Since 1 December 2021, Benin has suffered jihadist attacks in the northern part of its territory. This confirms the fact that this West African country is the new target of Islamist groups. On Tuesday 08 and Thursday 10 February 2022, 09 people were killed in another attack in the W National Park.
In the north of Benin, the stretch of land known as “Point Triple” is a border area between Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. This part, which is to be taken over by the three countries, has recently been considered a critical area due to the terrorist actions observed. “This area, which until now has not been the subject of joint action by the three countries concerned, is also a poacher’s den. On 8 February 2022, while going to flush out the poachers, a patrol of African Parks Network (APN) rangers came across an improvised explosive device, as well as a second patrol in the same circumstances, resulting in a total of eight (8) deaths (1 APN civilian agent, 5 rangers as well as their French instructor, and 1 agent of the Beninese Armed Forces) and 12 injuries. Subsequently, a reconnaissance patrol suffered the same fate on Thursday 10 February 2022, resulting in a new civilian victim, an APN agent, and bringing the number of devices exploded by improvised mines to 3. This is the assessment made by the Beninese government in an extraordinary session of the Council of Ministers on Thursday 10 February 2022 reported on the website of the Secretariat General of the Government. This is the highest death rate the country has seen since its war against jihadism.
In 2019, two French tourists were kidnapped and their guide killed in the Pendjari Park in the north of the country. Perhaps unnoticed, this act was a precursor to the rise of terrorist attacks in Benin. Between 1 and 2 December 2021, an army position was targeted by jihadists in the far north of the country. Two soldiers died and the army was alerted. The day before, further East towards Banikoara, in Mékrou, always in this border area, a patrol had already been targeted at night by a group of armed men.
Then, on the morning of Thursday 6 January 2022, a Beninese Armed Forces vehicle hit an improvised mine in Tanguiéta, Atacora department, killing two people and injuring several others. This leads to the conclusion that between December 2021 and February 2022, approximately five attacks were perpetrated in the North of the country, resulting in more than a dozen deaths and numerous injuries.
The first reason for the increase in jihadist attacks in northern Benin has already been revealed by the government. This is the area known as the “Triple Point” which is neglected by the three cohabiting countries: Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. As a result, there is no effective presence of law enforcement and security forces, which encourages the development of criminal acts. Moreover, it was likely that Benin would one day face this phenomenon as it shares its northern borders with Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Niger. Three countries that are continuously at war with jihadists. Moreover, most of the attacks recorded in Benin are not frontal; there are many ambushes.
The Beninese state at work
The Beninese government has reassured all its people that the points held by the army have remained impassable and that its strategy will soon make the still critical area secure in order to guarantee peace and security throughout the national territory. It therefore reassures them to go about their normal business without giving in to fear. In addition, there is the policy of strengthening the Republican Police and the armed forces through the recruitment of 3,500 officers for both bodies. Better still, “The Head of State took the opportunity to affirm his conviction that all lives are important, including those of those who have sworn to defend the homeland at the cost of their own lives if necessary, and to invite the Government to put in place special measures to support the families of those who might make the supreme sacrifice. In addition to all the methods of retaliation, we should think of a strategy to unearth the homemade mines that today cause more deaths than exchanges of fire. In short, the Beninese people must remain united to defeat this enemy of the republic.