Libya/Da’esh – Two US air strikes killed several ISIS militants in Libya earlier this week, the US military said on the 28 Sep 17 the second series of strikes in the country in recent days. In a statement, US Africa Command said the strike took place 161 km southeast of Sirte on the 26 Sep 17 in coordination with Libya’s Government of National Accord. A senior Libyan prosecutor said that ISIS militants in Libya set up a desert army composed of at least three brigades after they lost their stronghold of Sirte last year. Hundreds of militants are believed to have escaped from Sirte before or during the seven-month campaign to oust the jihadist group from the coastal city, which it took control of in 2015. Sheltering in desert camps, fugitive militants have become emboldened in recent weeks, occasionally setting up checkpoints on roads to the south and east of Sirte and claiming two deadly attacks against local forces. Other than the latest strike US forces conducted three sets of air strikes targeting the camps - one in January, one on Sept. 22, and one on the 26 Sep 17. After the first strikes some wounded militants had been arrested and some “materials” seized, Sadiq Al-Sour, head of investigations for the Attorney General’s office, said at a news conference in Tripoli. Investigators learned that ISIS had established a “desert army” led by Libyan militant al-Mahdi Salem Dangou, also known as Abu Barakat, Sour said. The force includes three brigades operating under Dangou, each with its own commander. “This army was established after the liberation of the city of Sirte... Now they are in the Libyan desert,” said Sour. Separately, Sour said authorities had arrested a senior ISIS commander who supervised the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt in Sirte in Feb 15. “He gave details on the incident and indicated their place of burial,” Sour said. “We are seeking with military authorities in the central region to discover where the bodies are, and hopefully we will find them, despite the time that has passed.” Sour said that in the past, ISIS had used established routes to bring foreign fighters into Libya from neighbouring countries including Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria. The largest number of fighters had been brought in from Sudan and transited through the Libyan city of Ajdabiya, about 350 km (218 miles) east of Sirte, he said.
Mali – At least three United Nations soldiers have been killed and five others seriously wounded by an explosive device that detonated as they were escorting a convoy in Mali, according to the West African nations peacekeeping mission. The convoy was travelling between the towns of Anefis and Gao in Mali's volatile north when the explosion occurred at around 0700 hrs GMT on the 24 Sep 17 a statement from the mission, MINUSMA, said, adding that the death toll was provisional. The UN did not immediately release the nationalities of the soldiers. Despite a 2013 French-led military intervention that drove back armed groups - some with links to al-Qaeda - who seized control of Mali's desert north a year earlier, the area remains plagued by violence. Last month, gunmen attacked the peacekeeping force's headquarters in the northern city of Timbuktu killing at least seven people and injuring seven others. On the 8 Jun 17 at least three UN peacekeepers from Guinea were killed in an assault near their base in Kidal. The Group to Support Islam and Muslims, a fusion of three armed groups with previous al-Qaeda links that is also known as Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimeen in Arabic, claimed that attack. The violence has also prompted five West African countries, known as G5 Sahel, to launch a new multinational force to fight armed groups in the Sahel region. The new regional anti-terror force is set to include as many as 5,000 soldiers, with one battalion each from Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.
Nigeria/Boko Haram – At least 15 people were killed on the 18 Sep 17 when two female suicide bombers attacked an aid distribution point in north-eastern Nigeria. A rescue worker said the first blast happened at 1110 hrs local time (1010 hrs GMT) in Mashalari village of the Konduga area, about 40km from Borno state capital Maiduguri. "[It] killed 15 people and left 43 others injured," a witness said. "It happened during aid distribution by an NGO, when people had gathered to receive donations." "Twelve minutes later, another bomber struck, but luckily only she died," the witness said. The rescue worker said both bombers were women but did not specify which NGO was distributing aid. Babakura Kolo, from the Civilian Joint Task Force, a militia assisting the military with security, confirmed the rescue worker's account. Bello Dambatta, head of rescue operations for Borno state's Emergency Management Agency, said women were the majority of those killed in the morning attack and the death toll was likely to rise. No immediate claim of responsibility came for the attack, but the Boko Haram armed group has carried out similar bombings in the past in the region. On the 16 Sep 17 at least 28 people were killed and more than 80 wounded when three female suicide bombers detonated their explosives outside a camp for displaced people in Konduga. This month, Boko Haram fighters fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a camp for internally displaced persons near the border with Cameroon, killing seven.
Somalia/al-Shabaab – Al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia attacked a military base outside the capital Mogadishu with car bombs and gunfire on the 29 Sep 17 killing at least eight soldiers before looting the outpost. "There was heavy fighting," said Mohamed Haji Ali, a Somali military commander, confirming the attack to local media without providing details of casualties. Residents said the attack left bodies of government soldiers scattered on the ground while al-Shabaab fighters looted the base, stealing vehicles and weapons. "There were dead bodies around the military camp and I counted about eight of them from the Somali military, but it could be more than that," said Abdulahi Muktar. Another resident described hearing two large blasts followed by heavy gunfire. "This attack was very sophisticated with the militants raiding the base from three directions. There were two huge blasts presumably suicide bombs," said Mohamed Malim. Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, claimed responsibility for the brazen assault. "After morning prayer today, two mujahideen rammed into Barire military base with suicide car bombs. We killed 17 soldiers and took seven technical vehicles," he said, referring to pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns. "The other soldiers ran helter skelter into the woods. We now control the base and the village," said Musab. Barire is 50km southwest of Mogadishu. On the 28 Sep 17 a car bomb blast near a popular market in Mogadishu killed at least seven people.