BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI – The African continent seems to have suffered from far more than its proportionate share of terrorism over the decades.
I came across a disturbing piece this morning in the online edition of the New African which featured the headline “Africa now eye of global terrorism storm”. The report went on to say that according to something called the Terrorism Index (full disclosure: I had never heard of this resource before), when it comes to nations faced with a serious terrorist threat “seven of the 10 highest risk countries are on the African continent“.
Those countries are (in order of ‘worseness’): Burkina Faso, Mali, Somalia, the DRC, Niger, Mozambique and Cameroon. Furthermore, Nigeria came in at #11. This is not a list countries want to be on.
Another catastrophic era of violence on the continent was what transpired in Rwanda in 1994 with the massacre of Tutsis by their Hutu compatriots. As many as 800,000 died. While this could easily have been described as a colossal act of terrorism (violence that was ethnically/politically motivated) the sheer scale of these acts renders them more aptly labelled a near genocide.
There were, however, acts of terrorism in the same region, albeit a generation later.
On this day in 2016
Four people were killed in Burundi in a grenade attack on a bar in the capital Bujumbura. Unknown attackers also threw grenades at an army patrol and at police in Bujumbura, hurting several people.
A fact-finding mission by the AU has reported arbitrary killings, torture and the closure of some civil society organisations and the mediaBBC Article
Those behind the attack were neither identified nor caught, making it hard to definitively call this an act of terrorism. Possible links to disputed elections do point in that direction though. In addition, a delegation from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights had undertaken a fact-finding mission to Burundi from 7 to 13 December 2015. This sure strikes me as a politically-driven attack.