ABOUT 11, 400 people have died in 2,200 terrorist attacks in West Africa in the last four years, with thousands injured and millions displaced into grave living conditions.
Director of Defence Intelligence of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), Brigadier General Nicholas Andoh who disclosed this in Accra yesterday said the activities of violent and extremist armed groups (VEAG) have increased in the region.
At the opening of a two-day meeting of West and North African directors of military intelligence, he said limited collaboration amongst intelligence agencies had restricted efforts to rein in on the groups.
Numbering more than 100, the high ranking military officers, drawn from 17 countries and their global partners, have converged for the first time, to devise a robust joint strategy to combat the scourge of terror threats.
The meeting was organised by the Department of Defence Intelligence and United States African Command in collaboration with GAF on the theme "Intelligence Support to operations to combating regional threats",
Brigadier General Andoh said the whole continent was saddled with complex transnational crimes committed both in the physical and cyber domain with far reaching implications for everyone.
Some of the crimes he said included illegal mining, lumbering and migration kidnappings money laundering, arms, narcotics and human trafficking, piracy illegal, unregulated, unreported fishing.
"It has become an urgent and moral imperative to go beyond our normal scope of work to a more integrated and collaborative approach to dealing with t encourage of violence unleashed," he said.
The Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul called on the directors to assess the effectiveness of current mechanism for fighting violent extremism and come up with more formidable ones.
Noting the need to improve effectiveness of peace support operations in parts of the continents, he commended ECOWAS for committing to contribute $1 billion to help fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
"The solutions to halt the spread of violent extremism, and to safeguard the territorial integrity of our countries, largely rest with us. I urge all countries in Africa to upgrade their intelligence capacities", he said.
The US Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie Sullivan noted that terror threats were not country specific adding that terrorist groups and individuals they radicalise were constantly learning and adapting new ways to exploit weaknesses.
"Borders have no meaning to these malign actors. That is why protecting our own individual countries requires protecting the entire region. It requires deidicated teamwork and partnership with one another," she said.
The US Africa Command Director of Intelligence, Rear Admiral Heidi Berg said issues to be discussed at the meeting include best intelligence practices for intelligence sharing, cyber security, open source and geospatial intelligence.