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ACLED Regional Overview – Africa (22-28 May 2021)

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Last week in Africa, outbreaks of intercommunal violence left dozens of people dead in Sudan and South Sudan; armed groups carried out mass killings in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo; and Islamic State militants launched a series of deadly attacks on civilians in the Central Sahel, as the Malian military staged another coup.

In Mali, the army detained the president and prime minister, as well as other senior officials in the interim government, following a government reshuffle in which two military leaders were sacked from their posts (Reuters, May 26, 2021). The Malian Constitutional Court later declared the coup leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, as the country’s new interim president (CNN, May 29, 2021). The latest coup came less than a year after Colonel Goita led another military coup to overthrow former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020. Meanwhile, deadly clashes were reported between presumed Katiba Macina fighters and Malian security forces and Donso militiamen in the central regions of Mopti and Segou. Elsewhere, suspected Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) Greater Sahara militants launched multiple attacks on civilians in the Gao region, as well as the Sahel region in Burkina Faso and Tillaberi in Niger. A deadly attack by presumed ISWAP Greater Sahara fighters in the village of Bangou Koirey in Tillaberi left several civilians dead. Fatalities were also reported in clashes between suspected ISWAP Lake Chad faction militants and state forces in the town of Diffa.

In Nigeria, heightened levels of violence were reported in the northwest states of Katsina, Kaduna and Sokoto, as well as the north central state of Benue. In Benue state, suspected Fulani militias killed more than 100 people during multiple attacks on communities in Katsina Ala local government area. Meanwhile, fighting between Nigerian military forces and the ISWAP Lake Chad faction continued in Yobe state.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militants continued to launch deadly attacks on civilians in North Kivu, despite ongoing military operations, as part of the ongoing state of siege. Sustained attacks by ADF in the Ruwenzori sector resulted in over 40 civilian fatalities. Meanwhile, Congolese military forces (FARDC) clashed against the coalition of Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo (APCLS) and Nyatura Abazungu in Masisi, reportedly killing one of the leaders of the APCLS (Radio Okapi, 26 May 2021).

In Burundi, simultaneous grenade attacks involving an unidentified armed group were reported in Bujumbura and Muramvya, targeting busy civilian areas, including bus stations. While the death toll remained under 10, reported injuries reached 80 in the Bujumbura attacks alone. The attacks coincided with the 51st United Nations Standing Advisory Committee meeting on security in Central Africa, which began on Tuesday in Bujumbura and ended on Friday (Arib, 26 May 2021). Meanwhile, bodies were recovered in Chiboke province following clashes in Rwanda between the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the Rwandan military.

Intercommunal tensions flared in Sudan this week, with violent clashes breaking out between militias from the Amar’ar clan of the Beja and the Almada section of the Beni Amir in Port Sudan. Meanwhile, violence continued along the borderlands with Ethiopia. Sudanese military forces clashed with Ethiopian soldiers and militiamen in the Basundah area of Gedaref state.

Security continued to deteriorate in much of South Sudan. Fighting took place between clans in Upper Nile and Lakes states, killing over 50 and wounding others. In Warrap state, Bul Nuer raiders clashed with local youths and attacked civilians in Gogrial East county, resulting in at least 15 fatalities. Reports also emerged implicating South Sudanese military forces in attacks on civilians in Central Equatoria state, leading to displacement from the area (NAS, 28 May 2021).

In Somalia, government security forces retook control of several villages in the Middle Shabelle region after operations forcing the retreat of Al Shabaab militants. An armed clash in Gal-labashiir village left more than a dozen militants dead. Despite their losses, Al Shabaab continued to stage explosive attacks in the Banadir and Middle Shabelle regions. Three soldiers were injured by an improvised explosive on the road between Jowhar and Raga Ceel village, during an apparent assassination attempt on government security forces commander, Brigadier General Odowaa Yusuf Rageh. Elsewhere, more than 20 Islamic State militants were killed, including a senior leader, during a Puntland security forces operation in the Bari region.

Finally, pro-Palestinian demonstrations in response to violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories continued across multiple countries. Demonstrations were reported in Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia, Mozambique and Mauritania.

A separate, weekly discussion of the ongoing conflict in Mozambique and Ethiopia can be found in the Cabo Ligado and Ethiopia Peace Observatory projects, respectively.