Egypt – Gunmen in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula killed five police conscripts on the 1 Oct 16 the interior ministry said. The five conscripts were in a car in the north Sinai capital El-Arish when the gunmen sprayed them with bullets, a ministry statement said. The attack came days after assailants shot dead three policemen and their driver in the city, in an attack claimed by the ISIS group’s Egypt affiliate.
Egypt/Muslim Brotherhood – Egypt's Interior Ministry said police killed a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader and another member of the group in a shoot-out in the capital Cairo - a version of events contested by the group. A ministry statement carried by the state MENA news agency on the 4 Oct 16 said Mohamed Kamal, 61, was killed in an exchange of gunfire along with Yasser Shahata Ali Ragab as police tried to arrest them at an apartment in Bassateen neighbourhood. Sources in the Muslim Brotherhood, though said that security forces killed two of its leaders hours after detaining them. The ministry accused Kamal of running armed branches of the group. But the Arab world’s oldest Islamist organisation insists it is committed to peaceful activism. Kamal was twice sentenced in absentia to life in prison on charges of setting up an armed group and setting off an explosion near a police station, while Ragab was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in jail. The government of President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi has outlawed the group and cracked down harshly on its members since toppling Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, in 2013. Kamal was one of the most prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and a member of the Guidance Bureau. He was previously in charge of the supreme Administrative Committee, known as the youth committee.
Egypt/Da’esh – Egypt’s military launched air strikes against extremist targets in the Sinai Peninsula on the 15 Oct 16 the army said, after ISIS killed 12 soldiers at a checkpoint. The Northern Sinai is a stronghold of the Sunni extremists. An attack on the 14 Oct 16 attack saw mortar rounds and rockets fired at an army post west of el-Arish, the provincial capital of north Sinai, according to officials. The military said in a televised statement that its aircraft had taken off at dawn on the 15 Oct for a reconnaissance and bombing mission that lasted several hours and was still ongoing at the time of reporting. It said the strikes targeted hideouts of armed extremists involved in the assault on the 14 Oct, adding that a number of the extremists were killed and weapons destroyed.
Ethiopia – Ethiopia has accused "foreign enemies" of arming, training, and financing groups it blames for a wave of unrest in regions around the capital, Addis Ababa, a day after a six-month state of emergency was imposed. Government spokesman Getachew Reda told a news conference on the 10 Oct 16 that Eritrea - which has a long-running border dispute with Ethiopia - and Egypt - which is embroiled in a row with Addis Ababa over sharing Nile water - as sources of backing for "armed gangs". "There are countries which are directly involved in arming, financing and training these elements," said Reda. Reda said, however, it could be elements who do not have formal government support acting rather than "state actors". Egypt last week denied providing any support for Ethiopian protestors. Ethiopia's government is facing the biggest challenge of its 25 years in power, with anti-government protests spreading, foreign-owned companies targeted, and a harsh security crackdown that has killed hundreds so far while failing to quell the unrest. "The kind of threats we are facing, the kind of attacks that are now targeting civilians, targeting civilian infrastructures, targeting investment cannot be handled through ordinary law enforcement procedures," Reda said. Protesters from the majority Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups say they are marginalised by the minority Tigrayan-led government, which they accuse of monopolising power and controlling the economy. "The internet in Ethiopia has been blocked for at least the past week and the few people on the ground that we spoke to said the state of emergency is nothing more than to suppress the protests," It was reported from Mombasa, in neighbouring Kenya. "[They] are concerned by the possibly heavy hand security forces will use." Reda alleged Egypt had trained and financed the