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Islamist Militants in West Africa Plan to Attack Ghana and Togo Next, Says Government

Ghana's immigration service released a memo stating that Ghana and Togo will be the next targets for Islamist fighters, following high-profile attacks this year in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.
Photo by Joe Penney/Reuters

Ghana and Togo will be the next targets for Islamist militants in West Africa following high-profile attacks this year in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, according to a memo from Ghana's immigration service.

The country's National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) reportedly received evidence from neighboring Ivory Coast through the interrogation of a man suspected of orchestrating the beach attack there on March 13 in which 18 people were killed.


"Intelligence gathered by the… NSCS indicates a possible terrorist attack on the country is real. … The choice of Ghana according to the report is to take away the perception that only Francophone countries are the target," said the memo, dated April 9 and published by Ghanaian media.

The memo calls for better border protection in the latest sign of a heightened government response to the threat to West Africa by militants based in northern Mali who have stepped up a campaign of violence in the last year.

It ordered immigration agents on the northern border with Burkina Faso to be extra vigilant and said patrols should be stepped up along informal routes between the two countries.

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Ghana is one of Africa's most stable and peaceful democracies and has not suffered an attack by Islamist militants. Togo is the country's eastern neighbor.

Ghanaian President John Mahama spoke about the memo in an interview on state radio's Sunrise FM on Thursday. He asked for public vigilance and said Ghana was also at risk from homegrown militants, while noting that countries in the region share intelligence on militant threats.

"We must deal with this without creating panic amongst our people," he said, adding that the memo should not have detailed the intelligence on which its calls for greater vigilance were based.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed responsibility for attacks on a hotel in the capital of Mali last November, a restaurant and hotel in Burkina Faso's capital in January, and the Ivory Coast attack in the resort town of Grand Bassam. In all, more than 65 people have died, many of them foreigners.

Following the March attack in Ivory Coast, AQIM put out a statement claiming responsibility. The group said the attack was revenge for a French offensive against Islamist militants in the Sahel region and called for the country to withdraw its forces from the country. The militants said the aim of the mission was to act as a warning for nations that have allied with French forces.

Thousands of French soldiers are posted in West Africa to bolster the fight against groups such as AQIM. The Islamist militant group is notorious for its role in the 2012 rebellion in northern Mali that saw it and several other groups fight alongside the ethnic Tuareg population for control of the region. French troops intervened and took back much of the territory.