West Africa / Sahel Update

“The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali, also known as MINUSMA, faces unprecedented challenges. Now in its sixth year, it is caught in the middle of an unfolding spiral of violence that is moving closer to the capital and that has already been spreading to neighbouring countries.”

“Armed groups such as ISIL and al-Qaeda are gaining strength in Mali. New armed groups have entered the fray, some taking advantage of longstanding pastoral and inter-communal tensions, causing deadly violence to escalate between the Fulani and Dogon communities.”

"The Sahel is becoming an open military arsenal. There are more than 60 million weapons circulating in the Sahel.”

Source: UN envoy in Mali: Sahel crisis could spread to Europe

This is evidenced by recent news that a dozen or so jihadists from Mali and Burkina Faso were arrested last month in Abidjan, the capitol of Ivory Coast. The Ivorian services, in close collaboration with the French services and especially the Directorate General of External Security (DGSE) have thwarted several planned attacks of jihadists including one on the Novotel in Abidjan.

Source: Jihadists from Mali and Burkina Faso arrested in Abidjan

The Month of May had been dangerous for the Faithful in the West African Nation of Burkina Faso. Twice that month alone there have been attacks on Churches. The most recent attack resulted in the death of the Priest and other Parishioners and the destruction of the Church itself.

The world was caught by surprise when the Islamic State released a video that was from their leader Al-Baghdadi. During this video he called for attacks against the “Crusader France and its allies.” If this is to be taken at face value it is clear that a receptive audience was found in Burkina Faso.

An ambush took place in May in Niger that killed 27 soldiers. What should be concerning to analysts is that this attack was in the same general area where four US Special Forces were killed two years ago. This incident is still creating controversy in Washington to this very day and has impacted to what level the United States will interact with the region will be.

Terrorism aside, crime is another threat to foreign nationals visiting the region. In May this year a Lebanese national, Ashraf Rida Shour, was abducted at gunpoint for ransom in Abidjan. He was subsequently freed. It is unclear if a ransom was paid.

Source: Kidnapped Lebanese man freed in Ivory Coast

Two Ivorians and a Lebanese National arrested in connection tho the abduction of Lebanese national Ashraf Rida Shour

In Ghana, two Canadian women, aged 19 and 20, were abducted in June this year. “Kidnappings for ransom have been all too common for years in Nigeria, and officials in Ghana say they are on the rise there too.

Ghana has long been considered one of the least dangerous countries in west Africa, but the women’s abductions marked the second time in a month that foreigners had been targeted in Kumasi. A previous rescue effort freed an Indian national.”

Source: Two Canadian women abducted in Ghana rescued by security forces

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