The Strategic Use of Unidentified Armed Groups In Conflict Zones

Unidentified armed groups (UAGs) constitute a large share of violent actors in the ACLED dataset; approximately 15% of organized, armed conflict carried out by violent actors (e.g., government forces, rebels, political militias, communal militias, external forces) are at the hands of UAGs.  There are many reasons why a group may be ‘unidentified’: the first is…

The Targeting of Children in Conflict Zones, Part 1: General Trends

Violence against children is a conscious strategy employed by armed groups within conflict contexts. When children are targeted or killed, it is often in an attempt to instill terror in populations, or to reaffirm brutality and gain (global) notoriety, given that the targeting of children is meant to send a message to (adult) adversaries and/or…

Rape as a Weapon of Political Violence, Part 1: Trends Across Africa

Sexual violence as a weapon of political conflict is a serious, present-day atrocity affecting millions of people (primarily women and girls)[1] with grave health implications, both physical and psychological (Bastick, Grimm, and Kunz, 2007; UN, 2015). It is frequently a conscious strategy employed by armed groups to torture and humiliate opponents; terrify individuals and destroy…

Terrorism: A review of differences in definition

The existence of multiple, contrasting and even contradictory definitions and conceptualisations of terrorism in policy, legal frameworks and academic research is well-documented. The plethora of competing legal definitions has been likened to the Bermuda Triangle (Dedeoglu, 2003), and attempts to develop consensus around a single one, to ‘the quest for the Holy Grail’ (Levitt, 1986).…

Resource-Related Conflict in Africa

Natural resource extraction by mining (including oil, diamonds, copper, and cobalt) has tremendous positive economic potential for states. However, these resources can also do more harm than good if used towards ulterior motives including corruption, the unequal distribution of wealth, and to fuel violence. Valuable resources can both fuel violence through competition for territorial control,…

Al Shabaab in Kenya a Year After Westgate

In the aftermath of the attack by Al Shabaab on the Westgate shopping centre in September 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta vowed to punish the perpetrators of the attack and continue the ‘moral war’ against Al Shabaab. Kenyatta also called on Kenya’s diverse society to stand united against the attackers (Jamhuri, 22 September 2013). Yet, Al Shabaab…

Violence in Somalia

Last week, President Obama announced that the United States plans to deal with the ISIS threat with a similar strategy to what they have been implementing in Somalia to combat Al Shabaab. [1]  This decision has been met with scrutiny, as it is not clear how truly successful or effective the strategy in Somalia has…

ACLED Resources on Kenya

Kenya is currently suffering from multiple security crises tied to overlapping political tensions at home and abroad. Over the past couple of months individual incidences of violence against civilians have become more lethal, leading to a dramatic rise in civilian fatalities. ACLED researchers have compiled a selection of resources to facilitate analysis of the levels…

What do the Mpeketoni attacks say about conflict in Kenya?

Both conflict events and reported fatalities increased in Kenya this month, with the most intense violence associated with an attack on civilians in Witu, Lamu island, in Kenya’s Coastal region. The attack incorporates several key complex dynamics in contemporary Kenyan political violence, each of which is worth unpacking in turn. The first is the spectre…