At least three Italians, one Polish citizen, and one American have been kidnapped in the Sahel over the last two months. At least five other Westerners remain in captivity in the region – all of which are held by jihadist groups.
While Togo suffered its first ever jihadist attack in Nov. 2021, yesterday’s large assault represents the first loss of life from such violence in the small West African state. At least 8 Togolese troops were killed and 13 others wounded in an attack on a base and subsequent IED blast.
France says its forces killed Yahia Djouadi, a senior veteran of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, inside northern Mali. The raid comes after France and its European allies are set to withdraw from Mali.
In a recent statement released online, Jamaat Ansar al Muslimeen, better known as Ansaru, confirmed it maintains its allegiance to al Qaeda after reportedly re-pledging allegiance to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in 2020.
As violence continues to spread across the Sahel, particularly in Burkina Faso, the violence is now seeping into the states of Ivory Coast, Togo, and Benin.
Local Malian sources report that the emir of Katibat Gourma, a sub-unit of Al Qaeda’s Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), was killed in a French operation in northern Mali yesterday. France has confirmed it targeted Katibat Gourma, but the death of its emir is not yet confirmed.
Northern Ivory Coast has seen a substantial increase in suspected jihadist attacks since March of this year. Much of the violence is emanating from southwestern Burkina Faso, where al Qaeda’s Katibat Macina is expanding.
Baye Ag Bakabo is linked to several of AQIM’s kidnappings in Mali, including the operation that left two RFI journalists dead in 2013.