A busy week all around.....
On the northeastern border of Nigeria and Cameroon, on Wednesday, Camerounian Army troops uncovered a huge bomb-making factory used by the Boko Haram terror group to manufacture IED's near the town of Ngoshe, in Borno State, and possibly suicide bombs that have inflicted a wave of death and destruction throughout the region. A number of militants were also captured by Nigerian forces as they fled the Camerounian troops. Also recovered were a number of light vehicles, abandoned as the terrorists fled the security sweep.
Meanwhile, during a security sweep to the west, Nigerian forces rescued Rakiya Abubkar, one of the two hundred girls remaining in captivity, who were kidnapped from a boarding school in Chibok in 2014. The girl was found wandering in the bush near Alagarno Forest, a former stronghold of the group, with a six-month old infant. The terror group has killed over 15,000 people in its seven-year long insurgency, at one point, controlling an area the size of Belgium. However, steady operations by Nigeria and Cameroon, as well as neighboring Niger, have slowly ground the terror group down, to the point where they are currently capable only of suicide bomb attacks and occasional ambushes.
Worryingly, however, reports are beginning to surface of a near-mutiny by the Nigerian Army's 21 Armored Brigade in the Sambisa Forest, protesting poor treatment and lack of food. Although denied by Army Headquarters, severe administrative and logistical shortcomings are endemic to Third World armies, especially in Africa, and have led to the collapse of more than one army, when the problem is ignored.
Citing the ongoing instability in Libya to its north, the government in N'Djamena announced on Thursday that it was closing its border with its neighbor to the north, citing "potential terrorist infiltration" and its intention to boost its military presence in the region. While harsh and sparsely-populated, the Tibesti Mountains region has been a flashpoint in the ongoing war against Boko Haram. Chad is seen a key part of the somewhat informal regional alliance that has evolved to battle the terror group in recent years.
As if to underscore Chadian concerns, aircraft loyal to emerging Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar struck the Al Jufra airbase on Tuesday, reportedly injuring the spokesperson of the Misurata Military Council, Ibrahim Bayt Al-Mal, as Libya's bloody civil war - the aftermath of the overthrow of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, part of the widening series of conflicts that began as the "Arab Spring", but which are starting to become known as the "Arab Winter".
Libya's neighbor to the northwest dismantled yet another reputed terrorist cell as part of a widening crackdown on what had been a safe haven for terror cells.
Finally for Africa, Somali terror group Al Shabaab raided a checkpoint in Jowhar, the regional capital of Middle Shabelle Province. Civilians reported heavy fire from machine guns and mortars. Al Shabaab claimed to have killed several soldiers. Government spokesmen have not released a statement as this article goes to press.
In the south, Somali National Army (SNA) and Kenyan Defense Forces continued to spar with the terrorist group in the region around Gedo and El Wak, while SNA and AMISOM forces recaptured the town of Mooragaabey, in the Bakool region.
In ongoing operations throughout the region, the Syrian Government air force pounded ISIL positions in the Homs and Hama regions near Damascus, continuing all the way to the border with Turkey, to the north, where mopping up operations continue against holdouts around the city of Aleppo, reportedly killing numerous terrorists and destroying equipment and construction shops.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the war-torn country, Kurdish forces of the Syrian Democratic Forces' (SDF) hammered the terror group's forces northwest of the terrorists "capital" of Al Raqqa. Reportedly,, significant amounts of badly-needed supplies and equipment were recovered by the poorly-supplied Kurdish troops.
In Iraq, to the east, Iraqi forces were equally busy, repulsing an ISIL attack on the Iraqi-Kurdish 16th Brigade as the attempted to clear a residential neighborhood in the city of Nineveh [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineveh], north of the city of Mosul [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosul], reportedly killing ten terrorists, while the Iraqi National Army's [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraqi_Army] Third Division [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3rd_Division_(Iraq)] and the 9th Brigade of the Iraqi Federal Police killed at least sixty terrorists in a separate operation south of Mosul.
On the far side of Shia Iran - which remains quiet - the battle against Radical Islam grinds forward, with dozens of Taliban killed throughout the country and supply dumps were captured, even as the Taliban struggle to maintain a veneer of authority, meting out their version of "justice", through the liberal use of the venerable "Cat-O-Nine-Tails"...and by singling out female police officers for assassination.
Proving that extremism is in no way limited to religions, the "Red Corridor" lived up to its name, this week, as Naxalites clashed with Indian security. Video clips released by police reportedly showing Naxalites taking control of a forest area near Palakkad, on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, in the extreme south of the country.
Further north, in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, police fought a sporadic gunfight for two days with a reputed Naxal, who was armed with an INSAS squad automatic weapon, the standard light machine gun of the Indian Army. Naxals are also suspected of murdering two villagers on the border of the states of Jharkhand and Bihar, on suspicion of informing on them to police.
In India's extreme northeast, troops from the Assam Rifles in Arunachal Pradesh arrested a cadre of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland-Reformation (NSCN-R), who claimed to have been trained in a camp in neighboring Myanmar.
Ominously, a joint statement issued by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) and the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA-Independent) guerrilla groups in Assam, Tripura and West Bengal warned "Hindi and Bengali speakers" to leave a wide swath of territory by March 31, claiming that India was engaging in "colonialism".
It should be noted that we reported, in our SITREP for 12-25-2016, that these very groups were recruiting medical personnel, and that an offensive might be in the offing.
Sporadic fighting continues in the Donbass region, with as many as fifty separate attacks, ranging from small arms to artillery in a two-day period threatening the shaky ceasefire in the region, although few casualties - less than a dozen - resulted.
German police on Friday seized between 100- and 150kg of explosives from the home of an 18-year old in Lauterecken, Rhineland-Palatinate. The 18 year old is in custody, along with a 24 year old from North Rhine-Westphalia. The pair are accused of plotting a "right-wing" terror attack in Kaiserslautern. Right-wing extremism has been gaining ground in Germany in the wake of the influx of massive waves of refugees from the war-torn Middle East, and a huge upsurge in crime and terror attacks within Germany, as well as throughout Western Europe.
Finally, this week, Mexico erupted. While mainstream US media focused - such as it did - on the attempted murder of a US Consular official in Jalisco State, the real story is the wave of populist violence that has erupted across the country in outrage at the government hiking gasoline prices by 14-20%.
This unrest is dangerous, as Mexico remains shaky from its seemingly interminable drug war. However, unlike the peasant revolt in Chiapas, over a decade ago, the outrage over the government's arbitrary price hike of a critical commodity, coupled to a shaky economy, raises the specter of potential civil war...which bodes ill for anyone living within walking distance of Mexico.
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