MARCH 28, 2021
At around 10:30 am local time, two suicide bombers on a motorbike- a male college student and his female partner-- blew themselves up at the gates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic cathedral in the port city of Makassar (Ujung Padang) on Sulawesi island. The attack took place as first group of churchgoers was walking out of the church while another group was going in to participate in the Palm Sunday Mass—marking the first day of the Easter Holy Week. At least 14 people were wounded in the blast, including four security guards, who reportedly approached the assailants who immediately detonated their explosives devices. The two are believed to be members of the Islamic State-inspired Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD). About 64 suspects members of the group were detained by the counterterrorism unit Densus 88, in several provinces, including 19 last month in Makassar, following a tip off about possible attacks against police and places of worship.
MARCH 24, 2021
The military announced that it has regained full control of the coastal town of Palma, 12 days after it was raided by militants from the Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP) group. Dozens of civilians, including foreigners were killed and at least 11,000 were displaced following the attack on 24 March. Soldiers found the beheaded bodies of twelve white people buried in a shallow grave about 100 meters from the Amarula Hotel. Communication with the town, which has a population of about 75,000, remains cut. Following the attack, French Total energy company, withdrew its staff, while the United Nations suspended civilians’ flights evacuation flights due to security concerns.
Via its Amaq news agency the Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP) claimed responsibility for taken control of the town of Palma after days of clashes with security forces. The ISCAP claimed they had killed at least 55 people, including a number of soldiers, civilians and several foreigners from Portugal, Spain, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Some reports suggest that at least 40 other foreigners remain unaccounted for. The militants destroyed telecommunication infrastructure and took control of buildings including factories and banks, including South Africa’s Standard Bank and Banco Internacional de Moçambique (BIM) and seized several vehicles.
Militants from the Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP) attacked the town of Palma, located in the northern Cabo Delgado province about 25 km/ 15 miles from the Total energy company construction camp for the gas extraction. The militants reportedly attacked the Amarula Hotel, banks, stores and barracks of the riot police in the town. Though the government claimed that its soldiers retook control of the town in the early hours of 25 March, witnesses reported of continues fighting in and around the town. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. The militant group is still controlling the nearby port city of Mocimboa da Praia which it captured in August 2020. The city was used as a transit point for goods and workers related to the gas projects. The recent attack occurred shortly after the French oil company Total announced plans to resume operations at the $60 billion liquified natural gas (LNG) project, located on the Afungi Peninsula in the same province. Operations at the project were suspended in January following several attacks near the facility.
MARCH 22, 2021
A disgruntled villager from the village of Mingjing located in the Panyu District of Guangdong province, blew himself up at a local government office in the provincial capital, Guangdong. The unnamed attacker, targeted local officials responsible for land use matters, over land-grabbing scheme in which 270 acres belonging to the villagers were confiscated, their homes demolished, and the land given to Shanghai developers for a project to attract tourists. At least five people, including the suicide bomber, were killed in the attack and five were injured.
FEBRUARY 17, 2021
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
At approximately 10:15 am local time, unidentified gunmen ambushed a U.N. convoy in the Nyiragongo area as it was travelling from Goma, the capital of North Kivu province to visit a World Food Programme (WFP) school feeding project in Rutshuru. Three people were killed in the attack, including the Italian ambassador to the DRC an Italian carabinieri--who guarded the ambassador-- and their local driver. The governor of North Kivu province told reporters that the assailants stopped the convoy by firing warning shots, then killed the driver and attempted to lead the Italians into a forest by the side of the road. Park rangers then opened fire, and the two were killed in the ensuing firefight. An unspecified number of people were also wounded in the attack. Though no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, the interior ministry blamed the attack on the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwandan Hutu rebel group active in the region for more than a quarter of a century. The group however denied the allegation. (rueters.com, 17 February 2021 & washingtonpost.com, 22 February 2021 & africanews.com, 23 February 2021)
FEBRUARY 01, 2021
A Qatari businessman and his friend from the Iskenderun district of Hatay province were kidnapped, before the local police rescued them in the city of Adna in the Adna province and arrested the gang that demanded a large ransom in return for their release. According to local media reports, the Turkish gang demanded a ransom of US$400,000 from the family of the businessman, who was kidnapped on February 1, and had already received half the amount by the time he was rescued. The gang moved the two to the city of Adna and reportedly threatened to transfer him to Syria if the rest of the ransom was not paid by the end of February. The police raided the gang’s safe house where the two victims were held and rescued them while arresting five 5 of the 9-member gang. A video clip published by the Turkish media showed the police raid, the arrest of the kidnappers and the seizure of their belongings, including identity cards, passports, and bank cards, as well as the weapons they used to kidnap the victims. The police returned the Qatari businessman and his friend to the Iskenderun area, in preparation for his return to Doha. (gulfnews.com, 7 February 2021)