprisals seen to be targeting the Fulani community could play into the hands of extremists. Guillaume Ngefa, director of human rights in the UN mission MINUSMA, said at least 50 people had been arrested with alleged ties to MLF since Dec 14. This prompted complaints from a Fulani organisation that they were being targeted indiscriminately, he added. Alghabass Ag Intalla, a senior member of the Tuareg-led rebel coalition Coordination of Azawad Movements and a former leader of Ansar Dine, said there was reason to fear the radicalisation of some Fulanis. "We see Fulanis as very marginalised in Mali, even from their own leaders," he said. "They are forming a rebellion."
Nigeria – Boko Haram is trying to expand its activities beyond Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, to include the commercial capital Lagos, as well as other parts of the country, officials said on the 31 Aug 15. Nigeria's intelligence agency said 12 members of the Islamist militant group have been arrested in Lagos since Jul 15. Authorities arrested other self-confessed Boko Haram members in the south-eastern city of Enugu as well as other parts of central and northern Nigeria, the Department of State Services (DSS) said in a statement. The DSS attributes the attempted expansion of Boko Haram into southern areas to the increased pressure the group is under in its north-eastern heartland. However, reports state that the group is still causing havoc in the north-east, with reports that more than 50 people were killed in an attack in Borno State on the 28 Aug 15 about 100km (62 miles) north of the state capital Maiduguri.
Tunisia – A policeman has died after being shot in the Tunisian coastal city where 30 Britons were killed in June it was reported on the 20 Aug 15. Two men on a motorcycle opened fire on three policemen in Sousse using a rifle. One of the officers died while being taken to hospital, and while earlier reports suggested the other two policemen were injured this was not the case, the Tunisian interior ministry said. In June Seifeddine Rezgui shot dead 38 holidaymakers, 30 of whom were British, in the popular holiday resort. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for that shooting rampage. Police in Tunisia have made hundreds of arrests since the beach killings, in an effort to combat the threat from terrorists.
A Tunisian border guard was killed on the 23 Aug 15 in a fire fight with jihadists on the border with Algeria, state television and the president of a union of border guards said. A border guard was killed and three others were wounded in a shootout with a terrorist group in Bouchebka. The killing comes days after a Tunisian policeman was shot dead by two assailants on a motorbike in the coastal resort of Sousse. Authorities have been unable to say whether that killing was carried out by jihadists and an investigation is ongoing.