Dakar (AFP) – African states must brace for a long-term fight against jihadist organizations, which are developing new tactics, recruiting more fighters and learning from each other, the US special forces chief in the continent said.
“This kind of warfare is long term and there’s no shortcuts to it. You’ve got to stay on course and it requires everybody cooperating. You can’t underestimate their ability to resurge,” General Donald Bolduc told reporters in Dakar.
Bolduc’s comments late Monday came as the United States launched an annual military exercise dubbed Flintlock, which will see 1,700 special forces personnel from some 30 countries take part.
With jihadists in Africa increasingly resorting to attacks on markets and security forces, the latest round of training would focus on improving police and military preparedness, particularly for urban warfare.
“The most important training that we can do is connect that military training to the police,” he said.
Despite losses in the battlefield, extremists are becoming more “proactive” across the continent, Bolduc warned.
“They have transferred tactics, techniques and procedures, particularly in improvised explosive devices, and they have traded ideas and concepts on how to message and present themselves in public, solidifying their ideology and what they stand for.”
With Nigeria leading a regional offensive against Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency since last year, the group has resorted to carrying out a string of suicide and bomb attacks in and around Africa’s most populous country, leaving thousands of civilians dead.
In Burkina Faso and Mali, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for deadly attacks on hotels popular with foreigners in November last year and on January 15 this year.
In east Africa, Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab insurgents have lost ground since being routed from Mogadishu in 2011, but they continue to stage regular shooting and suicide attacks.
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