In total, twelve soldiers died in western Niger on Thursday, September 28, as a result of a variety of circumstances related to an attack by suspected jihadists.
In the Tillabéri region, “a unit of Operation Almahaou [antidjihadiste] “The Nigerian Defense Minister, General Salifou Mody, who was appointed by the military regime as a result of a coup, announced in a press release that he was on a security mission in Kandaji and was violently attacked by several hundred terrorists.” Seven soldiers died “in combat,” he added.
“During the intervention” in response to this attack, “a tragic road accident occurred in which five of our brave soldiers were lost,” the press release continued. According to the document, seven people were injured and evacuated to a hospital.
The attackers’ motorcycles and weapons “were destroyed in the Tijiane area,” 20 km northeast of Ayorou, in the same region, the minister said. “A search operation is currently underway to locate the enemy,” he added.
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The generals in power are the result of a coup on July 26th. They overthrew elected President Mohamed Bazoum and justified their actions with the “deterioration of the security situation”. Niger, in the southeast, faces jihadist violence from Boko Haram and its opposition branch Iswap (Islamic State in West Africa). To the west, where the Tillabéri region lies, the same kind of violence is eroding the country in the so-called “three borders” zone between Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali. It is a hideout for Sahel jihadists linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
In mid-August, at least seventeen Nigerian soldiers were killed and twenty injured in an attack by suspected jihadists near the Niger-Burkina Faso border. This attack was the deadliest since the coup. According to the NGO Acled, the death toll from jihadist attacks in Niger has risen since the coup.
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The Nigerian military regime has demanded the departure of around 1,500 French soldiers staying on its soil as part of the anti-jihadist struggle. They should leave this Sahel country by the end of the year, according to Emmanuel Macron. The French president announced his resignation last week following a standoff between Paris and Niamey. The Nigerian regime responded to this decision that their withdrawal “must be determined within a negotiated framework.” The French ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itté, whose expulsion was ordered by the military regime and initially rejected by France, finally returned to Paris on Wednesday.
For its part, the United States, which has 1,100 troops stationed in Niger, has indicated it is reviewing its options regarding a possible withdrawal. The Nigerian generals are therefore looking for allies, for example in the neighboring countries of Mali and Burkina Faso, which are also led by soldiers who came to power in a coup. The three countries founded the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), a defense cooperation.
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