Might insurgents operating in Africa be serving notice on the continent to anticipate stepping up of attacks? This is the puzzle being contemplated following two coordinated, deadly attacks, one in Mubi in Nigeria and another one yesterday in Egypt, all within one week. The two examples are perhaps two scanty to sustain this claim but they could equally mark a trend.
Yesterday’s attack has been described in several quarters as the deadliest ever, involving encircling the worshippers and making it impossible for most people to flee. Insurgency in that part of Egypt is four years old now but nothing on this scale has happened before. It is, therefore, being interpreted as a warning sign to other countries facing insurgency.
Britain, France, the United States, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, the Arab League and even Israel have expressed solidarity with Egypt,
The Egyptian Government is reported to have revved up air attack on jihadists suspected to have carried out the attack on al-Rawdah Mosque yesterday killing an estimated 235 worshippers and wounding 130 others during Friday prayers. The figures might have gone beyond this by now. Although the suspected terrorists have not claimed responsibility, Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has said brute force is the way out and that the country cannot be intimidated. The government has declared 3 days of mourning. In fact, it has been reported that an instantaneous drone attacks killed 15 of the jihadists in the vehicles ferrying them from their mission in the aftermath of the attack on the worshippers.
There are no hints why jihadists appear to be intensifying attacks across Africa, especially Nigeria and Egypt. But some Nigerian experts are already drawing attention of African governments at the national, regional and continental levels to go beyond the scourge of Boko Haram and other forms of insurgency and deadly attacks against communities across the continent by beaming their search light on the activities of Foreign Volunteer Fighters/ Mercenaries. According to Dr Chris Kwaja, of the Yola based Centre for Peace and Security studies, for instance, “They constitute the oxygen that give life to local insurgent groups. That’s the most potent threat to security that we must confront headlong. It is a thriving criminal industry that has held the African continent siege since the 1990s”