Ambassadors Call for Tighter Regional and Global Cooperation to Fight Threat of Attacks in SenegalFebruary 5, 2016 in Senegal
On Tuesday, the ambassadors of France and the United States issued separate statements calling for tighter regional and global cooperation to fight the threat of jihadist attacks in Senegal and the broader West Africa region. In the wake of two successive attacks in the past few weeks, which saw the capitals of Mali and Burkina Faso being targeted, Senegal’s Interior Minister Abdoulay Daouda Diallo disclosed that “the surge of terrorist groups shows the international community must fight terrorism everywhere with the same combativity.”
Speaking at talks on a four-year French funding plan against terrorism, he added that the only way forward was to “strengthen our cooperation” and “share our means.” France’s ambassador to Senegal, Jean-Felix Paganon, who attended the meeting, stated that cooperation in the fight against the Islamist threat “calls for regional and international cooperation.” Meanwhile in a separate meeting with the media, US ambassador James Zumwalt stated that “the Senegalese are very eager to partner with us and work with us because they obviously are concerned about the possibilities of terrorist incidents and also worried about radical extremism here in Senegal.” He added that “the threat is no greater now than it was before the attack in Burkina Faso, it’s the same thereat. And the Senegalese capability is the same capability that they had before.” The US ambassador also indicated that “there’s more awareness now about those threats and we clearly want to work very closely with Senegal to help them increase their capacity to respond, either pre or post attack, to a terrorist incident.” An upcoming three-week joint military exercise between Africa, US and European troops, known as Flintlock and due to begin in Senegal and Mauritania next week, will aim to help a country respond to an Islamist attack. Senegal, like Mali and Burkina Faso – which were hit by deadly Islamist attacks in November and January respectively – is a majority Muslim nation however it has so far been free of extremist jihadist attacks. However a Senegalese security source has disclosed that in November, around a dozen people, including several Muslim preachers, were arrested in the country for “links to AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) and Islamic State.”
On 15 January, gunmen launched an attack on two hotels and a café popular with foreigners in the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou, leaving thirty, mostly foreigners, dead. In November, militants launched a similar attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali. Both attacks were claimed by AQIM.