Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Dozens killed in West Niger attack by jihadists

Dozens of members of a self-defense militia have been killed in a jihadist attack in Niger’s volatile triangular border region with Burkina Faso and Mali, local sources told AFP on Thursday.

A source said the attack took place on Tuesday in the village of Adab-Dab, about 55 kilometers (32 miles) from Banibangou in the western region of Tilberi.

The source said a defense force riding a motorcycle was attacked by “heavily armed members of the ISGS (Islamic State in the Greater Sahara)”, who were also on motorbikes.

“There are about 60 dead, nine missing and 15 absconding. The mayor of Banibangou is among those killed and his body has been recovered,” said an MP from the West Tilberry region.

A security source said the attack happened at around 9:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) on Tuesday.

Another local source confirmed the death toll and said the target of the attack was a local anti-jihadist defense force called Vigilance Committees, led by the mayor of Banibangou district.

The source said the attackers returned to Mali with the bodies of their fighters.

A former mayor said the defense force was formed recently after locals attacked farm workers in remote areas by highly mobile jihadists.

On Tuesday, the militias went on a rampage to raid villages and hunt down armed men who stole cattle.

Niger, the world’s poorest country by United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) benchmarks, is facing jihadist insurgency along its western border with Mali and Burkina Faso and on its southeastern border with Nigeria.

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The western insurgency started with infiltration in 2015. Bloodshed escalated in 2017, with massacres perpetrated by groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State.

Human Rights Watch estimated in August that more than 420 civilians have been killed in western Niger since the start of the year. In one incident alone, 100 people were killed in attacks on villages on January 2.

In September, President Mohamed Bajoum, making his first visit to the region since being elected in February, said attacks on “unarmed innocent people” were a sign that jihadists were losing ground against forces.

But on 20 October, 11 members of the National Guard and a gendarme were killed in an ambush on the convoy of a regional prefect in Bankilare district.

The United Nations, meanwhile, has warned that the Tilberry region is facing a “major food crisis”, with some 600,000 people exposed to food insecurity.

The UN Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs office warned in a report sent to AFP last month: “This year is already uncertain of insecurity and repeated attacks by suspected elements of non-state armed groups targeting farmers and civilians.” There will be a serious impact on the food situation.”

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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