Great Seal logo Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1998

Africa Overview

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The murderous and near-simultaneous bombing attacks on the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 7 August 1998 caused more casualties than any other terrorist attack during the year. In Nairobi, where the US Embassy was located in a congested downtown area, the attack killed 291 persons and wounded about 5,000. The bombing in Dar es Salaam killed 10 persons and wounded 77.

These attacks clarified more than ever that terrorism is a global phenomenon. In the months since the bombings, evidence has emerged of terrorist networks involved in potential anti-US activity in a number of African nations.

In addition, state sponsors of terrorism, particularly Libya, are increasing significantly their activities in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In late April, National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) guerrillas kidnapped two Portuguese citizens from the commune of Ebangano. The two have not been found.

UNITA rebels fired on a United Nations Mission to Angola (MONUA) vehicle near Calandula on 19 May. The attack killed an Angolan official working for MONUA and wounded two foreigners.

On 23 March and 22 April, separatists from the Cabinda Liberation Front-Cabindan Armed Forces (FLEC-FAC) kidnapped three Portuguese citizens working for Mota and Company, a Portuguese construction firm. FLEC-FAC claimed it took the workers hostage to force Portugal to pressure the Angolan Government to leave Cabinda.

On 9 November more than 100 suspected UNITA rebels overran the Canadian-owned Yetwene diamond mine in eastern Angola, killing eight individuals-including two British nationals, one Portuguese, and five Angolans-and wounding at least 22 persons. The gunmen took four workers hostage: a South African, a British national, and two Filipinos.

Total Casualties Caused by International Attacks, 1998

Total International Attacks, 1998

Central African Republic
A small bomb detonated on 27 November outside the walls of the French Embassy, causing only minor damage.

On 3 February armed rebels of the Union of Democratic forces kidnapped four French citizens in Manda National Park. The four were released unharmed five days later. On 22 March a group calling itself the National Front for the Renewal of Chad took six French and two Italian nationals hostage in the Tibesti region. Chadian forces freed all but one hostage within hours. The militants announced they would not release the last hostage until all French troops and Western oil firms left Chad. Five days later Chadian security forces freed the last hostage.

Democratic Republic of Congo
On 12 August gunmen seized a tour group sightseeing along a nature trail in the Ruwenzori Range of western Congo. The tourists-one Canadian, two Swedes, and three New Zealanders-were abducted after they crossed from Uganda into the Congo. A previously unknown group, the People in Action for the Liberation of Rwanda, claimed responsibility for the abduction. Local authorities believe the gunmen are former Rwandan soldiers who fled to Congo after the former regime was forced from power in 1994. Two New Zealanders escaped one week later, and the Canadian was released on 19 August. The other victims still are missing.

On 25 February rebels of the Ogaden National Liberation Front took an Austrian national hostage as she traveled from Gode to Denan. She was released in mid-April after the rebels determined that she "was not a spy for the Ethiopian Government."

An Islamic group based in Somalia, al-Ittihad al-Islami, claimed responsibility for kidnapping six International Committee of the Red Cross workers in the eastern Ogaden region of Ethiopia on 25 June. Al-Ittihad said the abducted workers-one Swiss national and five ethnic Somalis-were spies. The six were released unharmed on 10 July even though al-Ittihad found them "guilty of conducting business outside of their duties."


Collapsed US embassy building in Nairobi, 7 August


Exterior US embassy in Dar es Salaam after bombing.

On 7 August a car bomb exploded behind the US Embassy, killing 291 persons and wounding about 5,000. The majority of the casualties were Kenyan citizens. Twelve US citizens died, and six were injured in the attack. A group calling itself the "Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places" immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks in Nairobi and a near-simultaneous explosion in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. US officials believe the group is a cover name used by Usama Bin Ladin' al-Qaida organization. Indictments were returned in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York charging Usama Bin Ladin and 11 other individuals for these and other terrorist acts against US citizens. At yearend, four of the indicted- Wadih El Hage, Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-Owhali, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, and Mohammed Sadeeck Odeh-were being held in New York, while Khalid al-Fawwaz remained in the United Kingdom pending extradition to the United States. The other suspects remain at large. The Government of Kenya cooperated closely with the United States in the criminal investigation of the bombing. On 20 August, President Clinton amended Executive Order 12947 to add Usama Bin Ladin and his key associates to the list of terrorists, thus blocking their US assets-including property and bank accounts-and prohibiting all US financial transactions with them.

On 11 November a mob of angry youths abducted eight Shell Oil workers in Bayelsa. The hostages included three US citizens, one British citizen, one Croatian, one Italian, one South African, and one Nigerian. The youths demanded jobs and economic development projects for their community. After talks with the oil firm, all eight hostages were released unharmed on 18 November.

Sierra Leone
Revolutionary United Front (RUF) militants commanded by S.A.F. Musakidnapped an Italian Catholic missionary from his residence in Kamalo on 15 November. In exchange for the hostage' release, Musa demanded medical supplies, a satellite phone, and contact with his family, who are being detained by regional peacekeeping forces in the capital. At yearend, talks between the RUF and the government were at a standstill.

South Africa
An explosion on 25 August in the entrance of the US-franchised Planet Hollywood restaurant in Cape Town killed one person and injured at least two dozen others, including nine British citizens. Muslims Against Global Opression (MAGO), a front organization for the Islamic radical groups People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD) and Qibla, initially claimed responsibility but then denied involvement. Local authorities believe that PAGAD members masterminded the attack in retaliation for the US bombings of terrorism-related targets in Sudan and Afghanistan.

PAGAD, a vigilante group that first appeared in August 1996, conducted a series of violent attacks against criminal elements and moderate Muslim leaders in Cape Town last year. Though police are investigating PAGAD members aggressively, none has been convicted for these crimes.

On 15 April militant Somali clansmen took nine foreign nationals hostage after their aircraft landed at a north Mogadishu airstrip. The hostages included one US citizen, a German, a Belgian, a Frenchman, a Norwegian, and two Swiss. The two pilots, a South African and a Kenyan, also were held. The clansmen demanded $100,000 ransom. The kidnappers released the hostages unharmed on 24 April without receiving any ransom, however, after the international community pressured the kidnappers' leaders.

Terrorists associated with Usama Bin Ladin' al-Qaida organization detonated an extremely large truck bomb outside the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam on 7 August, just as another truck bomb exploded outside the US Embassy in Nairobi. The blast killed 10 Tanzanians, including seven local Embassy employees, and injured 77 persons, including one US citizen. Tanzanian authorities cooperated closely with the United States in the criminal investigation of the bombing.

Unidentified assailants on 4 April detonated bombs at two downtown Kampala restaurants, the Nile Grill and the outdoor cafe at the Speke Hotel, killing five persons-including Swedish and Rwandan nationals-and wounding six others. The Ugandan Government suspects that Islamic militants of the Allied Democratic Forces are responsible.

On 8 July a United Nations World Food Program worker was killed when rebels of the Uganda National Rescue Front II fired a rocket-propelled grenade at his truck while he was driving in northwestern Uganda.

Rebels of the Lord' Resistance Army attacked a civilian convoy traveling along a major corridor in the north on 27 November, killing seven persons and wounding 28 others.

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