Africa should confront terrorism threat

Somalia National Army soldiers at a bomb demolition site in Kismayo on October 13, 2022. [Brian Otieno, Standard]

An attack by militants on a school in western Uganda left at least 37 people, the majority of them children, died last Friday. The attack was reportedly carried out by members of Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan militant group that is based in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that is linked to the Islamic State.

In Kenya, eight police officers were killed when their vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device suspected to have been planted by Al Shabaab last week. On Sunday, at least two Kenya Defence Forces troops were killed after they responded to an attack on a General Service Unit (GSU) team in Lamu which left 10 GSU officers injured. Several other terror incidents have caused death in the recent past in Kenya.

Somalia has too suffered the blunt of the terrorist group recently. There is no doubt that Al Shabaab is trying to re-energise itself after suffering heavy losses in the past few years.

But it is not only East Africa that is smarting as a result of terrorism. In West Africa, militants affiliated to the Islamic State continue to wreak havoc in Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. Islamic State-linked Al Shabaab has also killed many people in northern Mozambique.

Virtually all corners of Africa have a problem with terrorism today, with the Islamic State being mentioned more on the continent than it is in Iraq and Syria where it first came to the limelight in 2014.

African leaders should not continue to treat the threat of terrorism with kid gloves. They must treat it with the seriousness it deserves by working tirelessly in concert to decapitate its head. No one country can deal with this threat alone. African countries should, therefore, join forces in all respects - in terms of intelligence, military hardware and security officers - to tackle the menace. No country should rest easy when militants strike and cause deaths in Nigeria or Uganda as happened last week. Such an attack should be treated as an affront, not only on these countries but on all the 54 African countries. That would lead to a robust response by the entire continent. We must not allow Africa to become the headquarters of Islamic State.