rebel Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). "We know for a fact that the terrorist group OLF has been receiving all kinds of support from Egypt," said Reda. "Its leaders used to be in Asmara [Eritrea] - now they are in Cairo." He said "elements in the Egyptian political establishment" were fomenting rebellion, and seeking to promote "historical rights" over access to the River Nile. On the 9 Oct 16 Ethiopia declared a state of emergency following months of violent anti-government protests, especially in the restive Oromia region. "A state of emergency has been declared because the situation posed a threat against the people of the country," Ethiopain Prime Minister Hailemarmiam Desalegn said on state television. Local media said emergency law, declared for the first time in 25 years, would last for six months. Protests reignited last week in the Oromia region - the main focus of a recent wave of demonstrations - after dozens of people were killed in a stampede on the 2 Oct 16. The deadly crush was sparked by police firing tear gas and warning shots at a huge crowd of protesters attending a religious festival. The official death toll given by the government was 55, though opposition activists and rights groups said more than 100 people died as they fled security forces, falling into ditches that dotted the area. Mulatu Gemechu, of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress said on the 10 Oct that an informal state of emergency has been in place in Ethiopia for some time, during which people have been arbitrarily arrested and killed. "Declaring a state of emergency at this time in Ethiopia is aimed at legitimizing the killings that we have seen in the Oromia region recently," Mulatu said. "It won't solve the public's problems and will only worsen it. What people are looking for is a radical change. The people now want the setting up of a transitional or caretaker government." At least 500 people have been killed by security forces since anti-government protests began in Nov 15 New York-based Human Rights Watch said in Aug 16. The government says such figures are inflated and has denied that violence from the security forces is systemic. In Aug 16 it rejected a United Nations request to send in observers, saying it alone was responsible for the security of its citizens. Demonstrations started among the Oromo, Ethiopia's biggest ethnic group, and later spread to the Amhara, the second-most populous one. Though they initially began over land rights, protests later broadened into calls for more political, economic and cultural rights. Both groups highlight the fact that the ruling coalition and security forces are dominated by the Tigray ethnic group, which makes up only about six percent of the population.
Kenya/al-Shabaab – At least six people have been killed in an attack on a residential building in northeast Kenya by suspected fighters from the Somalia-based group al-Shabaab, authorities have said on the 6 Oct 16. Security official Mohamud Ali Saleh said the assailants used explosives in order to infiltrate the gated building in Mandera County, situated less than a kilometre away from the Somalia border town of Beled Hawa. "We highly suspect the attackers are members of the Shabaab insurgent group, who have sneaked across the porous border," he said. "These criminal gangs are desperate to hurt innocent Kenyans since they were defeated badly and routed out of all their hideouts in the neighbouring country." There was no immediate comment from al-Shabaab. The Mandera region on the Somali border has often been targeted by al-Shabaab, which says it will continue a campaign of violence in Kenya until the government there withdraws its troops from Somalia where they are part of an African Union force. A reporter reporting from Kenya's capital Nairobi, said that after hurling an explosive device to gain access to the residential complex, called Public Works, the assailants opened fired indiscriminately. They were then forced out of the building by police forces, she said, adding that when officers tried to get inside the complex to retrieve the bodies an explosion went off. An analyst also noted that recently there have been more attacks on government installations, police stations, and security forces, including an attack claimed by al-Shabaab in Jun 16 that killed six police officers. The government issued a terror alert in Mar 16, saying that parts of Mandera, particularly along the border are prone to attacks. They said that al-Shabab have infiltrated some of those areas.
