African leaders push for new approach to fighting terrorism Moussa Faki Mahamat

ADDIS ABABA. – A surge in extremist violence on the continent killed over 7 000 civilians just last year alone, according to regional data.

The African Union (AU) is calling for a more robust counter-terrorism strategy, including the deployment of a standby security force to address surging extremist violence across the continent.

In a speech at a security summit in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja on Monday, AU Commission President Moussa Faki Mahamat said that escalating attacks by armed groups in all African regions necessitate greater local-led peacekeeping efforts.

According to Faki, the number of daily attacks by militants on the continent rose to an average of eight last year, compared to just four between 2017 and 2021. The average daily death count reached 44, up from 18 over the 2017-2021 period.

“Unfortunately, civilians continue to bear the brunt of these heinous acts, with over 7,000 casualties in 2023 alone.

“Moreover, the Security and Military Sectors have not been spared, experiencing an alarming 190,8 percent surge in losses in personnel, amounting to over 4 000 fatalities,” Faki said.

He blamed the security situation for recent coups in some AU member states, particularly in West Africa, where Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger all deposed civilian governments over alleged failures to quell decades of jihadist insurgency despite the presence of foreign troops.

All three military-ruled states have expelled French forces, accusing Paris of meddling. Niger also recently terminated a 2012 defence cooperation agreement with Washington that had allowed around 1 000 US soldiers and civilian contractors to be stationed in the landlocked country.

Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe said while the Sahel suffers the highest number of attacks, coastal states such as Togo are also facing growing threats due to the inability of decades-old institutions to effectively respond to the crisis.

Faki said more funding is needed to help counter the spread of terrorism. – RT.

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