The information, data and findings from the below brief was collected by and sourced from TRAC: Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, in partnership with the Mackenzie Institute. Please click here to visit TRAC.
Islamic State Khurasan (ISK) Suicide Attack on Shi’a in Afghanistan, and IED Attack Targeting Canadian-based Mining Company in Burkina Faso
Islamic State Khurasan (ISK) Suicide Attack on Shi’a Learning Center in the Dasht-e-Barchi Area in Kabul, Afghanistan (15 August 2018)
On 15 August 2018, at 4:40 p.m. local time, a suicide bomber entering on foot detonated his explosive belt inside the Mawoud Academy while students were still in class. Mawoud Academy is a private facility that holds mixed gender classes catering to students who take additional classes for university acceptance and preparation. Initial reports are least 48 dead and 67 injured.
Taliban/IEA denied involvement in the attack. Based on the target, the more likely suspect is Islamic State Khurasan Province. Not only has Islamic State Khurasan (ISK) carried out 14 separate attacks in Afghanistan’s capital since the start of 2018, but on 05 June 2018, Islamic State Khurasan threatened to close girl schools in Nagarhar Province as protection against impending airstrikes from “enemy forces.” As a result, more than 80 girl schools in Nangarhar announced closure and postposed its final exams due to the threat from ISK. Moreover, not only was Mawoud Academy holding mixed gender classes, but also its location being in a mainly Shi’a area of Kabul makes it a prime target for ISK. Additionally, ISK previously claimed an attack in the Dasht-e-Barchi area of Afghanistan in May 2018.
As of 16 August 2018, ISK has claimed credit for the attack insisting that 200 were killed and injured. This marks the fifteenth claimed attack in Kabul since the beginning of 2018 by ISK. Identifying the suicide bomber as ‘Abd ar-Ra’uf al-Khurashani, the released martyrdom photo of the attacker appears to be only a cub (child soldier) himself.
Two Attacks (IEDs/Ambush) in Tuy and Gourma Provinces Target a Canadian-based Mining Company in Burkina Faso (17 August 2018)
On 17 August 2018, a SEMAFO mining company convoy escorted by police was targeted and hit with an IED during an ambush in the Bekuy area located in the Tuy Province of Burkina Faso. Then, a transport vehicle escorted by the Republican Security Company (CRS) was ambushed by at least five unidentified armed individuals on the Dédougou-Bobo axis. According to a witness, the driver and an agent of the mining company were killed. In addition to these victims, three passengers including two police officers escorting the vehicle and another agent from the mine were injured.
According to the SEMAFO website, SEMAFO is a Canadian-based mining company (out of Montreal) with gold production and exploration activities in West Africa. The Corporation operates the Mana Mine in Burkina Faso, which includes the high-grade satellite deposit of Siou, and is reportedly targeting commercial production at the Boungou Mine in the third quarter of 2018.
The two incidents occurred in two different geographical areas with no indication of any correlation. However, the attacks were most likely executed by organized crime militias and not extremist activities. The geographical distance between Tuy and Gourma provinces are seen in the following map:
Burkina Faso is faced with an expanded militancy as seen in previous IED attacks executed by several actors, though not always involving extremist groups. The following map indicates where such attacks are likely to take place or have already taken place in (red is ‘high risk,’ orange is ‘medium’ risk). In any case, counterterrorism operations by Burkina Faso Forces are often viewed with circumspect due to human right abuses during such operations.
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The above has been compiled by Ryan J. Anderson, an MA student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, specializing in Intelligence and International Affairs. He is a Junior Research Affiliate with the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security, and Society (TSAS), a research analyst at the International Counter-Terrorism Youth Network (ICTYN), and was previously a Research Fellow at the Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP), Queen’s University. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanandrson.