Amid the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic, a surge in terrorist activities in Africa has come to light, particularly in parts of Sahel region, which is posing a grave threat to peace and security in the country. The UN has noted that the terror activities are specifically concentrated to a border zone between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, while some terrorist groups affiliated to ISIS and Al-Qaeda are operating throughout the Sahel region from Mauritania to the Lake Chad Basin. UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres has warned of terrorist groups exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to intensify their actions in various parts of Africa. Taking advantage of the pandemic outbreak, the Boko Haram group is working on expanding its influence and recruit members.
While on one side Africa is grappling with hunger, malnutrition, and lack of medical resources to tackle the COVID-19 disease, on the other side, an increase in terrorism activities is making the country the new epicenter of extremism. Experts are arguing that if the nationwide lockdown prolongs in the country, terrorist groups will be able to cause more destruction in the regions and enroll more underprivileged than anticipated.
Several regions such as Nigeria have been put on high alert in the wake of the warning issued by security experts over a surge in terror attacks. On March 24, Boko Haram reportedly launched its deadliest attack on the security forces, killing more than 100 troops, in the African country of Chad. In another attack, Boko Haram killed over 50 Nigerian soldiers during an ambush in eastern Borno.
Security forces from all over the countries have amped up their protection in militants-concentrated areas. With air forces of more than a dozen countries guarding Sahel, it has become of the most militarily active regions in the world. However, as per media reports, a mammoth presence of foreign security troops has not been able to effectively combat the actions of the militant groups in Africa. Due to border closures, operations of troops of the G5-Sahel force, who have been working on maintaining security across Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, have been disrupted.
According to media reports, ISIS and Al-Qaeda are coordinating their actions to influence and persuade the African people. However, as a report released by ISIS on May 7, it has blamed Al-Qaeda’s Sahel affiliate, Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), for launching large forces and initiating clash in African countries of Mali and Burkina Faso. Both ISIS and Al-Qaeda groups have expanded their terror activities in Mali and surrounding regions since last year.
Earlier in March, the UN Security Council condemned terrorism activities in African countries and urged for increased international support in their battle against terrorism and violent extremism, particularly in parts of the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin region and the Horn of Africa.
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