Sahel Security Report - March 2020

Published on 31 Mar, 2020.


Armed conflicts continue to compromise security in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Foreign military presence increases with Swedish Special forces deployment. French forces received 40 tonnes of supplies for operation. Counter terrorism efforts continue as MINIMUSA forces helps rescue two hostages—Italian and Canadian kidnapped in Burkina Faso in 2018. In the background of the COVID-19 outbreak the main opposition leader in Mali has been abducted which could distort legislative elections scheduled in April.


21 violent incidents were recorded. Attacks were most prevalent in the northeast and eastern regions. Attacks and stigmatization of Fulani’s continue to increase with armed attack in villages of Dinguila and Barga, Yatenga Province killing 43 civilians. Such attacks highlight the trend of tit for tat clashes between farming communities and Fulani herders making the region increasingly ungovernable. Tackling insecurity has now the increased complexity as the COVID-19 (170+ cases) stats to take its toll on an already stretched administration.

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Insecurity in Mali continues with JNIM and ISGS assailants being active in Mopti and Gao regions. 60% of attacks by jihadist were located in these areas. On 19th March, JNIM jihadists killed 29 soldiers after attacking a military base in Tarkint Gao region. Assailants also stole many vehicles and weapons from the base. Analysis tends to suggest this attack was a statement by JNIM following its demand for the full withdrawal of French forces before negotiations with the government could commence. Two hostages were recused in northwest Mali by MINUMSA peacekeepers after being abducted in Burkina Faso two years ago. Mali’s main opposition leader Soumaila Cisse and 6 members of his campaign teams have been abducted in Niafunke, central Mali while on a campaign trip. It is unclear which group is responsible for his kidnapping, however, the event could greatly affect elections next month.

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Niger continues to face ISWAP in the south-east and JNIM assailants in the west. Attacks are co ncentrated in Tillaberi and Dosso regions in the south-west and Diffa region in the east. The most significant incident was the Operation Barkane airstrike on March 4th in Tangademi that killing 25 individuals. Government and security forces are to remain alert as major attacks such as ones in Chad and Nigeria is likely in the future.

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