Libya/Da’esh – US military aircraft pounded ISIS positions in the extremists’ former Libyan stronghold of Sirte over the weekend of the 1/2 Oct 16, as the US air campaign entered its third month, the Pentagon said the 3 Oct 16. According to the US military’s Africa Command, US pilots conducted 20 air strikes on the 2 Oct 16 alone, most of them against “enemy fighting positions.” When the Pentagon announced its latest front in the war against the ISIS on the 1 Aug 16 officials said the campaign to help local forces push the extremists from the coastal city of Sirte would likely be quick, taking “weeks, not months.” The military action followed a request by the UN-supported Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), and President Barack Obama’s administration has stressed that ongoing US involvement would be framed by the interim Libyan government’s needs. Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the timeline for the US air campaign continues to be dictated by the GNA. “Every one of the strikes we do is based on a request from them, and we are down now into the last, densest part of the city,” Davis said. “As they get to the dense areas, it’s very hard to take out these sniper positions with anything other than air strikes.” The Tripoli-based GNA launched an operation in May 16 to retake Sirte, the hometown of slain dictator Muammar Qaddafi that the extremists have controlled since June 2015. Since the US air operation began on the 1 Aug 16 US aircraft, drones and helicopters have conducted more than 200 strikes. Many of the strikes are being conducted from the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship off the Libyan coast in the Mediterranean. The fall of Sirte, 450 kilometres (280 miles) east of Tripoli, would represent a significant blow to ISIS, which has also faced a series of setbacks in Syria and Iraq. 361 COMMENT: It is important to keep the pressure on Da’esh in Libya as Iraq/Syria area of Da’esh shrinks. Hopefully the actions of the GNA and the US will stop fighters regrouping there. COMMENT ENDS
Libya/Da’esh – At least 14 pro-government fighters were killed on the 14 Oct 16 in clashes with ISIS in the extremists’ former Libya bastion of Sirte, a medical source said. “Fighting today began at 0900 hrs (0700 hrs GMT) and the toll to now is 13 dead and 25-30 injured,” hospital official Abdellatif Abdel Ali said. Ali said the majority of those killed were shot in the head by sniper fire. Forces allied with Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) have cornered ISIS fighters in Sirte, 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of Tripoli, since launching an offensive on the 12 May 16. After a pause in fighting on the 13 Oct 16 pro-GNA fighters resumed the battle against ISIS holdouts in a seaside residential district of Sirte. At least three US air strikes hit ISIS positions on the 14 Oct 16 an journalist in the city said. A pro-government forces commander said that ISIS snipers were slowing the anti-extremist advance. “These gunmen are well trained and equipped. They haven’t given in even with air raids and the siege we’ve imposed on them,” Al-Hedi Issa said. “So we prefer to advance slowly in order to preserve the lives of our fighters.” The fighting has left more than 550 GNA fighters dead and 3,000 injured. The ISIS death toll is not known.
Morocco/Da’esh – Morocco has dismantled a suspected ISIS militant cell and arrested 10 women believed to be planning attacks in the North African kingdom, the Interior Ministry said on the 3 Oct 16. It was the latest in a series of militant cells Morocco says it has broken up, but it is the first time authorities have arrested a group of female suspects. An Interior Ministry statement said the cell was operating in several regions including the cities of Kenitra and Tangier. It said the cell members reflected an ISIS effort to integrate female militants for attacks in the kingdom and they were inspired by the brother of one of them who was involved in bombings in Iraq earlier this year. Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ), the judicial arm of the domestic intelligence service, seized chemicals and bomb-making materials in one of the suspects’ houses, the statement said. The BCIJ has actively tracked alleged militants since ISIS seized large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014-2015. Hundreds of fighters from Morocco and other Maghreb states - Tunisia and Algeria - have joined Islamist militant forces in Syria’s civil war. Some are threatening to return and create new jihadist wings in their home countries, security experts say. Nearby Libya has become a major draw for jihadists from North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa as ISIS has taken advantage of widespread chaos there to build a base, operate training camps and take over the city of Sirte. The Moroccan government believes 1,500 Moroccan nationals are fighting with militant factions in Syria and Iraq. About 220 have returned home and been jailed, while 286 have been killed in battle. Morocco, an ally in the Western campaign against Islamist militancy, has suffered attacks itself in the past, most recently in 2011 in Marrakesh when an explosion tore through a cafe and killed 15 people, mostly foreigners.
Niger – At least 22 soldiers have been killed in Niger after unknown assailants attacked security forces guarding a camp for Malian refugees, according to Prime Minister Brigi Rafini. The attack on the 6 Oct 16 targeted a camp in the village of Tassalit in Niger's Tahoua region, around 525km northeast of the capital, Niamey. "We received information of an attack on the camp in Tassalit. For the moment we are told there are 22 dead, but that is not a total death toll," Rafini said in comments broadcast on state-run television TeleSahel. "The death toll could increase." The prime minister gave no further information concerning the identities of the attackers, or whether any civilians had been killed or wounded. The camp's residents are Malians who fled to neighbouring Niger after armed groups, some with links to al-Qaeda, seized Mali's desert north in 2012. A French-led military intervention has largely driven back the fighters, but violent attacks have continued across the region's Sahel band. Niger's army is currently battling Boko Haram fighters who launch raids across its southern border from Nigeria while seeking to prevent an overflow of attacks from Mali.