series of terror attacks on Friday, which claimed the lives of nearly 250 people, reignited fears about the growing influence of the radical Islamic State group.
The bloody attack on civilians in Tunisia, Syria, Kuwait, Somalia and France followed a call from the Islamic State to Muslims around the world to wage a “holy war” against “heathens” in the month of Ramadan – the annual period of fasting, prayer and giving to charity that is at the heart of the observance of Islam – which began last week.
The call to arms apparently led directly to attacks on Friday in:
Tunisia, in the tourist town of Sousse, where an armed attacker mowed down 38 holiday-makers on a beach at a hotel resort. Most victims were British tourists. Visitors from France and Germany were also killed in the attack.
The attacker was shot dead by police and the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
Kuwait City and the Syrian city of Kobane. A suicide bomber from Islamic State killed 27 people when he blew himself up in a mosque in Kuwait City, and the group killed at least 150 people in Kobane with assault rifles and missiles. These attacks show that Islamic State targets are not only westerners, but also Muslims who do not share the group’s radical beliefs.
Somalia, where 30 peacekeepers from Burundi were killed when the terrorist group al-Shabaab stormed an African Union military base in the south of the country with a car bomb and assault rifles.
Al-Shabaab indicated that, like the Islamic State, it will increase its attacks during Ramadan.
Lyon in France. Yassin Salhi (35) was arrested after he allegedly beheaded his boss and then caused an explosion at a gas plant outside the city.
The headless body of Salhi’s boss was found near the plant and his head was found a distance away on a pole bearing flags with Arabic inscriptions.
Beheadings occur regularly in regions in the Middle East, where the Islamic State has been enforcing its reign of terror for more than a year. Friday’s gruesome murder in France is regarded as the country’s first beheading linked to radical Islam.
Survivors of the attack in Tunisia spoke about how the attacker opened fire randomly on tourists sunbathing at the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel.
The Tunisian government confirmed that most of the victims were British. At the time of going to press yesterday, the British government was still planning its response to the attacks.
Meanwhile, the French government has placed the country on its highest alert for terror attacks.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack on the peacekeepers in Somalia in the strongest terms.
Professor Farid Esack, an expert on Islam at the University of Johannesburg’s department of religious studies, said the Islamic State and its local followers did not regard South Africa as a so-called enemy of Islam.
“Supporters of the Islamic State in South Africa have a romantic yearning for an independent Islamic state and will go to Syria to help the group achieve this objective. But there is no indication that they continue their radical activities in South Africa when they come back,” he said. – This article was compiled with help from Le Monde, BBC, CNN, The Guardian, Al Jazeera and AFP
TERROR AND CHAOS Police control the crowd while surrounding a man (front centre) suspected of being involved in the massacre at a beachside hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, on Friday CONNECTED Atul Gupta and his nephew were appointed as advisers by former Lesotho prime minister Tom Thabane
WRECKED Somali government forces assess the scene of a bomb attack