JACQUEVILLE, Ivory Coast – Ivory Coast and France on Thursday inaugurated a new counterterrorism academy in this West African country, intended to strengthen regional capacities to fight a growing Islamist threat.
The International Counterterrorism Academy (AILCT), on the outskirts of Abidjan, the commercial capital of Côte d’Ivoire, will include a school for civil servants, a training center for special forces and a research institute.
It comes as Côte d’Ivoire faces increasing attacks from jihadist groups based in northern Mali and Burkina Faso, who are trying to expand their reach into the Gulf of Guinea. A soldier was killed in an attack in northern Côte d’Ivoire this week.
“The questions put to us are clear: how to fight effectively against terrorist groups more mobile than ever … how to prevent them from importing their strategy here”, declared the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian during the opening of the academy.
“States in the region must intensify their military cooperation, security cooperation and judicial cooperation,” he said, adding that AILCT will help achieve this goal.
France has an anti-terrorism force of 5,100 men in the Sahel region, but according to two sources, French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce a reduction in his troops on Thursday.
Le Drian will travel to Burkina Faso on Friday, where at least 132 civilians were killed last week in the deadliest attack in years, bringing the number of people killed by suspected Islamists in the Sahel to more than 500 since January .