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ACLED Regional Overview – Africa (22 January 2019) – Mali

The main developments in Africa during the week of January 13 include Al Shabaab's demonstration of strength in Kenya between strong defeats in Somalia; the violent ethnic attacks in Nigeria, Mali and Ethiopia; and the riots in Zimbabwe and Côte d'Ivoire.

One of the main developments of last week was Al Shabaab's attack on people in the luxurious DusitD2 hotel complex in the Parklands / Highridge estate of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on January 16th. Al Shabaab militants detonated explosives outside the building before entering and opening fire with at least 21 dead and many injured. This was the first high-profile attack by the militants in Nairobi since they targeted Westgate Mall on 21-22 September 2013, which killed 67. Two days later, in Somalia, Al Shabaab militants tended to ambushed to Ethiopian soldiers outside Buur Xakaba (Bay province), inflicting among the highest death rates (57) on Ethiopian troops in the country until today. These two events represent a significant escalation of Al Shabaab, which is under increasing pressure in Somalia, in particular from US air and drone strikes. Over 60 US airstrikes were registered against the group in the ACLED dataset between January 2018 and January 19, 2019, causing about 450 deaths. 70% of these fatal accidents have occurred in the last three months. Last week, US forces have done so far among their most deadly airstrikes, killing 52 al-Shabab militiamen at one time in Jilib (Middle Juba).

High fatal events were also reported by a series of other attacks across the continent last week. In Nigeria, unknown armed men aboard 25 motorcycles attacked three villages in the district of Gandi (state of Sokoro), along the border with the state of Zamfara, killing 26 civilians. The attacks occurred in the middle of an axis that should be strengthened to support Nigerian military operations against armed bandits and livestock breeders in the state of Zamfara. In Mali, the suspected militants of the Islamic State (the Great Sahara) attacked three villages in the Menaka and Ansongo (Gao region) cercles on January 15, clashing with the Tuareg and Dawsahak militias and with the execution of civilians. 42 people were declared killed in total. Finally, in Ethiopia, suspected raiders of armed livestock killed at least 37 settlers from the Kambata ethnic group in the Keffa area of ​​the Southern Nations. A previous attack had been recorded in similar circumstances on 2 October 2018. Ethnic violence remains significant in Ethiopia and covers all regions.

Finally, there were two significant waves of demonstrations last week. In Zimbabwe, protests, riots and strikes broke out following President Mnangagwa's announcement of a sharp rise in fuel prices on 13 January. Police and military forces responded to demonstrations with live fire and tear gas and beat people during door-to-door research during the week. The young men armed with the Zimbabwe Patriotic African National Front (ZANU-PF) have accused the opposition to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of conducting the protests: they searched the homes of the MDC leaders in Harare and beaten and kidnapped their relatives. Reportedly, at least 12 people were killed in the riots and more than 600 were arrested. Although political violence has reached minimum levels in Zimbabwe since the national and local elections of July 2018, in recent months there have been numerous protests over the deterioration of the country's economic situation. The rapid popular reaction of last week to the economic measure and the violence of the security forces have shown a continuous instability in the country, risking to jeopardize Mnangagwa's international fundraising efforts to meet economic challenges.

Protests and riots broke out in the Ivory Coast following the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to absolve the deposed president Laurent Gbagbo and his former minister Charles Ble Goude of crimes against humanity. The group of victims organized at least seven events in the period between 14 and 17 January, mainly in the municipalities of the district of Abidjan, Bouake (Gbeke) and Korhogo (Poro). Gbagbo was delivered to the ICC in 2011, after months of post-election violence that caused the death of thousands of people while refusing his defeat against Alassane Ouattara in the presidential election of the ballot. The decision of the ICC is likely to further destabilize the Ivorian policy, such as the upcoming 2020 elections.

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