Terrorist attack in Togo kills 8 soldiers

Togo is on the front line after its northern neighbor, Burkina Faso, fell prey to the jihadist chaos that had begun in neighboring Mali. Photo: Pius Utomi Ekpei, AFP

On Wednesday, eight soldiers were killed, and thirteen others were injured in a "terrorist attack" in northern Togo near the border with Burkina Faso, according to the administration, which used a term generally applied to jihadists.

Togo has deployed troops in the country's north to control a jihadist threat emanating from Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, where Al-Qaeda and Islamic State-affiliated terrorists operate.

The attack prompted the European Union to express concern about expanding jihadism to the region's coastline states.

"At about 03:00 GMT, an unnamed group of highly armed persons launched a savage terrorist attack on a forward operating post... in Kpinkankandi. "Sadly, eight members of the security forces have died, and thirteen have been injured," a statement broadcast on national television stated.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Kpinkankandi is close to the Burkina Faso border.

A senior security source in Togo who requested anonymity told AFP that 60 armed men on motorcycles attacked the soldiers.

"They traded fire for over two hours... Then, a unit of reinforcements was struck by an improvised explosive device, he added.

In November of last year, soldiers in the northern community of Sanloaga thwarted an attempt, making Wednesday's assault the first to result in casualties.

In West Africa, violence by armed organizations and criminal networks is rising.

The threat is growing.
Dominic Nitiwul, Ghana's defense minister, stated last week at a gathering of West African defense chiefs that the area has endured around 5,300 terror-related assaults that have claimed approximately 16,000 lives in the past three years.

A fundamental cause for concern is the extension of the threat from the Sahel to the northern coastal regions of Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Togo.

Wednesday, EU foreign policy leader Josep Borrell stated that the attack "demonstrates that the terrorist threat is spreading to Gulf of Guinea nations."

"Efforts must be redoubled before it is too late," urged Borrell.

Five soldiers were slain in an ambush by shooters in northern Benin, while nine civilians were killed in the country's bloodiest attack to date in February.

Mathieu Pellerin, a Sahel analyst at the International Crisis Group, observed, "This territorial expansion by jihadists will eventually give rise to homegrown jihadist cells comprised of local recruits who feed off of local grievances."

Local challenges include tensions over access to resources, stigmatization of specific ethnic groups, the presence of self-defense groups, and criminal and trafficking gangs, he added in a paper for the French Institute of International Relations published earlier this year in French.

"For coastal West African states, where the threat is currently contained in terms of intensity and geographically limited, there is still time to prevent the security situation from worsening."

Publish : 2022-05-12 09:53:00

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