Published on 30 Sep, 2020.
The instability in the Sahel remained unchanged in the last 4 weeks as attacks were reported in Burkina Faso and Mali. More than 130 incidents and 191 fatalities were reported in the Sahel—Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger in the last month. Jihadist groups continued attacks on civilians and military installations across the region particularly in Northern Mali and the northeast region of Burkina Faso. The political crisis in Mali has however deescalated, as progress was made following the appointment of a transitional President and Prime Minister. Intra jihadist tensions remain high following months of clashes between ISGS and JNIM fighters. Scrutiny of security forces in the region continued following a probe that alleged extra-judicial killings and human right abuses by Nigerien officers on IWSAP fighters. The next month proves crucial in the region as general elections in scheduled in the Cote d’ Ivoire (3 weeks) while the transitional government in Mali is set to get the country socio-economic growth back on track following months of political unrest.
Security in Burkina Faso remains dire as both jihadist and security forces operations continue across the region. Security forces intensified operations against jihadists in the region. On 7th September security forces reported it had dismantled a terrorist base in the Sanmantenga Province—Centre Nord region and recovered a number of explosives that were stored at the base. On 23rd September a military detachment in Diapaga killed 40 terrorists in an operation Tapoa—Eastern Region. Another update was provided by the military on an operation carried out by security forces that neutralised more than 20 terrorists in Soum and Lourom. Attacks on military and gendarmes detachment remained high in both the Nord and Sahel regions. Notably was an attack in the Soum Province where a military patrol returning from Djibo was ambushed by armed men. 4 soldiers were killed in the attack with 1 soldier severely wounded. A gendarme brigade was subjected to an armed attack in the Comoe Province—Cascade region on 21st September where officers were wounded and properties were destroyed. In the Nord region, a woman and her 2 children were killed following an explosion of an IED around the Titao locality—Loum Province. No group claimed responsibility for the attack. The targeting of local leaders continued as the chief of Pellin—a village in the Kossi Province was kidnapped after the village was attacked by unidentified armed men on 17th September. Restoring some level of stability in the conflicted affected areas is vital in the next 4-12 weeks as the country prepares to for legislative and presidential elections in November and whether a safe, free and fair elections can be conducted in the parts of the country.
The political crisis in Mali continues to deescalate given the progress made by the military regime in the last 4 weeks. To influence the removal of ECOWAS sanctions, the military junta—the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) announced an 18-month transition before a return to civilian rule. Transition talks have not been smooth as the coalition opposition group—Movement of June 5 voiced its displeasure of being sidelined in the transition talks, protests that resulted in clashes with the police in Bamako. Adhering to the demands of ECOWAS, the military regime announced the appointment of a transitional president and prime minister. Bah Ndaw and Moctar Ouane are both civilians and are expected to lead Mali for the next 18 months until a new president is elected. Leader of the CNSP, Colonel Assimi Goita will serve as Vice President in the transitional government. The appointment of both leaders is expected to result in ECOWAS lifting of sanctions placed on Mali since August 18th, an effort the regional body has failed to carry out. Reasons for failing to remove sanctions are unknown but some reports have suggested the regional bloc may still be dissatisfied with the inclusion of Col. Goita in the transitional government. Despite the delay, sanctions are expected to be lifted in 2- 4weeks if the situation remains unchanged.
The insecurity outside the capital remains high as jihadi groups continued violent targets against civilians and security forces. Following the coup in August 18th attacks on security forces increases suggesting armed groups taking advantage of the political crisis (distraction) in the capital. In the last 4 weeks, more than 7 attacks have been targeted towards security forces in Mali killing at least 30 soldiers. On 4th September, unknown armed men ambushed a military establishment in Guiire—Koulikoro region killing at least 10 soldiers. 24hours later, 2 French soldiers were killed in an IED explosion in Tessalit Cercle—Kidal region. On 29th September, a group of men suspected to be JNIM fighters killed 2 FaMA soldiers and injured 7 others following an ambush in the Mopti region. Mali’s opposition leader remains custody of armed groups as efforts made to secure his rescue remains unsuccessful. Also, there are several uncertainties as to his role in the political environment following his release. Attacks are expected to increase in the short to mid-term as there is still a deficit with the ongoing political wangling.
Jihadist continues to target civilian population in the region particularly the Tillaberi region to the west. In the Diffa region to the east, intra-jihadist violence continued following clashes between JNIM and ISWAP factions. The humanitarian crisis also escalated in the last 4 weeks following floods in the capital Niamey. The breaching of a dyke in Lambore has resulted in heavy floods in the area and the destruction of several homes in Nogare and Saga. Residents in Bana Bana, Karadje, Kirkissoye, and Saguia were also affected. Due to the insecurity and extremist activities in the recent months, local authorities have extended the state of in border regions until late November. During this time military operations continue against Boko Haram and ISWAP cell groups operating in the area as well as neighbouring towns in Nigeria and Chad.
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