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African leaders spearhead efforts to tackle terrorism across the continent

African leaders discussed anti-terrorism solutions on the continent during a high-level security summit in the Nigerian capital Abuja Monday amid a rise in terror attacks.

According to the African Center for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT), Africa witnessed an average of eight terror-related incidents and 44 daily casualties in 2023. The toll included 7,000 civilians and 4,000 military personnel killed in attacks.

Nigeria’s National Security Adviser and organizer of the summit, Nuhu Ribadu, emphasized the urgent need to combat terrorism in Africa. He highlighted the diverse threats posed by terrorist groups and stressed the importance of integrated security strategies.

“These groups exploit local vulnerabilities and contribute to ongoing instability, necessitating integrated security strategies that combine military, economic and regional cooperation efforts,” Ribadu said.

For 15 years, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation has battled a spate of violent attacks from insurgent groups that have entrenched their strongholds across swathes of Africa’s troubled Sahel region, leaving thousands dead.

Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the chair of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, urged the proper establishment and strengthening of a regional standby military force. This force, initially proposed in response to the July 2023 coup in Niger, would act as a deterrent against large-scale terrorist operations, he said.

However, political instability in the Sahel region has hindered regional unity. Leaders from Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, severely impacted by insurgency, were absent from the summit after facing sanctions for coups.

During the summit, Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe underscored the critical need for cooperation among states and defense and security forces to effectively address security threats.

Supporting Africa’s fight

The two-day counter-terrorism summit, supported by the United Nations, was also attended by the chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat.

“The moment has come to work out an all-encompassing Continental Strategic Plan of Action to effectively fight against terrorism across Africa,” Faki said.

Tinubu and Faki also urged the international community to do more in supporting Africa’s fight against terrorism.

“We cannot understand that elsewhere in the world, coalitions to fight against terrorism were established and that similar efforts are not made in, at least, one of the five regions in Africa, where the destructive phenomenon is ravaging human lives, infrastructures and institutions. Why our voices are not heard and heeded?” Faki asked.

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