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Nigerien army claims to have killed 79 “terrorists” in the west of the country


A spectacular operation led the Niger army to kill 79 “terrorists” last week, announced Friday, March 24, the Ministry of Defense.

A pursuit was initiated after elements of the Nigerien anti-jihadist operation Almahaou were attacked on March 17 by a “armed terrorist group” in the Tiloa area, located in the department of Banibangou, bordering Mali. The pursuit, led by the air-land forces, led to the Hamakat area in Mali, the place of refuge of the presumed person responsible for the February 10 ambush in Intagamey, also in the department of Banibangou, the ministry said in its statement. weekly newsletter. At least seventeen Nigerien soldiers were killed during this ambush and twelve people are missing.

The ministry does not report any military casualties during the March 17 operation. The ranks of jihadists killed were not specified. The operation also allowed the destruction of a hundred motorcycles and means of communication, and to recover weapons and ammunition, specified the ministry. According to a security source contacted by Agence France-Presse, this pursuit into Malian territory is “unpublished”.

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Unstable area

The Intagamey ambush in February and the pursuit in Tiloa last week took place in the immense and unstable region of Tillabéri, covering an area of ​​100,000 km2, located in the so-called “three borders” zone on the borders of the Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali. A territory plagued by recurrent jihadist attacks. The Nigerien authorities have launched several large-scale operations there, particularly near the border with Mali, to fight against the jihadists, such as Operation Almahaou alongside which French soldiers are fighting.

In early March, Niger’s army chief of staff, General Salifou Mody, was received in Bamako by his Malian counterpart and by the president of the transition, Colonel Assimi Goïta. At the center of the discussions, “security cooperation” along the more than 800 km of border between the two countries, according to the Nigerien general staff.

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In its south-eastern part, neighboring Lake Chad and Nigeria, Niger must also face the jihadists of Boko Haram and its dissident branch, the Islamic State group in West Africa (Iswap).

The Nigerien army had already claimed to have killed last week “twenty terrorists” of the Boko Haram group, and captured 83 other suspected fighters, during an operation on the border with Nigeria. According to her, this operation was intended to “neutralize” the bases of the Iswap group, installed in the Matari forest in Nigeria, from where attacks against towns and military positions in Niger are planned, according to the bulletin of military operations in the Diffa region (south-east).

The World with AFP