Egypt/Sinai/Da’esh – Three people were injured in clashes between militants and local tribes in the Sinai Peninsula in a fight that began when militants shot at a truck smuggling cigarettes, Egyptian security officials said on the 17 Apr 17. The officials said that ISIS group militants launched RPG attacks on the 16 Apr 17 in their stronghold around the city of Rafah in response to the kidnapping of three ISIS fighters by local tribes. The unrest started when militants shot at a truck smuggling cigarettes into the area, where the ISIS imposes a strict version of Islamic law that prohibits the sale of tobacco, tribal sources said. The incident marks an escalation in tension between the two sides over the imposition of Islamic Law in northern Sinai. Last month, female teachers commuting from the region’s urban centre, El-Arish, to Rafah reported being stopped by militants twice in one week and were asked not to take the road without a male relative in compliance with Islamic law. Locals said the militants had previously intercepted trucks carrying cigarettes and punished passengers with flogging. Northern Sinai residents have been caught in a violent battle between militant groups who have expanded their activity in the Peninsula. Militants have beheaded locals accused of collaboration with authorities and recently stepped up their attacks against the peninsula’s Coptic Christian minority, forcing hundreds to flee following a string of killings in the city of Arish in Feb 17.
Egypt/Da’esh – A policeman was killed and three others wounded on the 18 Apr 17 when gunmen opened fire on a checkpoint near St Catherine's monastery in Egypt's Sinai, the interior ministry said, in an attack claimed by Islamic State jihadists. "A number of gunmen facing one of the checkpoints on the road to St Catherine's in south Sinai shot at security forces at the checkpoint," the interior ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page. Security forces returned fire, wounding some of the attackers and "forcing them to flee", it said. Khalid Abu Hashem, the health ministry official for South Sinai province, earlier told state television that one person had been killed and four wounded. IS claimed responsibility for the attack shortly after. "The attack that took place near St. Catherine Monastery in south Sinai was carried out by Islamic State fighters," the group's Amaq propaganda agency said on social media accounts, citing a "security source". St Catherine's monastery, a Christian site which lies some 500 kilometres (300 miles) southeast of Cairo in the south of the Sinai Peninsula, attracts thousands of visitors a year.
Egypt/Da’esh – The Egyptian military said on the 20 Apr 17 it killed a senior Islamic State group cleric and 18 jihadists in air strikes in the Sinai Peninsula where the extremists are waging an insurgency. The announcement came after the jihadists claimed a series of attacks, including a shooting near a monastery this week and twin church bombings on the 9 Apr 17 that killed dozens. Among the jihadists killed was "one of the prominent leaders of the so-called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the head of the religious affairs committee in the group," the military said, without saying when the strikes occurred. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis was the name used by the jihadists in the Sinai before they pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in Nov 14. On Wednesday, the interior ministry said security forces killed a gunman suspected of killing a policeman and wounding three others near St Catherine's monastery in south Sinai the day before.
Mali/France – France says it has killed about 20 suspected fighters in a forest near Mali's border with Burkina Faso. French Mirage fighter jets bombed several suspected arms depots in the Foulsare Forest, southwest of the northern Malian city of Gao, late on the 29 Apr 17, a French counterterrorism unit said in a statement on Sunday. Troops from Operation Barkhane, whose mission is to target fighters operating in the Sahel region of the Sahara Desert, said they also discovered large amounts of arms, ammunition, rocket launchers and explosives. It however, did not identify the groups that were targeted. A French soldier was killed last month in the region, considered a sanctuary of armed groups fighting the central government based in the capital, Bamako. Set up in 2014, Operation Barkhane comprises around 4,000 soldiers who are deployed across five former French colonies - Mali, Chad, Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. In Niger, it operates four Mirage 2000 fighter jets and five Reaper drones for gathering intelligence. France intervened in its former West African colony in January 2013 to stop a southward offensive by fighters linked to al-Qaeda who seized control of vast expanses of the north. Despite continued French troop deployments, a UN peacekeeping mission and years of peace talks, Mali remains beset by unrest and ethnic strife.
