The fight against Islamic State is moving to Africa

THEIR hair tightly braided, two young girls sleep head-to-toe in matching pink dresses with gold trim—a sight to gladden the heart were it not for the startling white bandages around their arms and legs. The beds in this ward are overflowing with patients, the rounded stumps of their amputated limbs pointing at the ceiling. Colour-coded tags hang near the door to sort casualties: red for the most urgent cases, black for those beyond help. They attest to the grim efficiency of the surgeons from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), gained from dealing with the unrelenting flow of bomb and gunshot victims. Their clinic is, perhaps, the only thing that works well in Maiduguri.

Nigeria’s main north-eastern city is at the centre of a series of jihadist campaigns stretching in two broad belts across Africa on either side of the Sahara. The northern one hugs the Mediterranean, from Egypt through Libya and Tunisia to Algeria. The southern one extends from Somalia and Kenya in the east…

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