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Over 3,500 terrorist attacks recorded in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger — ECOWAS

3f69de5f ecowas commission abuja office

The Economic Community of West African States recorded over 3,500 terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger Republic in 2023 which resulted in nearly 7,000 deaths.

ECOWAS Commission, however, said the regional bloc was establishing a terrorism force to address the challenge.

The Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, ECOWAS Commission, Amb. Abdel-Fatau Musa disclosed this at the weekly press briefing of the ECOWAS Commission held on Friday in Abuja.

Fatau noted that nearly 2,000 attacks were recorded in Burkina Faso, over 1,044 in Mali, and 500 in Niger Republic.

He explained, “The whole geographical area of West Africa is rich in human and natural resources. However, our geographic area is an area of immense vulnerability.

“Particularly the Sahel countries; in 2023 alone, over 3,500 terrorist attacks were recorded.

“This includes close to 2,000 in Burkina Faso, over 1,044 in Mali, and 500 in Niger Republic. These incidents resulted in close to 7,000 fatalities in the three Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

“In the three Sahel countries, a total of 4.8 million people faced food insecurity, 2.4 million people were internally displaced and close to 9,000 schools remain closed in the region.

“Burkina Faso has already taken over from Afghanistan.”

The commissioner added that the creation of Counter Terrorism Force was underway, noting that the region will soon work out modalities to finance the force.

“On terrorism, you would recall during that the previous ECOWAS meeting, the Heads of State decided that there was a need to create a counter-terrorism force to help fight terrorism in the region. This is presently underway.

“Very soon, there will be a meeting of Ministers of Finance and Defence to work out the modalities of raising our own resources in the region to finance that counter-terrorism force,” he said.

The 15-nation bloc ECOWAS, formed in 1975 to promote economic integration in member states, has struggled in recent years to reverse a wave of military takeovers in the region, including Mali in 2020 and 2021, Burkina Faso in 2022 and Niger last year.

The exit of three countries from ECOWAS threatened the African Continental Free Trade Area aimed at accelerating intra-African trade and boosting the continent’s trading position in the global market.

Earlier, ECOWAS imposed economic sanctions on the countries.

The sanctions were, however, lifted last week following the intervention of Nigeria’s ex-military head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon.

The President, ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, said the decisions were taken in the interest of unity and security in the African sub-region.

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