Morocco/Algeria/Da’esh – Around 100 members of the Algeria-backed Polisario Front have joined the ranks of the Islamic State group (IS) in Libya and the Sahel region, head of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ) Abdelhak Khiame, told France24 on the 16 Apr 17. Khiame said that not only will affect will it affect Morocco and Algeria, but also the whole region. “The fight against these terrorist groups requires strengthening regional cooperation," calling on the Algerian authorities to strengthen their cooperation with Morocco in the fight against terrorism. “Intelligence cooperation with the Mauritanian neighbour has always been fruitful. There is no obstacle to the exchange of information. In the case of Algeria, I am taking responsibility to the Algerian administration.” He highlighted the expertise of his department in the fight against terrorism which has been recognized worldwide. “The kingdom’s security policy is based on preventive strikes which make it possible to dismantle terrorist cells before they act,” he said. Khiame revealed that 1,623 Moroccans had joined conflicts in Syria and Iraq, 400 of whom killed there while 78 were arrested on their return to Morocco. Referring to Morocco’s cooperation with its Western allies, Khiam cited the example of the Franco-Moroccan intelligence collaboration which had made it possible, in particular, to locate and control Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian national of Moroccan descent who allegedly was the mastermind of the Nov 15 terror attacks in Paris. “Morocco has always warned its Western allies whenever it has relevant information, whether in the Netherlands, Italy, France, Spain or Belgium," he said.
Nigeria/Boko Haram – A suicide car bomber has attacked a military convoy in northeast Nigeria, killing five soldiers and injuring another 40, security forces have said. Two military officers said on the 28 Apr 17 that the attacker, believed to be loyal to factional Boko Haram leader Abu Mus'ab Al-Barnawi, targeted the convoy, which was conducting "clearance operations" between Yobe and Borno states. "At about 1000 hrs GMT on the 27 Apr 17 a suicide bomber believed to be a Boko Haram terrorist riding in a van loaded with explosives rammed into a military convoy at Manguzum village," one said. "We lost five soldiers in the incident and more than 40 sustained various degrees of injuries," added the officer. In a separate development, at least 15 gunmen believed to be Boko Haram fighters were shot dead during a battle with soldiers. Kinsley Samuel, Nigeria's military spokesman, said that the fighting occurred in the Sambisa forest in the country's north. There has been a spate of deadly attacks on military targets in recent months, as troops fight to end the eight-year insurgency. A multinational force of troops from Nigeria and its neighbours last year drove Boko Haram out of towns and villages in northeast Nigeria, but isolated attacks and suicide bombings continue. In Dec 16 President Muhammadu Buhari said the capture of a key camp marked the "final crushing" of Boko Haram in its last enclave in Sambisa Forest, once the group's stronghold. But since then, the group, which split into two factions last year, has stepped up its attacks. One Boko Haram faction is led by Abubakar Shekau from the Sambisa Forest. Abu Mus'ab Al-Barnawi leads the other faction, based in the Lake Chad region, which has pledged allegiance to Da’esh.
Somalia/al-Shabaab – Al-Shabaab claims deadly attack with improvised explosive device on a military pickup truck, 40km south of Bosasso. A military vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region on the 23 Apr 17 killing at least six soldiers and wounding another eight. The al-Qaeda linked group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, which happened on the outskirts of the region's port city of Bosasso. Mohamed Ibrahim, a major in Puntland's military, said the vehicle, a pickup truck, was from Galgala hills, about 40km southwest of Bosasso. "Our military pickup hit a roadside bomb today, six soldiers died, eight others were injured," Ibrahim said, adding two of the wounded were in a serious condition. Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab's military operations spokesman, said the group carried out the bombing. "We are behind the attack," he said.
