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Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1997

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Africa Overview



Ongoing civil war and ethnic violence in some regions of Africa continued to overshadow individual incidents of terrorism. During 1997, 11 international terrorist incidents occurred in Africa, the same number as the previous year. The methods used in the incidents were varied, and the targets included aid workers, UN personnel on humanitarian missions in war-torn countries, and expatriate workers.


On 8 February separatists from the Cabinda Liberation Front-Cabindan Armed Forces (FLEC-FAC) kidnapped a Malaysian citizen and a Filipino forest engineer in Cabinda. The group charged the two with spying for the Angolan Government and said they would be punished according to revolutionary law, either by expulsion or death. FLEC-FAC also issued an ultimatum to Western companies to leave the Cabinda enclave or become targets in the guerrilla struggle for independence.


On 10 February two unidentified men tossed grenades into the Belaneh Hotel in Harer, wounding three Britons, one German, one Dutch national, and one French citizen. The attackers also killed a security officer at the hotel and wounded one other person. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

In the Bale Zone of southern Oromiya, 10 armed men on 28 March stopped a private vehicle occupied by a Danish nurse from the Danish Ethiopian Mission and kidnapped her. The nurse's body was found on 3 April.


On 13 December angry villagers and employees of Western Geophysical, a US-owned oil exploration company, kidnapped one US citizen, one Australian, two Britons, and at least nine Nigerian employees of the firm. The victims were held hostage on a barge off the coast of Nigeria. All hostages were released unharmed by 18 December.

On 22 March armed members of the Ijaw community, protesting the redrawing of regional government boundaries, occupied Shell Oil buildings in the Niger Delta and held hostage 127 Nigerian employees of the Anglo-Dutch-owned Shell Oil Company. The protesters released 18 hostages on 25 March and the remaining 109 on 27 March. Three of the hostages were injured.


On 18 January armed Hutu militants attacked the Medicos del Mundo compound in Ruhengeri, killing three Spanish aid workers and injuring one US citizen aid worker.

On 2 February an unidentified gunman entered a church in Ruhengeri Prefecture and killed a Canadian priest as he served communion. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

On 4 February suspected Hutu militants in Cyangugu Prefecture killed five members of the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda. The attackers used firearms, grenades, and machetes to kill one Briton, one Cambodian, and three Rwandans.


On 21 November in Elayo village in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, some 20 unidentified gunmen kidnapped five UN and European aid workers. The hostages--one Briton, one Canadian, two Kenyans, and one Indian--were released unharmed on 24 November.

South Africa

On 5 January a bomb exploded at a mosque in Rustenburg, injuring a Sudanese citizen and one South African. The Boere Aanvals Troepe claimed responsibility for the attack.


On 31 October unknown assailants hurled two handgrenades into a tourist hostel in Kampala, injuring one South African, one Briton, and one unidentified foreign tourist.

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