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ACLED Regional Overview – Africa (26 January – 1 February 2020)

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During the last week across Africa, armed clashes and attacks fell, while demonstrations levels remained high across the continent driven by ongoing movements in Northern and Western Africa. Despite falling levels of violence, large numbers of civilian displacements and civilian fatalities were reported in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, respectively. Meanwhile, militants remained heavily active in the Sahel region, inflicting severe losses against Malian forces, while overwhelmingly targeting civilians in neighbouring Burkina Faso.

Following a recent lull of violence in Libya, increases in armed clashes, shelling and airstrikes were all recorded during the week. The escalating violence came in spite of an apparent ceasefire, amid United Nation reports of continued violations of an international weapons embargo (New York Times, 27 January 2020). There was a noticeable escalation in violence surrounding the Government of National Accord (GNA)-held Misrata, with clashes continuing in the Sirte and Tripoli regions.

Meanwhile, demonstration activity in Northern Africa was underpinned by the 50th week of the anti-government Hirak protest movement in Algeria. Although demonstrations continue to attract thousands, reports suggest that attendance levels have fallen, in a possible sign of waning momentum (Reuters, 30 January 2020). In Sudan, large protests were held across major cities against a lingering military presence in government. Demonstrators called for the appointment of civilian governors to replace military governors installed during the final months of the Omar al Bashir regime.

Violent confrontations continued between demonstrators and state forces in Guinea, amid nationwide demonstrations against proposed constitutional changes that would allow President Alpha Condé to seek a third term in office. Several demonstrators were killed in the capital Conakry after state forces allegedly opened fire.

In Mali, state forces suffered a significant loss in the Ségou region. Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) militants launched the successful attack against a gendarmerie base in Sokolo, killing at least 20 gendarmes. The militants returned three days later and retook control of the town. In the Mopti region, suspected Katiba Macina militants carried out several attacks on Dogon villages, killing several civilians and clashing with Dan Na Ambassagou militiamen.

In Burkina Faso, JNIM, Katiba Macina and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants launched attacks on civilian targets in the Centre-North, North, East, Sahel and Boucle du Mouhoun regions. In the deadliest attacks, suspected ISGS militants killed dozens of civilians in the villages of Silgadji and Lamdamaol, both in the Sahel region.

In Cameroon, incidents of violence dropped despite Ambazonian separatists continuing their campaign to disrupt the upcoming legislative elections in the Anglophone regions. Separatists abducted a former senator and Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement (CPDM) candidate, also burning down a radio station belonging to another CPDM candidate. Meanwhile, a number of fatalities were reported in clashes with the Cameroonian military, including an Ambazonian commander. The military continued their recent campaign of raids on civilian populations in the Anglophone regions, burning houses and killing several civilians. Military attacks on civilians were reported in Menchum, Donga-Mantung and Ngo-ketunjia departments in the Northwest.

Boko Haram suffered heavy losses during attacks in Nigeria and Chad. In an attack on a Chadian army position on Choua island in the Lac region, 21 militants were reportedly killed. In another attack on a military base in Nigeria’s Borno state, Nigerian forces also managed to repel the militants, reportedly inflicting heavy casualties. In spite of these losses, Boko Haram/ISWAP managed deadly operations on both military and civilian targets in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

In the Central African Republic, fighting between the Popular Front for the Renaissance of the Central African Republic (FPRC) and the Movement of Central African Liberators for Justice (MLCJ) shifted from the Birao area to Bria. Dozens of fatalities were reported in the fighting, with 11,000 people registered as displaced following the violence.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), large numbers of civilian fatalities were reported during two days of Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacks in the Beni region of North Kivu. The ADF has continued to regularly stage attacks on civilian populations in the area, despite DRC military forces (FARDC) announcing a campaign against the ADF on October 30 (VOA, 12 January 2020).

Finally, Mozambique’s ongoing Cabo Delgado insurgency has moved southwards, with militants carrying out a series of attacks on civilian targets in Quissanga district. In one such attack on the administrative town of Bilibiza, militants damaged core infrastructure, including local offices, a health centre, an agricultural institute and a teacher training college. The attacks in Quissanga, which began the previous week, are the latest sign of the insurgency’s increasing operational abilities.