Africa in 2000 witnessed an increase in the number of terrorist attacks against foreigners or foreign interests--part of a growing trend in which the number of international terrorist incidents on the continent has risen steadily each year since 1995. Most attacks stemmed from internal civil unrest and spillover from regional wars as African rebel movements and opposition groups employed terrorism to further their political, social, or economic objectives. International terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, Lebanese Hizballah, and Egyptian terrorist groups, continued to operate in Africa during 2000 and to pose a threat to US interests there.
Angola continued to be plagued by the protracted civil war between the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the Angolan Government. Several international terrorist attacks originating in this conflict occurred in 2000, while throughout the year members of the separatist group the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) took hostage several foreigners in Cabinda Province.
Unidentified militants, suspected of being UNITA rebels, ambushed a vehicle near Soyo on 25 January and killed a Portuguese citizen. During May, UNITA rebels attacked two World Food Program convoys in northern Angola, killing one person and causing significant property damage. On 18 and 19 August, suspected UNITA fighters attacked two diamond mines in northeast Angola, killing nine South Africans and abducting seven Angolans.
Spillover from fighting in Sierra Leone resulted in several international terrorist acts in Guinea during 2000. Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels crossed the border into Guinea from Sierra Leone on 7 September and kidnapped two foreign Catholic priests who escaped their captors in early December. On 17 September suspected RUF rebels from Sierra Leone attacked and killed a Togolese United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees staff employee and kidnapped an Ivorian secretary.
During 2000 violence from the Angolan civil war spilled over into Namibia after Angolan Government troops were invited into border areas where Angolan National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) rebels had been active for 20 years. Clashes in the border area killed nine individuals, including several foreigners. Three French children were killed on 3 January in the Caprivi region of Namibia when their vehicle was attacked by uniformed armed men of unknown affiliation. The local police commissioner blamed UNITA rebels for the attack, but a UNITA spokesman denied any responsibility. In other attacks on vehicles, gunmen of unknown affiliation also wounded two French citizens, two Danish aid workers, and a Scottish citizen.
In January, a suspected threat from Algerian terrorists forced organizers to cancel the Niger stage of the Paris-Dakar Road Rally. Race officials bypassed Niger and airlifted competitors to Libya after receiving information that Islamic extremists based in Niger were planning a terrorist attack. No terrorist attacks occurred on the 11,000-kilometer race through Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, Libya, and Egypt.
In 2000, impoverished ethnic groups in the southern oil-producing region of Nigeria continued to kidnap local and foreign oil workers in an effort to acquire a greater share of Nigeria's oil wealth. (Abductions in the oil region are common, and hostages are rarely harmed.) Some 300 persons, including 54 foreigners, were abducted between April and July. The most serious kidnapping incident occurred on 31 July when armed youths attacked two oil drilling rigs and took 165 hostages, including seven US citizens and five Britons. All hostages were released unharmed on 4 August.
Sierra Leone's warring factions carried out more high-profile terrorist attacks against foreign interests in 2000 than in 1999, killing and kidnapping United Nations Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) peacekeepers, foreign journalists, and humanitarian aid workers.
The most violent attacks occurred in May when Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels resorted to terrorism in an effort to force out UN peacekeepers who had arrived to replace a regional peacekeeping force. In those attacks, RUF militiamen killed five UN peacekeepers and kidnapped some 500 others--most of whom were later released. The RUF also is believed responsible for shooting down a UN helicopter and killing two foreign journalists--including one US citizen--in May. Armed militants kidnapped two British aid workers on 9 May and released them a month later.
Sporadic terrorist attacks continued from June until August, resulting in the deaths of four more peacekeepers and the kidnapping of at least 30 additional UN troops. RUF fighters were responsible for most of the attacks.
According to the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, unidentified Somali gunmen on 30 March opened fire on a UN aircraft departing the port city of Kismaayo in southern Somalia. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, which resulted in no injuries and only minor damage to the aircraft. The UN responded by temporarily suspending humanitarian operations in Kismaayo.
Cape Town continued to experience a series of bombings and other acts of urban terrorism in 2000. Nine bombings resulted in some 30 injuries. Five of the nine attacks were car-bombings that targeted South African authorities, public places, and restaurants and nightclubs with Western associations. According to US Embassy reporting, the spate of bombings in 2000--the latest of several urban terrorism episodes that Cape Town has experienced since 1998--was distinguished by larger bombs triggered by more sophisticated remote detonation devices.
Damage from a car-bomb explosion in a suburban Cape Town shopping center parking lot in August. Two persons, including a 10-year-old boy, were injured.
South African authorities suspect that People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD)--South Africa's most militant Muslim organization--was responsible for most of the bombings. According to press reports, anonymous calls to news reporters demanding the release of PAGAD cadre preceded four of the bombings. One unidentified individual called a local radio station before a bombing on 29 August and gave precise details of the timing and location of the attack. In raids in November, police arrested several suspects affiliated with PAGAD and confiscated several pipe bombs. There were no bombings or incidents after the arrests.
The Sudanese-backed Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda and the Sudanese- and Congolese-supported Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in Western Uganda continued their insurgent campaigns to undermine the Ugandan Government in 2000--resulting in several terrorist attacks against foreign nationals. Suspected LRA rebels kidnapped two Italian missionaries on 4 March and released them unharmed several hours later. In October, LRA militants shot and killed another Italian priest as he drove to his church.
Government counterterrorist efforts initiated in 1999 helped prevent any major bombings during 2000 in the capital, Kampala. Islamist militants associated with the ADF are believed responsible for a series of deadly bombings and other urban terrorist incidents that occurred from 1997 to 1999.