African leaders fear marches could be used by armed attacks (Reuters)

The French newspaper Le Monde reported that the marches have become a threat to their possible use in African wars, highlighting that armed groups have so far used only drones with reconnaissance functions.

The report revealed that the 2020 storming of the US-Kenyan military base by members of the Somali group al-Shabaab in Manda Bay, near the Kenyan-Somali border, was planned thanks to images collected using a reconnaissance drone.

West Africa has begun to use it regularly in Nigeria to monitor the outposts of the country's army, he said.

Robin Das, a researcher at the International Centre for Political Conflict and Terrorism Research in Singapore, said militant organizations are using these drones to conduct reconnaissance operations or to film propaganda videos, adding: "We have not yet observed offensive use similar to what we have seen in Syria and Iraq since 2016."

Imminent danger

The Le Monde report noted that "deadly drones", which IS has used extensively against the international coalition, take many forms.

It may have been recreational planes that have been turned into suicide drones after being attached to an improvised explosive device. They are also potentially commercial quad drones commonly used in civilian videography, but are capable of dropping explosives vertically.

The report quoted one European officer recently deployed to the Sahel as saying, "It is only a matter of time before these technologies are used on African soil."

"If they want to use this modus operandi, they must meet 3 conditions: control of sufficient space, have the technical skills to arm a drone, and benefit from external support," Ruben Das said.

According to Das, Somalia's al-Shabaab can develop this weapon quickly thanks to its links to al-Qaeda and smuggling routes.

The author talked about the online purchase and conversion of commercial drones capable of carrying explosive devices by local engineers, saying that it would cost about 3,<> euros.

Constant threat

The Chief of Staff of the Senegalese Air Force, Papa Souleymane Sarr, expressed fears that ordinary drones could be used in armed operations, and considered that "the intensive use of remote-controlled vehicles, made possible by the accessibility of technology and the high costs of its application, has become a real threat to any army, no matter how modern."

According to Wim Zwinenberg, a conflict and environmental researcher at the Dutch PAX Organization, the drones are so small and fast that radar does not detect them and is difficult to neutralize, so African countries are already investing in prevention systems.

The report talked about Ivory Coast, which will use systems to protect its infrastructure ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations, which kicks off on January 13, as well as monitor its northern borders.

But to limit the spread of this threat, African countries cannot count on any international resolution.

The Global Counterterrorism Forum simply advised countries to "develop tactical countermeasures and technical solutions" in the face of the marches.

According to Robin Das, "any terrorist attack with marches in Africa will have a devastating psychological impact on the civilian population because it will show the technological sophistication of a group and increase the threat it poses to a country."

Source : Le Monde