Terror front: Africa

Multiple countries fighting militants

Rescuers and security agents searching for victims after a bomb exploded at a local government building in the Nigerian the city of Zaria, in Kaduna state, on Tuesday. At least 25 people were killed, the state governor said. That same day, a suicide
Rescuers and security agents searching for victims after a bomb exploded at a local government building in the Nigerian the city of Zaria, in Kaduna state, on Tuesday. At least 25 people were killed, the state governor said. That same day, a suicide bomber killed herself and four others at a military checkpoint in Borno state.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

More than 200 killed in Nigeria in the past week; other African states also witness upsurge in attacks

NAIROBI • Africa is increasingly turning into the new front line in the battle against terrorism with multiple countries now fighting Muslim militants.

Bombings have killed at least 31 people across northern Nigerian cities since late Monday, the latest attacks in a rising tide of violence since President Muhammadu Buhari took office five weeks ago.

A bomb targeting a local government building exploded in the city of Zaria, leaving at least 25 people dead, Kaduna state governor Nasir El-Rufai said on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, a suicide bomber killed herself and four others at a military checkpoint in Borno state.

Tuesday's bombings came a day after a teenage suicide bomber detonated explosives at a mosque in Kano, just as Muslims broke their Ramadan fast. The explosion probably went off prematurely because only the female attacker died, a police spokesman said.

ATTACK ON PASSENGER BUSES

They used grenades and heavy guns. The bus was sprayed with bullets but it is a miracle nobody was hurt.

AN EYEWITNESS, on Tuesday's attack in the Lamu region near the Somali border

WORKERS KILLED

The area... is a plot where quarry workers live. They attacked at around 1am. Most of those killed are workers from up-country.

MR ALEX NKOYO, commissioner for Mandera County, on the attack in Mandera

And about 40 people were killed in two suicide bombings in the city of Jos on Sunday, the first incidents there since February.

Last week, bomb and gun raids claimed more than 200 lives, the deadliest period since Mr Buhari was sworn in on May 29, after a campaign that promised to crush the six-year Islamist insurgency.

On Tuesday, Boko Haram fighters crossed into Cameroon where a clash with security forces left three militants dead, according to the Cameroon government.

In Mali, north-west of Nigeria, the French army confirmed on Tuesday that its special forces based there had killed a prominent commander with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Mohamed Ali Ag Wadossene, during an operation in the northern region of Kidal.

Armed men also attacked and briefly controlled Fakola, a town in Mali's southern region of Sikasso, close to the border with Ivory Coast, on June 28. Ivory Coast has reinforced security along its northern frontier following recent attacks just across the border in Mali.

On the other side of the continent, heavily armed militants on Tuesday attacked a group of passenger buses and their army escorts in the Lamu region of Kenya near the border with Somalia - a region where almost 100 were killed last year in a series of terrorist attacks.

"They used grenades and heavy guns. The bus was sprayed with bullets but it is a miracle nobody was hurt," an eyewitness said.

Al-Shabab claimed it attacked a military convoy, but an army spokesman denied it was a convoy.

Only a few hours earlier on Tuesday, Al-Shabab militants killed at least 14 workers overnight in the north-eastern town of Mandera, an area that has seen frequent Al- Shabab attacks. The militant group said it had targeted Christians.

"The area... is a plot where quarry workers live. They attacked at around 1am. Most of those killed are workers from up-country," Mr Alex Nkoyo, commissioner for Mandera County, said.

Kenya's north-eastern border with Somalia is widely considered a security weak spot. Al-Shabab aims to topple Somalia's Western- backed government to impose its own version of Islamic law.

Several other African countries have also witnessed an upsurge in militant activity.

Eight days after a June 26 gun attack at the Mediterranean resort of Port El Kantaoui, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi on Saturday decreed a 30-day state of emergency. A Tunisian student killed 38 tourists before he was shot dead, the attack claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

And Egypt has put the death toll after simultaneous assaults last Wednesday on military checkpoints, around the North Sinai towns of Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah, at more than 100 insurgents and 17 soldiers. ISIS's Egypt affiliate, Sinai Province, claimed responsibility.

Rafah straddles the border between Egypt and Gaza and had long seen smuggling to the Hamas-controlled enclave. An Israeli intelligence colonel said on Tuesday that Hamas, short of weaponry after its war against Israel last year, supported the Sinai assaults with the "objective of opening up a conduit" for renewed smuggling.

Though they share hostility to Israel, Hamas and ISIS have been at odds within Gaza, because ISIS claims Hamas is insufficiently stringent about religious rule.

And in a key position surrounded by countries under attack is Libya - chaotic since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, with rival governments and a growing extremist presence that includes training camps for militants.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2015, with the headline 'Multiple countries fighting militants'. Print Edition | Subscribe