Africa Regional Security Update

Africa Regional Security Update.

Ladd Sewart, Susanna Deetlefs, and Ariane Dinalli Francisco

"Weekly reports on the latest conflict developments in Mozambique and Ethiopia are made available by the Cabo Ligado and Ethiopia Peace Observatory projects, respectively.

Last week in Africa, violent events were highest in Somalia; disorder decreased to the lowest level in the Democratic Republic of Congo since August 2018; and Cameroonian authorities rejected a Swiss government offer for mediation in the Ambazonian separatist conflict amid continued attacks on civilians and schools.

In Burkina Faso, violence shifted to Boucle du Mouhoun and it became the region with the highest number of violent events, showing a consistent move of Al Qaeda-affiliated Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) to this area in recent weeks. Violence in Boucle du Mouhoun is both common and highly volatile; it is considered an area of ‘extreme risk’ by ACLED’s Volatility and Risk Predictability Index. Militants looted civilian and state properties and attacked two police stations in Nayala and Kossi provinces. Military forces attempted to push JNIM back by conducting air raids in the Banwa province. Despite JNIM being the most active actor territorially and in terms of the number of events, the group inflicted fewer fatalities overall than the Islamic State Sahel (IS Sahel). IS Sahel attacks remained concentrated in the Sahel region, fighting with a military detachment in Deou village and ambushing soldiers in the Oudalan province. The military forces responded with a wave of airstrikes in the Oudalan province, which resulted in several militant and civilian fatalities.

In Mali, levels of violence remained highest in the Mopti region due to the continued JNIM offensive and operations by the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) and allied Wagner Group mercenaries. The military forces and the Wagner Group were the deadliest actors, conducting air-to-ground operations against JNIM in Bandiagara and Mopti circles. In a particularly fatal attack in the Douentza circle, the Wagner Group summarily executed over a dozen Tuareg Bellah civilians in retaliation for a JNIM IED attack that killed two fighters (Twitter @IsmaelAnmar, 15 September 2022).

In Nigeria, Islamist militants and military forces remained the principal sources of political violence. The number of violent events in Borno state was the highest compared to other states, as the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) confronted military forces. The Nigerian military operation Hadin Kai against Islamist militants included airstrikes against several ISWAP positions in the Marte and Kukawa Local Government Areas (LGAs), resulting in over 30 fatalities. ISWAP and Boko Haram (JAS) also continued to engage in clashes over control of areas in Dikwa and Bama LGAs, killing numerous militants (Twitter @ZagazOlaMakama, 16 September 2022; Zagazola, 15 September 2022). Elsewhere, militia-related events doubled in Niger state, and military forces conducted clearance operations in Chikun, Giwa, and Igabi LGAs of Kaduna state.

In Cameroon, levels of violence remained high in the anglophone North-West and South-West regions, as Ambazonian separatist armed groups continued to attack civilians and confront military forces to prevent school activities (VOA, 15 September 2022). The Cameroonian government rejected the Swiss government’s offer for third-party mediation to resolve the separatist conflict and opted to continue military operations (Mimi Mefo, 15 September 2022).

In Somalia, organized political violence continued to increase and reached the highest number of weekly events ever recorded in the country. Security forces, often supported by government-backed local militias, launched intense offensives against Al Shabaab strongholds and hideouts in several regions, concentrated in Hiraan, Galgaduud, and Bay. The clashes led to over 100 Al Shabbab militants killed and the recovery of several villages and strategic areas previously under the group’s control (VOA, 13 September 2022). Despite government territorial gains, attacks by Al Shabaab concentrated in Hiraan, Lower Juba, and Lower Shabelle left many fatalities among security forces and civilians. This violence contributed to the 41% increase in weekly violent events in Somalia in the past month relative to the weekly average for the preceding year, as flagged by ACLED’s Conflict Change Map.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, events drastically decreased across the country, particularly in the eastern provinces where violence has been historically concentrated. In Ituri, political violence was the lowest since December 2019, with similar decreases in North Kivu. In North Kivu, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) ambushed a World Food Program vehicle, setting on fire 13 tons of food items the organization was transporting to internally displaced persons (, 14 September 2022). Despite the general decrease in political violence, the conflict between Teke and Yaka groups continued to escalate. During a particularly violent event in Kwamouth territory, Mai-Ndombe province, scores of people died, resulting in the most deadly event since these clashes started in June.

In Sudan, Hamar and Misseriya groups clashed in Abu Zabad locality, West Kordofan state, killing and injuring dozens, following disputed claims over territorial demarcation and the decision by the Sovereignty Council to freeze a board demarcation between the localities of Al-Nuhud and Al-Sunut (Sudan Tribune, 12 September 2022). In neighboring South Sudan, the Aguelek faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) attacked SPLM-IO loyalist forces in Canal/Pigi county, Jonglei state. The event follows clashes between splinter factions of the breakaway Kitgweng faction of the SPLM-IO, as well demands over leadership positions and the fulfillment of goals set out with the 2018 peace agreement (Sudan Post, 13 September 2022)."