Togo’s security forces on Thursday carried out a simulated jihadist attack in the capital Lome, training to counter a hostage-taking as the country faces increasing threats.
Togo and neighboring West African coastal states like Ghana, Benin, and Ivory Coast are preparing for growing spillover from Islamist militant conflicts across their northern borders in Niger and Burkina Faso.
On Thursday, a restaurant called “Noudoudou-a-gnon” in Lome’s Adidogome district was attacked by a “commando” of police disguised as six heavily armed militants, who opened fire and took hostages.
Two instructors from the French National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN) oversaw the exercise.
It was the first simulation exercise since Togo recorded the first in a series of attacks from November 2021, and at least four more since then in its far northern border region.
Togo’s Security Minister General Damehame Yark said the exercise was part of “measures so that we can face this threat” in the region.
The exercise is part of a training course in “specialised intervention techniques.” It also used a gendarme drone unit to help “neutralise” the militants and free the hostages.
The country was hit in mid-July by a bloody attack carried out by “unidentified armed individuals,” according to the army, which reported “several dead and a few wounded.”
The government last month extended a state of emergency for six months in its northern Savanes region, allowing more flexibility to conduct military operations there.
Togo’s first deadly jihadist attack was in May 2022.
In neighboring Benin, the first known fatal attack was last December, when two soldiers were killed near the border with Burkina Faso.
In Ivory Coast, four members of the security forces died in 2021, after 14 in 2020.