Tunisia – A senior commander in an armed group blew himself up and another was shot dead during a raid by Tunisian security forces on the 30 Apr 17. The men - suspected of having links with Da’esh and al-Qaeda's North Africa branch (AQIM) - were planning attacks during the holy month of Ramadan, according to a spokesman for Tunisia's National Guard. The raid took place in Sidi Bouzid, a town 200km southwest of the capital, Tunis. Another three people were arrested and security forces were hunting for other suspects. The group had been under surveillance for weeks after communications about a possible attack were intercepted, National Guard spokesman Colonel-Major Khelifa Chibani said. "National Guard special forces killed two terrorists," he said. "They had been in the Sammama mountains and planned attacks during Ramadan." One was a commander with the ISIL and AQIM-linked group Okba Ibn Nafaa, he said. The commander "was hit and blew himself up", according to Chibani. The other man killed was also wearing an explosives belt, but was shot dead before he could detonate it. Chibani did not give any details on the site of the alleged attack, but Tunisia has been on alert since gunmen hit the Sousse beach resort in 2015, killing more than 30 foreigners and badly damaging the vital tourist industry. Da’esh has claimed most of the major attacks in Tunisia. Authorities say more than 3,000 Tunisians have left over the past few years to fight for ISIL and other armed groups in Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Tunisian authorities are trying to prepare for potential security threats upon their return. Tunisia been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when a suicide bombing in Tunis claimed by ISIL killed 12 presidential guards.
Uganda/Central African Republic (CAR)/Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – Uganda has ended its pursuit of internationally known warlord Joseph Kony, Military officials said the mission "has now been successfully achieved" even though the rebel leader remains at large. The decision means the manhunt for one of the world's most notorious fugitives is effectively over. Uganda has started pulling its forces from Central African Republic, which for years had been the base for troops chasing the rebels, military spokesman Brig Richard Karemire said. The news comes shortly after the United States made the decision last month to pull out of the manhunt for Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, saying the active membership of his Lord's Resistance Army is now less than 100. The US departure left only Uganda in the manhunt. At the peak of its powers, the rebel group was known worldwide for its cruelty against civilians in Uganda, Congo, Central African Republic and what is now South Sudan. In 2012, the US-based advocacy group Invisible Children made a highly successful video highlighting the LRA's alleged crimes, including the abduction of children for use as sex slaves or fighters. Kony, a former Catholic altar boy whose rebel movement aspired to rule Uganda according to the biblical 10 Commandments, is wanted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity. One of his former commanders, Dominic Ongwen, is currently on trial at The Hague-based court. Although the military mission's ultimate goal was to capture or kill Kony, there has been no word on his exact whereabouts for years even as many of his top commanders defected or were killed. About 1,500 Ugandan troops had been deployed in Central African Republic under an African Union military mission to defeat the LRA. All of the Ugandan troops will return home by the end of May, with the first arriving home on the 19 Apr 17 military spokesman Brig Karemire said. Uganda's mission to neutralise the LRA "has now been successfully achieved", he said. Amid concerns about the military pull-outs, the African Union last month suggested that United Nations peacekeeping missions in the region be used to continue anti-LRA efforts. Kony "will likely ramp up attacks if Uganda fully backs off", said Sasha Lezhnev of The Enough Project, which monitors LRA activities. "Uganda should join (the UN peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic) with international support to continue pursuing the LRA and save thousands of lives." The US first deployed about 100 Special Forces as military advisers to the manhunt in 2011, and in 2014 it sent 150 Air Force special operations members and airmen to assist African forces. The US Africa Command late last month cited the weakening of the LRA for its decision to remove its military forces, though it was not clear when the withdrawal would take effect. Marine Gen Thomas Waldhauser declared the hunt for Kony largely over, calling the rebel leader "irrelevant" and in survival mode. At the time, Uganda's military said its troops would not immediately pull out of the mission against the rebel group, with Brig Karemire insisting that Kony will be a cause for concern as long as he is still alive.