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Sunday, March 7, 2021

West Africa: Will help from the UK make a mark?

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Fresh from Brexit, the United Kingdom is poised to reassert its presence in Africa, starting with the Western province where medieval Islam seeks to foment religious war.

UK soldiers deployed to West Africa to help tackle fast growing Islamist insurgency

Michael Howie and Tim Baker, EVENING STANDARD

British troops have been deployed to west Africa to help the battle against the world’s fastest-growing Islamist insurgency.

Around 30 troops from 1 Scots Guards and the Royal Marines are training three African nations in Senegal, to help fight extremism in the Sahel region.

The UK is later this year sending 250 troops to Mali to join a multinational peacekeeping operation.

It will be Britain’s first major war zone deployment since the end of Operation Herrick in Afghanistan more than five years ago.

The hard-liners in the area have been linked to Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

Major John House has been in charge in Senegal, and said being involved in the region will benefit the UK.

He told the BBC: “If we don’t act we may find the problems getting closer to our door.

“The more they have a presence in the region, the more we can feel the effect back in the UK.”

One of the frontline threats faced by soldiers fighting in the region is Boko Haram, also known as Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP).

The group shot to notoriety in April 2014 when they kidnapped almost 300 school girls in a smash and grab rain on a school.

Nigerian Special Boat Service Lieutenant Unyine Collins said: “They use suicide bombers, improvised explosive devices, mines, basically they use the same tactics as ISIS.”

#MediaAcrossBorders

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