Sahel Security Report - July 2020

Published on 30 Jul, 2020.


The instability in the Sahel has remained unchanged in the last 4 weeks. Burkina Faso and Niger continue to experience militant attacks targeted at security forces and civilians. Tensions in Mali has increased as the political crisis in the country escalated in the last month alongside the insecurity caused by jihadist operations in the region.


Amidst the ongoing violence in the north and east security forces and volunteer fighters continue assistance to jihadist groups operating in the region. Members of the Fulani and Bellah ethnic group in the Oudalan province in the Sahel region were attacked by security forces and volunteer forces in the last few weeks. The violence continued in the North, East and Boucle du Mouhoun regions. In the Boucle du Mouhoun region, there were clashes between JNIM militants and local militia groups (from the Dozo and Dogon communities). In the eastern region, 2 soldiers were killed following an attack on a military detachment in Tankoualou; Komondjari Province. Attacks on local government officials were also targeted by militants in the region this month. On 18th July, the municipal coordinator of Fada N’Gourma was killed in a jihadist attack on the Fada-Tanwalgougou; Gourma province. A week before, the convoy of the President of the Superior Council of Communication was the target of an IED attack in Boudieri; Tapoa Province. In fighting between ISWAP and JNIM remains moderate as tensions between these groups are still high particularly in the eastern region.

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Mali continues to experience instability as the political crisis escalated in the last 4 weeks. Ten of thousand Malians have been involved in the June 5 movement anti-government protests in the capital Bamako and other cities demanding the resignation of President Ibrahim Bobacour Keita. Protesters have cited the worsening insecurity, the failure to secure the release of opposition leader Soumiala Cisse, controversial electoral results, etc as the reasons for the protests. A proposal by the ECOWAS delegation was rejected by the opposition that argued the proposal addressed the interest of the government rather than the interest of the people of Mali. A subsequent proposal was submitted by a delegation of West African Head of States to mediate a solution for the crisis. The proposal provides that unity government—made up of both members of the government and the opposition is formed. The proposal also suggested 31MPs who had their electoral results contested resign and a by-election organized to fill these seats. The opposition is yet to comment on the proposal. Also, the leader of the movement Mohammed Dicko has been silent over the past 3 weeks as some analyst believe he might be in some negotiations with the government. Protests have been temporarily put on hold for the Eid-ul-Adha celebrations but is expected to resume on August 3rd. The insecurity in Mali has also been increased by the ongoing insurgency in the Mopti, Gao and Kidal regions. On July 1st, at least 27 people were from the Dogon farming communities—Gouari, Djindo, and Fangadougou were killed following a gun attack by militants in the Mopti region. 24 hours later, 7 soldiers were killed in the Bankass Cercle in the Mopti region. On July 14th, 12 people were again killed after a Dogon village was attacked in Mopti region. A French soldier has also died following clashes with jihadists in Gossi; Tombouctou region—northern Mali on 23rd July. Mali's socio-political climate currently is in a complicated and volatile state. All operating in the area are advised to take extreme caution.

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Jihadist attacks continued in west and south-east as the country still battles with C-19 pandemic. Incidents have mostly been concentrated in Tillaberi region to the West and Diffa region in the east with most by fighters tied to either ISWAP or Boko Haram. An attack by suspected Boko Haram militants on July 1st in the village of Ngaroua-Gana; Gueskérou Commune (Diffa region) resulted in the 5 casualties. In the south-west, ten aid workers that had been abducted on 24th June were released earlier this month—1st July. The aid workers were found in a remote area of the Tillabéri region near the border with Burkina Faso. The situation at the Intikane refugee camp in the Tahoua region remains uncertain after suspected militants attacked it last month.

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