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Why terrorism is killing more and more people in Africa

Terrorism Africa

The number of deaths, particularly civilians, by terrorist groups is constantly increasing in Africa.

"Islamist violence in Africa has set new records in terms of violent events and deaths in the year 2022, researchers Joseph Siegle and Wendy Williams find in The Conversation. This development is part of an uninterrupted upward trend that has lasted for ten years”. Terrorism, which the two experts describe as Islamist, would therefore kill more and more: "Violent events and deaths have almost doubled since 2019", say the researchers.

In terms of numbers, analysis by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (CESA) shows the extent of the damage: “We found that there were 6 cases of violence involving militant Islamist groups in Africa in 859. This is a 2022% increase from 22. Fatalities related to these events increased by 2021% to 48 fatalities. This reflects a sharp increase in the number of deaths per event,” say Joseph Siegle and Wendy Williams.

“These militant groups seek not so much to win hearts and minds as to intimidate local populations into complying with their commitments,” they continue. According to the ACLED (Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project), there has been a 68% increase in deaths involving civilians in these cases of Islamist terrorism.

Acts more political than religious

And five regions of the continent are particularly affected: the Sahel, of course, is one of the most important theaters of terrorism. The security situation in the Sahel “mortgags the future of the populations”, according to the head of the UN office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mahamat Saleh Annadif, who explained at the end of 2021 that “the consequences could be felt well beyond the West African sub-region. In addition to the Sahel, Somalia, the Lake Chad Basin, northern Mozambique and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula are also affected. “The Sahel and Somalia alone accounted for 77% of all such violent events over the past year,” say Joseph Siegle and Wendy Williams.

But if, for the researchers, "the Islamist threat is not monolithic", given the number of groups present on the continent, it is above all the motivations that explain the resurgence of deaths and violence. It is also simplistic to speak of Islamist terrorism when we know that religious ideology is not the only motivation of these groups.

The Global Terrorism Index (GTI), made an astonishing observation last year: “Politically motivated terrorism has now taken over religiously motivated armed violence. The latter fell by 82% in 2021. Over the past five years, there have been five times more politically motivated terrorist attacks than religiously motivated ones”.

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