Togo: Deadly explosion sees more violence erupt in north

By Jaysim Hanspal
Posted on Tuesday, 12 July 2022 18:05

West African soldiers from Togo arrive at Bamako's airport Thursday Jan. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

An explosion in Togo has killed seven children and injured another two in the village of Margba in the Tône prefecture of the country on Saturday night, the has army reported. In light of growing violent incidents, the government announced the opening of a new risk analysis unit to detect threats ahead of time.

Victims of the explosion are all said to be children between the ages of 14-18, said an anonymous hospital source at Dapaong Hospital. The children were said to be returning from the Eid al-Adha celebrations.

A local radio station quoted a parent of one of the victims saying he was shocked and heard “a loud explosion never heard before.”

In a statement by army chief Dadja Maganawe, he said: “An investigation is opened to clarify the circumstances of this explosion and identify the perpetrators.” They have not yet stated whether they think this is a jihadist-related attack.

An ongoing state of emergency

The border with Burkina Faso has always remained a hotspot for violence, with multiple terrorist attacks in recent months.

Burkina Faso which also faces frequent attacks from violent extremists has large swathes of land now occupied by various armed groups.

This violence has now drifted into Togo.

In May 2022, an attack by jihadists near the border with Burkina Faso killed eight soldiers and injured 13 at a security outpost in Kpekpakandi.

As a result, the government warned the people in the area against “unnecessary movements at night”, as they reminded citizens of the state of emergency that has been in place since last June.

The government announced on 11 July that it had set up a risk analysis unit, inaugurated on 5 July 2022 in Lomé. The unit will be the seventh set up in the region.

Translation from below: Against the threat from jihadists and from security deficiencies, #Togo has set itself up with a risk analysis unit that was inaugurated on 5 July 2022 in Lomé. Details in this link

In a video shared by the Togolese government on Twitter, the unit is sponsored by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).

Prioritise the search for a solution to our domestic political issues with the imperative of national reconciliation and by mobilising our resources to fight against poverty and high living costs.

Akseli Saviranta, project lead for the risk analysis unit, is confident in its ability to pick up on potential threats, despite the influx of recent attacks. He said: “Together we will form better data collections so we can check the nature of threats that face the West African region.”

Urgency for change

Many politicians and activists have implored for change after recent attacks have left those in the region tense. Politician and lawyer François Boko was particularly vocal after the May attacks.

“It is urgent to quickly readjust our diplomacy by taking a step back from sub-regional issues that have no real added value for our security,” he said.

“Prioritise the search for a solution to our domestic political issues with the imperative of national reconciliation and by mobilising our resources to fight against poverty and high living costs.”

Farida Bemba Nabourema, a pro-democracy activist and writer believes that a neglected youth in a country where they make up approximately two-fifths of the population is the main supply for radicalisation. She said, “These young kids have nothing to do – they are poor they don’t have resources, for them it is about survival. It is the radicalisation of the youth that will make the terrorism problem worse for us.”

In a country where 60% of the population lives below the poverty line, radicalisation can be a systemic issue. According to the Counter-Terrorism Preparedness Network (CTPN), unemployment, corruption and inequality can be “structural motivators” for radicalisation.

Nabourema warns that a lack of understanding of the complexities of radicalisation could be an issue in the government’s response. She said, “We have to ensure that the war on terror does not become the war against the poor. Especially in Togo where the militarised government cannot be held accountable. The transfer of massive weapons, but especially automated weapons into the hands of the government is only going to lead to more violence and human rights atrocities. We don’t deserve that at this point.”

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