ACLED Regional Overview – Africa (30 July 2018)
The most notable trend in Africa on the week of July 22nd was the rise in violence involving Islamist militants across a number of countries.
In Somalia, Al Shabaab carried out multiple operations across southern regions. The group claimed responsibility for several IED and grenade explosions targeting government officials and troops in Mogadishu, Baidoa, Belet Weyne, Afgooye and Kismayo throughout the week.
On July 23rd, they simultaneously attacked the military bases of Bar-Sanguni and Baarka in Kismayo in Lower Juba. While they were forced into retreat in Nar-Sanguini after 87 of their troops were reportedly killed, they overtook the Baarka base, claiming 27 fatalities on the government’s side. The next day, they were repelled after another attack on a Somali military base in the Middle Shabelle region.
In Nigeria, Boko Haram also sustained a high pace of attacks, with ambushes on military forces in Borno and Yobe states and several higher profile incidents of violence against civilians. For example, on July 22nd Boko Haram militants reportedly killed 18 civilians in the Lake Chad region. The next day, a suicide bomber attacked a mosque at the Mainari village also in the Lake Chad area, killing a further eight people.
In Burkina Faso, Islamic State (Greater Sahara) militants opened a new front in the Est region, carrying out several attacks against police forces, forest guards and civilians in the Fada Ngourma department. Simultaneously, Ansaroul Islam militants attacked civilians in the Sahel region.
Lastly, in Egypt, the government’s military operations against State of Sinai militants in North Sinai continued. One of the militants’ local leaders, Abou Jaafar al-Maqdesi, died in clashes with the government troops in Rafah early in the week, whilst another 13 reportedly died in a shoot-out with the police in al-Arish on July 24th. For the first time, reports mentioned the presence of local communities working alongside Egyptian security forces in Operation Sinai 2018 to drive out the militants.
Elsewhere on the continent in the week of July 22nd, Ethiopia displayed continuous instability, whilst Mali remained a regional hotbed of tensions.
In Ethiopia, anti-Oromo violence persisted in various parts of the country. Although it continues to largely involve violence by the Liyu police paramilitaries in the Oromia region (lately around the Chinaksen woreda in East Harerge), an attack by Benishangale residents on Oromo civilians in Asosa, Benshangul‐Gumaz region, on July 22nd, might suggest a broader anti-Oromo trend in the country. This trend may be linked to the recent progress of the new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed (an Oromo). Religious tensions also ran high in the Oromia and Amhara regions last week: Christian and Muslim militias clashed in Goba in Bale zone over the removal of a symbolic statue in the town, while two Muslim sects clashed in Dessie in Debub Wollo over the ownership of a local mosque. Finally, the resumption of protests in Jijiga against the Somali region’s controversial governor, Abdi Illey, was met by police violence, whilst the murder of the chief engineer of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Addis Ababa sparked protests in his hometown of Gonder on July 26th.
In Mali, intercommunal violence, particularly between militiamen from the Fulani and Dozo communities in the Mopti region, showed no signs of abating. In one incident on July 25th, 17 Fulani people reportedly died when Dozo militiamen attacked the village of Somena near Djenne. Katiba Macina militants also increased their activity ahead of the country’s presidential elections on July 29th, laying several ambushes and mortar attacks against the Malian forces in the Mopti and Segou regions and attacking the convoy of the presidential candidate from the Democratic Alliance for Peace (ADP-Maliba) in the Koulikouro region. As Malians went to cast their ballots on July 29th, no major incidents were reported, apart from several low-key violence, sabotage and intimidation mostly in the center and the north resulting in the closure of dozens of polling stations.
Lastly, tensions slightly rose in the context of municipal parliamentary elections in some parts of Uganda and in the lead up to presidential elections in Zimbabwe. In Uganda, supporters of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) were stabbed and beaten by opposition supporters from the opposition JEEMA and Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) in Bugiri and Apac on July 23rd. The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) mayoral candidate in Rukiga district was also beaten by unidentified attackers on that day. In Zimbabwe, violence by supporters of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union‐Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) against their key opponents from the Movement for Democratic Change – Alliance faction (MDC) slightly increased as the July 30th elections neared, though violence between factions of the MDC was also reported on a few occasions.