‘No longer a secret:’ Al-Qaeda, Daesh terrorist groups hitting each other in Africa’s Sahel

The file image shows Malian soldiers patrolling the northern city of Gao, Mali, in February 2017. (By AFP)
The al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist groups have turned their guns on each other despite having previously cooperated in Africa’s Sahel region.

Sporadic clashes between the two groups earlier this year have escalated into full-blown combat in countries such as Mali and Burkina Faso, AFP cited experts as saying in a report on Friday.

Local officials and experts believe feuds over land and fodder crops are among the reasons of the fighting.

“We don’t know where it’s going to end; each one wants to get the upper hand over the other,” said Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the United Nations (UN) special representative in Mali.

He added that the infighting among the terrorists was “no longer a secret.”

Clashes between the two groups began after Daesh-affiliated militants crossed into territory controlled by al-Qaeda-affiliated forces in the Dialloube region of central Mali at the start of the year.

According to an unnamed security expert in the central Malian city of Mopti, over 60 terrorists were killed in clashes between Daesh and al-Qaeda in the area in March.

Daesh also claimed to have killed over 35 al-Qaeda members near the Malian border in neighboring Burkina Faso in late April.

According to AFP, however, no footage of the clashes between al-Qaeda and Daesh has come out. Experts have highlighted that a lack of intelligence exists regarding Sahel’s several militancy hotbeds, with information from the regions often being exaggerated.

Ever since al-Qaeda terrorists first emerged in northern Mali in 2012, violence in the Sahel has led to thousands of deaths among soldiers and civilians alike.
Al-Qaeda has currently also spread its activities into central Mali and neighboring Burkina Faso.

Daesh, which established itself in the region in 2015, is currently active in the border areas of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

According to experts, the two groups enjoyed an unofficial alliance, swapping fighters and coordinating attacks, before fighting broke out between them this year.

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