Key developments in Africa during the week of September 2nd include the high insurgent activity in Somalia, Cameroon and Burkina Faso; the persistence of multiple fronts of violence in Nigeria; the escalation of violence in Bria in the Central African Republic; and the protests in Kenya and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Insurgents have shown their strength last week in several countries in Africa.
In Somalia, Al Shabaab militants have continued their attacks on the national army and police positions in the capital, Mogadishu. On September 2nd, they drove an explosive-laden car into the district headquarters in Hawl Wadag district, near a Quranic school. The attack left three Somali soldiers and two children killed, with over ten others injured. On September 5th, they again attacked and killed four soldiers and two civilians in the Karaan district, and on the 9th, they overran a military base in Hilawaa district. The AMISOM troops (particularly the Djiboutian and Ethiopian contingents) also came under repeated fire by Al Shabaab militants in the Lower Shabelle, Gedo and Hiiran regions last week. In Garbaharey town of Gedo region, the militants attacked the Ethiopian AMISOM base twice in one week, and populations demonstrated against the government’s support for the Ethiopian troops. Another notable development in Somalia last week is the raid by the US-backed special troops on the house of former president Aden Abdulle Osman Daar near Janalle town, Lower Shabelle region, after which the government issued an apology.
In Cameroon, suspected Ambazonian separatists targeted several academics and facilities as schools reopened for the first time in a year in the Nord-Ouest and Sud-Ouest regions, whilst the military continued to launch counter operations against them. As classes resumed on September 3rd, gunmen kidnapped a principal and seven students in Bafut near Bamenda, Mezam (Nord-Ouest). They amputated two of the principal’s fingers before releasing him and two of the students. On September 4th, separatists clashed with the security forces in Bamenda as they tried to enter the hotel where the Minister of Education was staying. The clash left at least three dead. On the same day, the state forces also launched a heavy attack against separatists in Yemngeh in Menchum (Nord-Ouest), leaving around 27 separatists killed. This is one of the highest death tolls recorded in a single battle this year in the country.
In Burkina Faso, presumed Islamist militants have been combining attacks against the defense and security forces with the destruction of government infrastructure in the Kompienga and Komandjoari areas of the Est region since late August. Last week, they attacked a gendarmerie in Gayeri and destroyed the ranger stations, prefectures and schools in Tankwarou and Bartiebougou.
In Nigeria, violence continued to span several fronts on the week of September 2nd. The government launched air and ground operations over September 3rd-7th on several Boko Haram areas between the fringes of Lake Chad and the Sambisa Forest in northern Borno state. Boko Haram militants in turn hijacked a bus in the Gwoza area, kidnapping over 21 people on board, whilst the IS-allied Boko Haram Barnawi faction launched an attack on a military base in Gudumbali, Guzamala, over September 7-8th. Meanwhile, Fulani militiamen launched several attacks on civilians in Plateau state. After one incident where the militiamen killed at least 11 civilians in Lopandet Dwei in Du district (Jos South), youth in the area attacked police officers to protest their inability to prevent the killings. A last notable development in Nigeria last week was the announcement by the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators that they would resume hostilities in the Delta, citing the failure of international oil companies to establish headquarters in the state and the President’s refusal to sign the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.
In the Central African Republic, Bria in Haute-Kotto continues to be an epicentre of the violence between ex-Seleka and Anti-Balaka militias. Violence between factions of the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) and Popular Front for the Renaissance of Central Africa (FPRC) on the one hand, and Anti-Balakas on the other have been ongoing since mid-June and started to escalate in August. Amidst clashes along the Bria-Irabanda and Bria-Bambari axes early and end August, the groups set up roadblocks to deliberately prevent the movement of goods and people in these areas. Last week, militiamen of the FPRC attacked IDPs and searched IDP camps to find members of the Anti-Balakas, leading to clashes between the two groups on September 6th a few kilometres outside of Bria town. At least nine IDPs were reportedly abducted and killed by one of the groups on the side of the fighting. The following day, over 400 protesters gathered outside of the MINUSCA base in Bria carrying the bodies of those killed, to express frustration over the force’s failure to protect civilians. MINUSCA reported two grenades being thrown at the base by the protesters, while locals alleged MINUSCA fired tear gas at them.
There was a higher activity than usual in Kenya last week, driven by multiple protests and blockades as well as by violence involving Maasai militiamen. Widespread protests took place due to the resurfacing of the unpopular fuel tax rise. The tax rise had been deferred twice since 2013 and may be deferred again. Clashes between the Maasai and Kipsigi groups also resumed in Olmekenyu, Narok county on September 6-7th. They were triggered by the killing of a herder in the Nkoben area of the Maasai Mau forest on September 4th by unknown gunmen. Clashes between the Maasai and Pisigi have regularly occurred at this time of the year since they erupted late 2016. Members of the Maasai group were involved in another incident earlier in the week, when they set fire to the Muthurwa market in Narok town following the destruction of their stalls by the local government.
Finally, there were three last key notable developments. First, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the police’s violent response to protests over the use of electronic machines during upcoming December presidential elections underlined the mounting tensions ahead of the vote. At least 23 peaceful protesters were injured, six of them severely, while another 89 were arrested in the capital Kinshasa, and in Goma, Lubumbashi, Bukavu, Mbandaka, Mbuji-Mayi and Tshikapa. Secondly, opportunities to resolve diplomatic impasses in the Horn of Africa continued to open last week, with Eritrea and Djibouti agreeing on September 7th to restore ties following a decade of tensions over the 2008 border conflict, while Ethiopia reopened its embassy in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, on the 6th. In South Sudan, in a first step toward fighting impunity in the country, the military court found 10 government soldiers guilty of involvement in the events at the Terrain Hotel in Juba in July 2016, in which five international NGO staff were raped; a South Sudanese journalist was murdered; and scores of residents beaten. The final signing ceremony of South Sudan’s revitalized peace agreement between the government and the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army/Movement-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) is expected on September 11-12th, on the heels of renewed fighting between the two factions early last week in the Kajo-Keji and Lainya areas of Central Equatoria.
10 September 2018