Fatalities from Africa Islamists surged 22 percent – Report

Violence linked to militant Islamist groups across Africa surged by 22 percent over the past year (comprising 6,859 events), according…

Violence linked to militant Islamist groups across Africa surged by 22 percent over the past year (comprising 6,859 events), according to a just-released report by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.According to the report looking into the fatalities from militant Islamist violence in the continent between 2013 and 2022, this represents a new record of extremist violence and reflects a near doubling in the number of such events since 2019.

The report says that this kind of violence in Africa remains concentrated in five theaters, each comprising distinct locally based actors and context-specific challenges—the Sahel, Somalia, Lake Chad Basin, Mozambique, and North Africa.

”Militant Islamist violence in the Sahel and Somalia accounted for 77 percent of the total reported violent events across Africa in 2022” it adds.

Fatalities linked to militant Islamist groups increased an alarming 48 percent over the previous year.

The estimated 19,109 death toll passes the previous peak of 18,850 fatalities linked to militant Islamists set in 2015 when Boko Haram was at its height. 

It also marks a sharp reversal from 2021, which saw a slight drop in fatalities—to 12,920.

The escalation in fatalities is entirely a result of the increased violence in the Sahel and Somalia (accounting for 74 percent of total reported fatalities in Africa) as extremist-linked deaths in the Lake Chad Basin, Mozambique, and North Africa all plateaued or declined over the past year.

This spike in militant Islamist-linked fatalities was marked by a 68-percent increase in fatalities involving civilians and remote violence (which often targets civilians), underscoring the heavy costs being borne by noncombatants.

With 2,737 violent events, the western Sahel (Burkina Faso, Mali, and western Niger) experienced the largest escalation in violent events linked to militant Islamists over the past year of any region in Africa, a 36-percent increase.

Fatalities in the Sahel involving militant Islamist groups rose even more rapidly, 63 percent, resulting in 7,899 fatalities. 

The report says the Sahel has experienced a near doubling (90-percent increase) in fatalities and more than a doubling (130-percent increase) in violent events involving militant Islamist groups since 2020.

”This timeframe is notable in that it coincides with the seizure of power by a military junta in Mali in August 2020, which justified its coup as needed to address the militant Islamist security threat. However, rather than diminish, the trendline of violence has only accelerated” the report indicates. 

It also observes that an increasing number of attacks are taking place within 150km of the Malian capital Bamako.

According to the report, since the military government demanded the departure of French forces in 2022, mandate of the MINISMA peacekeeping mission has weakened despite the Russian mercenaries under the Wagner Group.

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