Terror attacks in Africa increased during 2011


The number of bomb attacks in Nigeria, Kenya and Somalia rose dramatically last year while terror groups used more sophisticated devices to inflict greater damage on the African continent.

The number of improvised explosive device (IED) incidents in Nigeria increased nearly four times last year, while Kenya witnessed an 86% increase.

A total of 877 terrorist incidents were reported in Africa last year, according to the Centre of Excellence Defence Against Terrorism (COE-DAT). These 877 attacks claimed 2 771 lives, caused 2 787 injuries and included 650 abductions.

The number of terrorist incidents in Africa accounted for 7% of the total number of incidents in the world in 2011. Somalia was the most hard-hit country in Africa with 373 incidents and 1 130 people killed, accounting for. 43% of all incidents in Africa. Also, Somalia suffered the most casualties in Africa last year.

After Somalia, Nigeria was the scene of 159 attacks killing 716, followed by Algeria (105 attacks; 159 dead), Kenya (34 attacks and 28 dead), Sudan (63 attacks and 451 dead) and the Ivory coast (27 attacks and 89 dead). Other top ten nations include Egypt, Mauritania, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi, according to COE-DAT data.

In Africa, the most common method of attack was clashes (284 incidences resulting in 1 388 killed), followed by IED attacks (190 cases resulting in 340 dead) and armed attacks.

In Africa, Somalia, Nigeria, Algeria, Kenya, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Mauritania, the DRC, Burundi, Tunisia, Libya, Niger, Senegal, Mali, Ethiopia, Central African Republic (CAR), Morocco, Guinea, Cameroon, Rwanda, Benin, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Zambia and Zimbabwe suffered from terrorist attacks in 2011.

The most significant attack in Africa was a suicide bombing in Yobe State in Nigeria on November 4, which claimed 100 lives. The incident happened when six bombs went off in different part of Damaturu.

Militants last year began using deadlier shaped charge devices for the first time in both Somalia and Nigeria, John Myrick, a US military bomb expert told The Associated Press. Advanced bomb-makers use shaped charges so that they can penetrate armour.

While Somalia saw only a small increase in attacks, the newer technology lead to greater casualties and deeper impact on Africa Union forces, Myrick said. He added that bombs in Somalia “are definitely more sophisticated and they’re definitely more effective against AMISOM armoured vehicles, which represents an advance in the capabilities of the insurgents”.

The Pentagon’s Joint IED Defeat Organization said that militants from Iraq and Afghanistan are sharing their experience with associates in Africa, especially after Somalia’s al Shabaab joined with al Qaeda.

Worldwide, COE-DAT reports 12 122 terrorist incidents in 96 different countries in 2011, versus 10 337 in the preceding year. These incidents claimed 17 6431 lives, caused 25 700 injuries and included 2 059 abductions. The incidents increased roughly 17% in the world compared to the previous year. Incidents in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan consist of 58% of all total incidents in the world.

Iraq suffered the most attacks in 2011, with 2 694 (3 065 killed), followed by Pakistan (2 309 attacks; 3 413 killed), Afghanistan (2 009 attacks; 2 977 killed) and India (1 166 attacks; 650 killed). Other top ten nations include Mexico, Somalia, Columbia, Thailand, Russia and Yemen.

COE-DAT said that improvised explosive device attacks, armed attacks and clashes consisted of 72% of the total attacks in the world in 2011. According to attack types, IED attack was the most prevalent methodology in the world during 2011.