- The security forces were escorting a team to carry out voter registration in the District of Sanam, ahead of presidential and legislative elections due in late 2020.
- Dozens of people have been killed by armed groups in a series of attacks in the West African region in December.
- Burkina Faso has also been heavily affected.
Fourteen troops have been killed when heavily-armed terrorists ambushed a convoy in the western region of Tillaberi, Niger, the interior ministry said. “After a fierce battle . . . seven police and seven national guards were killed . . . a guard has been listed as missing.” The ministry added in a statement that “the enemy” suffered many losses, although it did not give details.
The security forces were escorting a team to carry out voter registration in the District of Sanam, ahead of presidential and legislative elections due in late 2020, the ministry said in a statement. However, team was secured and returned safely to Sanam. The poor, landlocked country in the heart of Sahel is on the front lines of jihadist attacks. Nigerien troops have been fighting several armed Islamist groups, including Boko Haram, on the southeast border with Nigeria, and armed groups allied with ISIS in the west, near Mali.
Dozens of people have been killed by armed groups in a series of attacks in the West African region in December. On December 10, Niger experienced the biggest blow, when 71 soldiers were killed in an ambush by militants on an army base. The tragedy forced the president, Mahamadou Issoufou, to cut short his trip in Egypt.
Following the attack, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, also postponed a summit that was scheduled for December 16 in Pau, France with the leaders of G5 Sahel. The meeting is due in early January. Despite the attacks, Macron vowed to give a new force to the fight armed groups in the Sahel states in West Africa. Currently over 4,500 French troops are in the region. The French operation has been ongoing since 2014.
Burkina Faso has also been heavily affected. More than 100 people have been killed in hostilities in the north in this week, according to officials. An attack on Wednesday left an army patrol with at least eleven soldiers dead near Hallale, in the north. A day before, some 35 civilians and seven soldiers were killed after an attack and exchanges of gunfire in the north of the country. The army said it had “neutralized” 80 attackers. On Thursday, the country was observing its second day of mourning after a wave of jihadist attacks in the north of the country left 42 dead, the worst one-day casualty attack since 2015.
A number of armed groups are active in the Sahel states, an area that extends south of the Sahara from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. Some of these groups have sworn allegiance to ISIL or al-Qaeda. Niger is part of a five-nation anti-jihadist task force, known as the G5 Sahel, that was set up in 2014. Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Chad are the others.