Last week in Africa, the worsening conflict in Ethiopia spilled into neighboring Eritrea; a longstanding ceasefire was breached in the disputed Western Sahara; and French forces killed a senior Al Qaeda-affiliated militant in Mali.
The conflict between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and Ethiopian federal forces continued to worsen in Ethiopia, spilling into neighboring Eritrea. TPLF forces launched rockets targeting the Eritrean capital of Asmara, with further shelling reported at Bahir Dar and Gonder in Ethiopia’s Amhara region. The shelling followed days of fighting in the Western Tigray zone, during which hundreds of fatalities were reported and Ethiopian forces seized control of the towns of Sheraro and May Cadera. In May Cadera, hundreds of ethnic Amhara civilians were killed during an attack attributed to retreating TPLF-affiliated militia forces. Meanwhile, armed men allegedly backed by the TPLF attacked a bus at Dibate in Benshangul-Gumaz region, killing dozens of civilians. Thousands of refugees have fled across the border into Sudan since fighting began in early November (Reuters, 12 November 2020).
In the disputed Western Sahara, the Polisario Front announced their withdrawal from the 1991 United Nations-brokered ceasefire agreement with Morocco in response to Moroccan military operations. The re-escalation of the conflict followed Moroccan forces’ dispersal of Saharawi demonstrators who had been blocking the Guerguerat border checkpoint between Morocco and Mauritania for the past three weeks. An exchange of fire was subsequently reported between Moroccan and Polisario forces in the Mahbes area. The Moroccan operations prompted further demonstrations amongst Saharawi populations in Laayoune/El Aaiun and Semara, as well as Tindouf in Algeria.
In Burkina Faso, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants killed 13 Burkinabe soldiers and a gendarme during an attack on a military convoy in the area of Adjarara in Oudalan province. It was the most significant loss of Burkinabe soldiers since August 2019, when ISGS militants raided a military camp in Koutougou. In the days following the attack, French forces launched a series of retaliatory airstrikes against ISGS positions.
In Mali, French forces killed a senior Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) commander during a combined air-ground operation near Tadamakat in the Menaka region. Bah Ag Moussa was a close and senior aide to JNIM leader Iyad Ag Ghaly (Al Jazeera, 13 November 2020), and had been the subject of United Nations sanctions (VOA, 13 November 2020). French forces also targeted JNIM with operations in the Koro cercle of Mopti region, killing dozens of militants.
In the Ivory Coast, six people were killed over two days of inter-ethnic clashes between members of the Agni and Malinki communities in M’Batto town, prompted by the re-election of President Alassane Ouattara. Elsewhere, the ongoing detention of opposition leaders prompted violent demonstrations, and clashes between opposition supporters and state forces, as well as supporters of the ruling Rally of Houphouetistes for Democracy and Peace (RHDP). A curfew was declared in Daoukro (GardaWorld, 10 November 2020), capital of the Iffou region in Lacs district, after six people were killed in clashes in the town. Another three people were killed at Ellibou village in the Agneby-Tiassa region of Lagunes district, when the gendarmerie opened fire on demonstrators. For more on the Ivorian elections, see the ACLED Ivory Coast Election Watch.
A separate, weekly discussion of the ongoing conflict in Mozambique can be found in the Cabo Ligado project.
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