Egypt – The Egyptian army said on the 23 Jan 17 that assailants killed five soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula, where security forces have been targeted in a spate of jihadist attacks. "The armed forces mourn with great sadness and sorrow the five martyrs who were martyred in Sinai at the hands of disloyal fundamentalist elements, enemies of the nation and religion," the military said. The statement did not elaborate on the cause of their deaths. Jihadists have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen since the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 unleashed a bloody crackdown on his supporters. The crackdown decimated the Islamist movement and killed hundreds of his followers, and set off a jihadist insurgency that has killed hundreds of security personnel. Most of the attacks have taken place in the Sinai Peninsula, which borders Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, but attacks have also been carried out in other areas including Cairo. And the majority of these attacks have been carried out by the jihadist Islamic State group, which views Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group as heretics.
Libya/Darfur/Sudan – Two rebel groups driven out of Darfur by a Sudanese military offensive now operate mostly in Libya and South Sudan but hope to return to fight again, a UN report said the 16 Jan 17. Sudan meanwhile is breaking out of international isolation -- the Obama administration eased its sanctions on the 13 Jan 17 -- giving the Khartoum government "more leeway to pursue a Darfur deal on its own terms," said the report by a panel of experts. The conflict in the vast desert region of Darfur -- it is roughly the size of Spain -- erupted in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against President Omar al-Bashir's Arab-dominated government, accusing it of marginalizing the region. But in a recent military offensive in Darfur's Jebel Marra area, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudanese Liberation Army led by Minni Minnawi (SLA/MM) were driven out. "JEM and SLA/MM no longer have a significant presence in Darfur as a result of the government's effective counterinsurgency strategy," said the report. "JEM now operates mostly in South Sudan, while SLA/MM operates mainly in Libya. These groups are engaged in mercenary activities and, allegedly, in criminal activities in those countries," it added. This leaves only one other group controlling some territory in Darfur: the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA/AW) led by Abdul Wahid al-Nour, who has been living in exile in France. The JEM and SLA/MM have adopted a "waiting strategy," working to rebuild their fighting forces in Libya and South Sudan until there are "new opportunities to re-engage in Darfur with strengthened military capabilities," said the report. The UN Security Council was due to discuss peace efforts in Darfur on the 20 Jan 17. Recently the council met behind closed doors to hear a report from former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who travelled to Khartoum for talks last month as the African Union's peace envoy. The council wants all rebel groups to join the Darfur peace process. At least 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in Darfur since the conflict erupted in 2003, the UN says.
Libya/Da’esh – More than 80 ISIL fighters have been killed in United States air raids on camps operated by the armed group inside Libya, according to US officials. The Pentagon said on the 19 Jan 17 that B-2 bombers and US drones had targeted overnight two camps southwest of the city of Sirte, a former bastion of ISIL in the North African country. Ash Carter, the US defence secretary, said that some of the ISIL fighters were believed to be actively planning attacks against targets in Europe, without offering any details. "We need to strike ISIL everywhere they show up," Carter said on his last day office. "And that's particularly true in view of the fact that we know some of the ISIL operatives in Libya were involved with plotting attacks." Earlier on the 19 Jan 17 Peter Cook, the Pentagon's press secretary, said the attacks were authorised by outgoing US president Barack Obama and were in conjunction with Libya's United Nations-backed government of national accord. Last month, forces aligned with Libya's internationally recognised government took full control of Sirte from ISIL, which stands for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Sirte fell after a sustained offensive starting in May 16, including US air strikes targeting tanks and other vehicles used by Da’esh.
Libya – A car bomb exploded on the 20 Jan 17 near a mosque in Libya's second city of Benghazi, wounding 12 people including a former interior minister, medical and security sources said. Ashour Shwayel, who served as interior minister in the government of former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, and his son were seriously hurt in the blast, said the spokeswoman of Al-Jala hospital, Fadia al-Barghati. A security source said the blast was caused by an explosive device placed inside a car parked near Abu Houraira mosque in the central Al-Majouri neighbourhood of the eastern coastal city.
Mali – More than 40 people have been killed after a suicide car bombing hit a military camp in the northern Malian city of Gao, according to government officials. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita declared a three-day mourning period following 18 Jan 17 attack, the worst in years. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which killed at least 47 people, including five suicide bombers, and wounded a further 115, according to army spokesman Diarran Kone. The morning explosion hit the Joint Operational Mechanism base in Gao, home to Malian soldiers and hundreds of former fighters who had signed a 2015 peace agreement with the government. Witnesses said the car bearing explosives breached the camp at around 0900 hrs local just as hundreds of fighters were gathering for a meeting. France sent troops to Mali at the request of the government there in early 2013 to prevent an advance by armed rebels on the capital Bamako. Gao - seized by armed groups in 2012 before French forces drove them out a year later - is considered the best-secured town in northern Mali with multiple UN, French and Malian army checkpoints along main roads. However, the offices of the UN peacekeeping mission located next to the airport terminal were razed by a truck-bomb explosion last month. Last year, Mali's government signed a peace deal with secular armed groups, but fighters pledging allegiance to both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group have fought on and launched dozens of attacks on Western targets in recent months. In December, a female French aid worker was kidnapped in Gao.
