Niger: murderous attack by jihadists in the “three borders” area

It is one of the most deadly attacks committed in the so-called “three borders” area, a region where the territories of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger meet, without physical delimitation, and where jihadist groups operate.

More than sixty villagers members of self-defense militias were killed in Niger in an attack in the Tillabéri region, the scene since the beginning of the year of murderous actions by suspected jihadists. The attack occurred on Tuesday, but was not confirmed until Thursday, November 4 by the Nigerien government.

“Tuesday, November 2, 2021 (…) the mayor of the commune of Bani Bangou, traveling with a delegation of nationals of the said commune, was ambushed by unidentified armed bandits ”, writes the Ministry of the Interior in a press release.

“The provisional results of the attack (…) reports 69 deaths including the mayor [de Bani Bangou] and 15 survivors ”, adds the press release, which states that a “Search operation has been initiated in the area” to try to find the attackers. The government has decreed a national mourning of forty-eight hours from Friday.

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According to local sources interviewed by Agence France-Presse, the mayor of Bani Bangou killed in the attack was the head of “Vigilance committees” of several villages in the territory of his municipality. One of these sources said that 84 members of these committees traveling on motorcycles were targeted by “Elements of the EIGS [organisation Etat islamique dans le Grand Sahara] heavily armed “ also traveling by motorbike. The attack was not claimed and the attackers left “To Mali by taking the bodies of their combatants”, according to this source.

Multiplication of attacks in 2021

According to a former mayor of the region, villagers had recently formed self-defense committees to watch over peasants working in their fields regularly targeted by armed men. These committees had decided on Tuesday to track down to their hideout in Adab-Dab, about fifty kilometers from Bani Bangou, armed men who attack villages and steal cattle, he said.

Since the beginning of the year, jihadist groups have increased bloody attacks against civilians in the Bani Bangou area and neighboring municipalities in the Tillabéri region, killing hundreds.

The toll of this attack brings to more than 600 the number of people killed this year in raids against civilians in the border regions of southwestern Niger, more than five times the toll for the whole of 2020, according to the report. NGO Acled (Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project), which collects data on conflicts around the world.

On January 2, 2021, 100 people were killed in attacks on two villages in the region. In the region of Tahoua, near that of Tillabéri, 141 people were killed in March by suspected jihadists, in several hamlets and camps.

Tillabéri, a huge and unstable region of 100,000 square kilometers, is located in the “three borders” area between Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, the scene since 2017 of murderous actions by armed groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group. .

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Le Monde with AFP and Reuters

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Niger: murderous attack by jihadists in the “three borders” area

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