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Africa urged to step up joint fight against terror

ADDIS ABABA – African governments were urged on Thursday to provide robust support to a regional body tasked with combating terrorism on the continent, and to share anti-terror information, diplomats said.

Boubacar Diarra, the head of the Algiers-ba

sed African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT), said African countries had made major strides in cooperating in the fight against terrorism.

A total of 39 African countries and five regional bodies had established centres through which information on terrorism could be disseminated, Diarra told a meeting of the African Union’s (AU) Peace and Security Council on terrorism in Africa.

“African states must play an active role to strengthen the capacity of ASCRT in combating and eliminating terrorism from the continent,” he said, and urged the remaining 15 AU members who had not set up the focal points do so without delay.

He did not name the countries. But he said ACSRT, which was established in 2002, was in the process of keeping a database, particularly on terrorist groups and their activities in Africa.

African countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco and Egypt have suffered terror attacks in recent years.

Some diplomats urged the AU to be more vocal in criticising the United States over the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, where it is holding people it suspects are linked to al Qaeda or Afghanistan’s Taliban.

The United States has come under sharp criticism from human rights groups and some of its allies for holding some 450 foreign suspects at the naval base in Cuba without charge.

“The African Union is silent about the inhuman and degrading treatment through which prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are undergoing in the name of fighting terrorism,” Dolo Abouagbe, Ivory Coast ambassador to the AU told the meeting.

“Guantanamo is a negation of human rights and I have not heard any reaction from the AU about it.” — Reuter

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