At least eight Togolese soldiers were killed and thirteen injured on the night of Tuesday May 10 to Wednesday May 11 during a “terrorist” attack in northern Togo, a first in the country hitherto spared from violence, has announced the government.
“Around 3 a.m., an advanced post of the Kondjouaré operation, located in the locality of Kpinkankandi, was the subject of a violent terrorist attack carried out by a group of heavily armed individuals not yet identified. This attack unfortunately left eight dead and thirteen injured on the side of the defense and security forces, “said the government in a press release read on state television.
This is the first deadly “terrorist” attack in Togo, where the army is deployed in the north to deal with the threat of a spillover of violence from jihadist groups present in neighboring Burkina Faso. Togo had recorded only one attack in November 2021. The government said it “strongly condemns this cowardly and barbaric attack”, specifying that it will do everything to “search for and disable these armed terrorist groups”.
According to a senior military official who requested anonymity, the soldiers were attacked by around 60 men on motorcycles. “The exchange of fire lasted more than two hours. And it was one of the backup teams that jumped on an improvised explosive device,” he told AFP.
“Jihadist Territorial Growth”
In November 2021, armed men launched an attack on the security forces in the village of Sanloaga (far north), without causing any casualties. A recent spate of border raids in countries south of the Sahel has confirmed fears that jihadist groups in the region are seeking to advance towards the coast.
Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger are struggling with jihadist insurgencies and neighboring states such as Ghana, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire are worried about overflows at their borders. In February, Benin has already paid the price after the death in the north of nine people, including a Frenchman, in three homemade bomb attacks, the deadliest in the country.
Jihadist groups form rear bases in Burkina Faso and Mali to “spread into Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, and to a lesser extent Togo, Ghana, Senegal and Guinea”, says researcher Mathieu Pellerin , specialist in political and security dynamics in the Sahel.
“This jihadist territorial outgrowth will gradually give rise to increasingly endogenous jihadist centers in these states, made up of local recruits and who feed on the fragilities” on the spot, he adds, in a report published in February by the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI).
Faced with the growing threat, the coastal States are organizing themselves, in particular with the Accra initiative launched in 2017 by Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo, to strengthen their security cooperation.