Terrorism and extremism weekly summary 3 - 9 April

Europe

On Monday, 3 April, a court in Düsseldorf, Germany imposed a life sentence on the man responsible for an attempted terrorist bombing with Islamist motives at the Bonn train station in 2012. According to experts, the bomb could have killed dozens of people but failed to detonate due to a technical defect. The convicted man, known as Marco G., was also, together with three other accomplices, accused of an attempted murder of the local leader of a radical right-wing organisation, and of establishing a terrorist group. The prosecutor described Marco G. and his accomplices as extremely dangerous people who could pose a serious security threat if set free.

On Friday 7 April, a 39-year-old Uzbek man rammed a truck into a crowd of people in Stockholm, Sweden, killing four people and injuring 15 more. Among the dead are two Swedes, a Belgian and a Brit. After driving the truck into pedestrians on the Drottninggatanshoppingn boulevard and trying to hit as many people as possible, the attacker lost control and crashed into the Åhléns City shopping centre and then fled into the crowd. According to recent information, a homemade explosive was found in the cabin of the truck. The suspect was reportedly denied asylum in December 2016 and was required to leave the country. He was subsequently detained the same day in the district of Märsta, north of central Stockholm, and confessed to committing the attack. His alleged accomplice was arrested as well.

On Sunday 9 April, police bomb experts detonated an unknown, possibly explosive device in the centre of Oslo, Norway, and arrested one suspect connected to the discovery. Details concerning the device are not yet known, but according to police representatives it is likely that it was an explosive, since the noise from the blast was louder than from standalone pyrotechnic charges. Circumstances regarding the detained suspects are still under investigation. Norwegian security forces are on alert after the Stockholm attack.

According to a report from Saturday, 8 April, the Basque separatist organization ETA has officially launched its disarmament by sending information to French police authorities regarding the locations of storehouses for weapons, ammunition and explosives. For almost 50 years, the organization has led an armed struggle to establish an independent Basque state in southwestern France and northern Spain which cost lives of nearly 800 people. In 2011 ETA agreed to a truce, but was not successfully forced to disarm until now. The disarmament will be supervised by an international committee, but the Spanish government has already reported that it does not trust the separatists to disarm completely, since there are still about hundred ETA members who refuse this move and intend to
continue the struggle for independence.

Russia and post-Soviet space

On Monday, 3 April, the St. Petersburg Metro became a target of a bomb attack that killed 14 people and injured 51. The explosion occurred inside a train moving between stations, a man of Russian nationality and Kyrgyz origin is suspected of the attack. On Wednesday, 5 April, police in St. Petersburg detained six people suspected of having links to the Islamic State (IS). The detainees are suspected of involvement in terrorist activities and are allegedly also recruiting new members for the IS. Connection with Monday's Metro attack is not yet proven.

A detonation of improvised explosives also occurred in Rostov-on-Don in Russia, with one person being injured. The incident happened while raids on suspects connected to the Metro attack took place in St. Petersburg. Police arrested three people at the blast site in Rostov, again with possible connections to the St. Petersburg attacker. Russia is the target of similar attacks mostly from the Chechen-Dagestani and Central Asian terrorist groups, which are also often linked to Islamists from the Middle East or South Asia.

On Thursday, 6 April, two attacks on local security forces occurred in Astrakhan, southern Russia, and four attackers and two members of the National Guard were subsequently killed in a shootout. The attackers previously committed a similar attack on Tuesday, April 4, and killed two police officers. On Saturday, 8 April, two policemen were killed by unknown gunmen in Malgobek in the autonomous republic of Ingushetia, which is part of the Russian Federation.

Middle East

On Sunday, 9 April, two bombings in Egypt's Alexandria and Tanta hit Coptic Christian churches, that were full of believers at the time. In Alexandria, a suicide attack killed 17 people and wounded 71, while in Tanta the explosive device killed at least 29 people and injured 35. Responsibility for both attacks was shortly after claimed by the Islamic State (IS). These bombings are a continuation of a series of violence conducted against Christian Copts. For example, in December 2016, a similar attack occurred in the Coptic Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo, where a suicide bomber killed 29 worshipers during a prayer. The Copts have often been the target of torture, rape and general discrimination, mostly from radical Muslims. Several more explosive devices were found in Alexandria and Marsa Matrouh. Egypt subsequently declared a three-month state of emergency.

About author: Redakce ESJ

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