Morocco/Da’esh – Seven members of a dangerous criminal gang specialised in theft were arrested on the 20 Jan 17 in Morocco, said the interior ministry. The General Directorate of National Security (DGNS) coordinated with the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ) the arrest of the criminal gang, including their leader who is a supporter of Islamist State group. The criminal gang, which specialises in theft and spoliation, was active in Fez, El Jadida and Bni Drar near Oujda, according to the interior ministry. The operation allowed the arrest of the leader of the criminal group, foiling his plan to join his wife and three sons and his wife to the conflict zones of Iraq and Syria. The same source stressed that he intended to finance his trip with money from his criminal acts. Weapons and suspicious substances used in criminal activities were seized during the operation.
Nigeria/Boko Haram – A Nigerian suicide bomber used a baby strapped to her back to mingle among shoppers unnoticed inside a busy market before detonating her vest killing six people and injuring 17 it was reported on the 24 Jan 17. The attack, believed to have been carried out by Boko Haram, was carried out in the town of Madagali in the north east of the country. Local government officials confirmed they believe the suspected jihadi used the baby during the co-ordinated attack 11 days ago. Chairman of the local government Alhaji Yusuf Mohammed said it was his understanding the woman with the baby and two girls all struck the market at the same time in a coordinated attack. Nigerian army spokesman Rabe Abubakar could not confirm that a baby had been used in the attack, and said the woman may have just been disguised to appear as if she was carrying an infant. The UN children's agency (UNICEF) said it was the first such incident involving a baby reported in northeast Nigeria. Doune Porter, UNICEF spokeswoman in the region said: 'We are extremely worried about the use of a baby in this callous way.' The suicide bombings, which bore the hallmark of jihadist group Boko Haram, are common in northeast Nigeria. The Islamist group preys on displaced children or young girls it kidnaps and forces them to become bombers, with some unaware they are carrying explosives, aid agencies say. The use of children as suicide bombers by Boko Haram has surged almost five-fold since 2014, with 19 child bombings, most involving young girls, recorded by UNICEF last year. Prior to the Madagali bombings, the youngest child used in such an attack was a nine-year-old girl, the U.N. agency said. The attack in Madagali is one in a series of bombings in Nigeria northeast, mainly Borno state, in recent weeks as Boko Haram steps up attacks with the end of the rainy season facilitating movements in the bush. However, risk management consultancy Signal Risk's director Ryan Cummings said Nigeria's civilian joint task force (CJTF) had stepped up efforts to spot and search suspected bombers. "Several attempted attacks by females bombers have been thwarted (due to the CJTF), limiting casualties," he said. Army spokesman Abubakar said security forces would be extra vigilant and ready to respond to any new strategies used by Boko Haram.
Somalia/al-Shabaab – At least seven people were killed but the number would rise later after two car bombs exploded outside a popular Mogadishu hotel on the 25 Jan 17 and gunmen forced their way inside the building and opened fire, police said. The attack, claimed by the Al-Qaeda-aligned Shabaab insurgent group, began when a car loaded with explosives rammed the gate of the Dayah Hotel near the Somali parliament and state house. Gunmen then stormed the hotel and exchanged fire with security guards, according to police official Ibrahim Mohammed. A second massive blast went off after ambulances and journalists had already rushed to the scene, leaving at least four reporters injured. Two gunmen were killed and the area was under control of security forces. The Shabaab group claimed responsibility in a statement distributed on its Telegram messaging account."The mujahideen fighters have attacked a hotel and have managed to enter the hotel after detonating a car loaded with explosives," read the statement.
Somalia/al-Shabaab – Somalia's al-Shabaab group said its fighters killed dozens of Kenyan troops when they attacked a remote military base in the country's south, while Kenya's army dismissed the report and said "scores" of fighters were killed. A spokesman for the armed group, which often launches attacks on African Union troops stationed in the Horn of Africa country, said on the 27 Jan 17 that its fighters killed at least 57 Kenyans at the base in the town of Kulbiyow a day earlier. "We are pursuing the Kenyan soldiers who ran away into the woods," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabaab's military operation spokesman said about the attack near the Kenyan border. "Two mujahideen rammed suicide car bombs into the base in Kulbiyow town before storming it," he said, adding that as well as counting 57 Kenyan bodies, the group seized vehicles and weapons. Al-Shabaab said it lost fighters but did not give numbers. The group also claimed to have taken over the base, run by the African Union Mission In Somalia (AMISOM). The Kenyan army denied the claims, calling them "false". "Al-Shabaab is known for propaganda, whatever they are saying about the attack is incorrect, including the number," a Kenyan defence forces spokesman, Colonel Paul Njugunam said. "As of now, we cannot say anything about what is happening on ground, but once the operation is over, we will have concrete details and numbers. However, it was a bad day for al-Shabaab and we shall continue repulsing them." Kenyan television channel NTV reported that "several KDF [Kenya Defence Forces] soldiers were believed killed" in the raid and heavy fighting was reported.