Jihadist terrorist groups, self-defense groups, traditional hunters, volunteers, state security forces, UN forces … The presence of weapons is increasing in the Sahel, and with it the instability that Burkinabs have suffered in recent years. Faso, Mali and West Niger, where the deaths are hundreds and the displaced and affected are millions.
In the West African region, an estimated 12 million illegal weapons are in the hands of the civilian population, both crafted and mainly used for hunting and industrial production. The famous AK-47 assault rifle is the favorite. In the Sahel region, 95 percent of assault rifles come from the famous Russian manufacturer.
“Groups classified as” terrorists “do not use artisanal weapons, but we cannot ignore these types of weapons,” emphasizes Georges Berghezan, an expert in the Peace and Security Research and Information Group (GRIP). “In addition to hunters, they are mainly used by community militias, city crime, highway robbers and cattle thieves,” he told RFI.
The fall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime in 2011 marked a turning point in the arrival of weapons in this area of the continent and in the following two years, according to Berghezan’s words, a “real flood” with anti-aircraft weapons, rocket launchers and light weapons of small caliber.