From “Baobab Echos” Nr 8 – January 2018
Successively Mali, then Burkina Faso and finally Niger have since January been the target of terrorist groups difficult to identify… Unlike other times, in Burkina Faso, before attacking the General Headquarters of the Faso Armies, a group attempted to penetrate, without success, into the premises of the French Embassy. Every time, not only did the assailants be slaughtered but soldiers and civilians paid a heavy tribe in dead and wounded, not to mention the enormous damages
It was on Saturday, February 24, 2018, in Northern Mali, that an attack caused the deaths of three civilians. Their car had exploded on a mine. Since January, the media has reported two distinct explosions in the North and central part of the country. Because armed groups are very dispersed in Northern Mali, it is difficult to identify and neutralise them. In addition, the Algerian Embassy in Bamako was the target, on Tuesday 13 March 2018, of acts of vandalism perpetrated by Malian nationals expelled from Algeria. Unhappy with their expulsion from Algeria, the latter organised a demonstration in front of the headquarters of the Algerian Embassy in Bamako, which ended with stone throwing and a fire in a garden outside the Diplomatic representation.
On Friday, 2 March 2018, in broad daylight, at 10:00 a.m., Burkina Faso was the scene of a new attack, the third in Ouagadougou for two years. It was initially the buildings of the French Embassy and the consulate that were targeted, in the immediate vicinity of the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso’s office, and then it was the explosion of a car packed with explosives in the Staff court, right in the city centre. In our guest house, 300 meters from there, the windows of the living room and of the television room were blown away. The assailants were all slaughtered, but the armed forces lost eight soldiers in these attacks, the youngest had just turned 21. In addition to this terrible record, there were more than 85 wounded, some seriously. In the city, panic was general, people fled thinking it was a new “coup d’état”. The calm is back now but we notice that in the evening there is less traffic. The roads, ordinarily full of businesses and full of life, have become very quiet. In the photo, above, we notice the huge cloud of smoke that followed the explosion at the general staff.
A week later, on Monday, 12 March 2018, it was the turn of Niger to be the target of new attacks. Around 21:40 that evening, the Police Post of Goubé, 40 km from Niamey, in the region of Tillabéri, was attacked by terrorist elements. There we deplored three dead and one wounded among the policemen.
While these attacks in the major centres were carried out, there were also many assaults in the periphery and in the province, often close to the borders.
All the media, from Burkina and elsewhere, commented on these events.The populations, for their part, measure not only the losses of life, the wounded and the material damage, but also the future of peace in all the countries of the subregion. The security measures are slow to be put in place, especially the G5 Sahel, which lacks financial resources at the moment.
On the other hand, the situation of the hostages is equally disturbing.Mali marked the sad anniversary (one year) of the hostage-taking in Karangasso, a parish in the Diocese of Sikasso. Sister Gloria, a Colombian sister of the Franciscans of Mary Immaculate, is still retained. Throughout Mali, on 7 February, the anniversary of the hostage-taking, prayers were held to request the release of Sister Gloria and all the hostages held in the Sahel.