West africa

Are we witnessing the birth of an African Islamic State?

On Monday, 13 soldiers were killed by the Islamic State in northeastern Nigeria. A week ago, just after midnight on Friday morning, a Boko Haram suicide bomber blew up 14 villagers in northern Cameroon. These attacks — passing us by, as they do, in a stream of news and information — are becoming increasingly common in the beleaguered states of West Africa.  At the end of last year, Islamists kidnapped 344 schoolboys in an apparent ransom attempt. While the raid saw a continuation of Boko Haram’s strategy (in 2014 the group kidnapped 276 schoolgirls, to global condemnation) it marked a change in the terror group’s ambitions. Previously the group had confined itself mainly