Sahel Islamist insurgency

  1. Soldiers killed in Ivory Coast ambush

    Ivorian soldiers drive on the back of a vehicle outside the International Academy for Combating Terrorism (AILCT) in Jacqueville in Ivory Coast on June 10, 2021.
    Image caption: The attack comes two days after a new counter-terrorism academy was inaugurated in Abidjan

    Three security personnel have been killed in an ambush on a military patrol in northern Ivory Coast, near the border with Burkina Faso, the army has said.

    Two soldiers and a police officer died when their vehicle hit an explosive device, security sources say.

    Four others were wounded in the attack, which was the second in the region in a week.

    On Monday an Ivorian soldier was killed in an attack by gunmen on the town of Tougbo.

    Islamist militants have been waging an insurgency in Burkina Faso and Mali for many years and security officials fear an expansion of their operations further south to countries such as the Ivory Coast.

    The attack on Saturday evening comes two days after a counter-terrorism academy was inaugurated in Abidjan to help tackle the jihadist threat in the region.

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  2. UN aid appeal for thousands displaced by Burkina Faso attack

    BBC World Service

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    The United Nations' refugee agency says thousands of villagers in Burkina Faso urgently need water, sanitation, shelter and medical care having fled their homes after Saturday's massacre by Islamist militants.

    A UNHCR spokesman praised the generosity of people in other villages in welcoming and sharing what little they had with more than 3,300 who fled Solhan.

    He said the agency was working with the Burkinabè government to build shelters and help the displaced - but more resources were needed.

    Up to 160 people were killed in the attack on Solhan - the UN says nearly 40 are seriously injured and in hospital.

    The UNHCR says it's received only a quarter of the money it needs for its aid response to the current violence in the central Sahel.

  3. Video content

    Video caption: What's next for Chad after the army led by Mahamat Déby Itno took over?

    What role, in the Sahel region, does Chad have since the killing of President Idriss Deby?

  4. Mozambique: Palma attack 'a game changer' for region

    Video content

    Video caption: Government says dozens killed as militants attack a town near major gas project

    The Mozambique government says dozens were killed when militants attacked a town near a major gas project.

  5. UN names Mauritanian to head Mali peace mission

    l-Ghassim Wane raises his hand while reciting the oath of office in 2016
    Image caption: El-Ghassim Wane will be UN's special envoy to Mali

    The UN has named Mauritanian diplomat El-Ghassim Wane as its special representative and head of the peace-keeping mission in Mali.

    Mr Wane has 25 years of experience in conflict prevention, mediation and peacekeeping, the world body announced on Monday.

    He is taking over from former Chadian Foreign Minister Mahamat Saleh Annadif.

    The Mauritanian served as assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations at the UN between 2016 and 2017 and later worked at the African Union (AU) up to 2019.

    In recent months, he led a team conducting an independent strategic review of the UN-led peacekeeping operation in South Sudan.

  6. Chad to deploy troops to tackle jihadists on borders

    A French soldier in the Sahel region
    Image caption: France has 5,100 troops in the Sahel region

    Chad's President Idriss Déby has said he will deploy soldiers to the border with Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso as G5 Sahel countries meet to discuss security in the region.

    Chad has in the past said it would deploy soldiers in the "three border zone" but did not.

    The Sahel region heads of state are meeting in Chad's capital, N'Djamena, and French President Emmanuel Macron will join the meeting via video link.

    President Déby has called for more international support to the Sahel countries in their fight against extremists.

    He said poverty in the region had made it easier for young people to be recruited by extremists and said development funds would help alleviate it.

    France has 5,100 troops in the Sahel region which has been a frontline in the war against Islamist militancy for almost a decade.

    Militants from the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), which is linked to al-Qaeda, have been carrying out attacks.

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  7. Burkina Faso 'open to talks' with Islamist militants

    Lalla Sy

    BBC News

    Islamist militants
    Image caption: Other Sahel countries agree but former colonial power France is opposed

    Burkina Faso's government said on Thursday that it was open to holding talks with Islamist militants, a position embraced by its neighbours in the Sahel region where terrorist attacks are recurrent.

    The activities of jihadists have grown in the region despite military operations to contain them.

    France - which has more than 5,000 military personnel in the region as part of a long-running operation intended to stop the insurgency - is opposed to talks with the jihadists.

    But Burkinabè Prime Minister Christophe Dabiré told parliament that the government will not exclude talks with Islamists militants to secure peace in the country.

    He said that to end the security crisis it was important to address those responsible for the terrorist attacks.

    Burkina Faso's neighbours Mali and Niger have previously indicated willingness to negotiate with the insurgents.

    Former Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, while in power, said that his government was preparing to negotiate with a local al-Qaeda affiliate. He was overthrown in a coup last year before any progress was made.

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  8. Mali and French troops kill 100 jihadists in offensive

    BBC World Service

    A Malian soldier is seen during a patrol in the town of Djenne in central Mali on February 28, 2020.
    Image caption: Malian and French troops have a long-running operation to stop jihadists

    The army in Mali says it has killed 100 jihadists in a joint offensive with French forces.

    In a statement, Mali's military said another 20 Islamist insurgents were captured in the operation, which ran throughout January.

    Militants control large parts of the Sahel desert region.

    Since an Islamist insurgency erupted in northern Mali in 2012 the violence there has spread to neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.

    France has more than 5,000 military personnel in the region as part of a long-running operation intended to stop violence by Islamist militants.

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  9. Two million forced from homes in Sahel violence - UN

    Women sit outside their shelter, in camp for internally displaced people in Barsalogho, in Burkina Faso -  January 2020 -
    Image caption: Barsalogho, a small town in Burkina Faso, is hosting thousands of people who have fled their homes

    The UN refugee agency says more than two million people have been displaced within their own countries by what it called the unrelenting violence in the Sahel region in Africa.

    The UNHCR said this was the highest number ever, and warned that the communities hosting the refugees in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger were at breaking point.

    The four countries are among the least developed in the world.

    The Sahel region is plagued by intercommunal violence and a series of conflicts involving Islamist groups.

    The UNHCR said the situation was made worse by food insecurity, climate change, and the coronavirus pandemic.

  10. France to 'adjust' military strength in Sahel region

    Lalla Sy

    BBC News

    French President Emmanuel Macron (C) visits the troops of France's Barkhane counter-terrorism operation in Africa's Sahel region
    Image caption: About 50 French soldiers have died fighting in the Sahel region

    French President Emmanuel Macron says France could "adjust" its operations in Africa's Sahel region following successes against jihadist groups.

    Mr Macron said the arrival of special forces from other European countries would allow France to make changes.

    He made no reference to a time frame on the proposed changes, but a decision is expected to be taken at a forthcoming summit of France and G5 Sahel countries to be held in February in Chad's capital, N'Djamena.

    The French president assured that efforts to maintain stability and victory against the jihadists will be maintained.

    More than 5,000 French troops have been serving as part of Operation Barkhane in support of the forces of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.

    However they face a growing insurgency by jihadist groups, which have significantly stepped up their attacks in the Sahel countries since last year.

    France is relying heavily on the deployment of a joint force of European troops, Takuba, whose objective is to accompany the Malian army in combat.

    With the presidential election scheduled for 2022, impatience is growing in France as the operation in the Sahel is perceived as long and costly. It has cost the lives of 50 French soldiers so far.

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