A surge in violent attacks linked to Islamist groups in West Africa’s Sahel region reflects their growing capabilities and networking abilities, according to an international security conference report.

Three-quarters of battles with state security forces during 2018 were initiated by the groups, it said, according to extracts from the report, prepared for the annual Munich Security Conference and seen by Reuters on Friday.

It cited African Center for Strategic Studies data showing fatalities linked to Islamist militant activity more than doubled from 2017 to 1,082.

Read more: Reuters