(Reading time: 1 - 2 minutes)

Soldiers in Somalia
Although the army is combatting terrorism, the true battle is a spiritual one.

The Somalia-based terrorist group, al-Shabaab, has overtaken Nigeria's Boko Haram as Africa's deadliest militant group, according to new figures from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

The data, compiled by the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies, showed that al-Shabaab was responsible for 4,281 casualties in 2016, compared to 3,499 committed by Boko Haram. The third group on the list was the Islamic State militant group which was responsible for 2,350 deaths that year.

Al-Shabaab, which has ties to al-Qaeda, is largely operational in Somalia with some incursions in neighbouring Kenya. (To read last week's report on a recent incident in Kenya, click here.) The group was also responsible for a mass attack that took place in April 2015, tragically killing nearly 150 Christian students at Kenya's Garissa University. In 2013, the militants carried out a three-day siege, causing 67 fatalities at a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development declared al-Shabaab as a transnational security threat in the East Africa region last year. Additional reports on the terrorist group's persecution of Christians in Somalia are available here.

May the Lord respond to the cries of His people in Somalia, Kenya and Nigeria by mightily intervening on their behalf -- contending with their enemies and working out a plan of deliverance from the violence that's being perpetrated against them (Psalm 34:7). Pray that He will frustrate the evil plans of the terrorists, replace the hatred in their hearts with His overwhelming love, and bring many to conviction and repentance. In keeping with His Word, may He ultimately work all things together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28), also drawing many to Himself during this time of suffering and political uncertainty.