Niger falls into instability

Three days of national mourning for the hundred Nigerien villagers killed on Saturday January 2. This is the measure of the order of the symbol that the exceptional national security council decided on Monday, headed by the head of state, Mahamadou Issoufou. “This massacre, the largest in number perpetrated on our soil, consecrates the bankruptcy of the State which does not have the power to ensure the security of its citizens”, affirms from Niamey, Ali Idrissa of the network of organizations for transparency and budget analysis (Rotad).

“A hundred motorcycles”

The jihadists came aboard a “Hundred motorcycles” in the villages of Tchoma Bangou and Zaroumadereye, according to the mayor of the municipality of Tondikiwindi who administers them. The two villages are located 120 kilometers north of Niamey, in the Tillabéri region, bordering Mali and Burkina Faso. This region known as “the three borders” has been regularly targeted for years by jihadist groups. Tuesday, January 5, the attack had not been claimed.

In Paris, as in Niamey, no one dared to point out one culprit rather than another. The Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), a jihadist alliance affiliated with Al-Qaida, has proclaimed its innocence on the Internet. GSIM claims that its “Jihad” is not turned against its people and promises retaliation in the short or long term. An implicit threat to its rival in the region, the Islamic State group in the greater Sahara (EIGS), which it has been facing violently for a few months.

On the other hand, the GSIM claimed responsibility on Tuesday January 5 for the attack which cost the lives of two French soldiers – Sergeant Yvonne Huynh and Brigadier Loïc Risser – Saturday January 2 in Mali. Since the release by the Malian authorities of 200 jihadists from the GSIM in exchange for four hostages, including the opponent Soumaïla Cissé and Sophie Pétronin, “The French army focused its offensive on this organization rather than on EIGS. It is also a way for France to show that it does not agree to negotiate with this organization as the Malian government has undertaken to do. This may explain the renewed violence of GSIM towards her ”, explains Caroline Roussy, at Iris.

The possibility of reprisals against village militias

As for the Nigerien villagers killed, in this same area of ​​the three borders, they may have been the victims of reprisals linked to banditry. “A village is set on fire where the inhabitants have decided to organize themselves into a militia to defend themselves against groups who want to ransom them. This is what happens in Nigeria regularly against the terrorists of Boko Haram ”, analyzes a terrorism expert based in West Africa.

Other scenarios are possible. Near the border with Mali, communities have joined forces with armed groups and provide them with information on the movements of the army. In this same area, Hassan Boukar, member of alternatives civic space, documented “In a report by the national human rights commission the massacre of dozens of villagers by Nigerien security forces, uncovering mass graves. “

“How did the foreign armies not spot these motorcycles?” “

Jihadism, military exactions, banditry, “Niger cracks damn”, summarizes the expert on terrorism. “Both on the border with Nigeria, as well as that with Burkina Faso or west of Niamey. “ Villagers are fleeing instability and are regrouping in urban centers. The circulation of motorcycles has been banned in some areas, such as the one where the massacre of villagers took place on Saturday. Ali Idrissa is surprised “How have the American armies stationed in the region or the French one present at the airport, with the means at their disposal, not been able to identify these movements of motorcycles? “

In the campaign and well placed for the second round of the presidential election, Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate of power, has promised : “We will strengthen the internal security forces to fight against these terrorists. Often it is a group on one or two motorcycles which ransom the population under the pretext of zakat (compulsory Islamic tax or alms) on the cattle, rather than a major threat ”.

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Boko Haram and Daesh carried out the latest attacks

June 3, 2016. Twenty-six soldiers are killed in a Boko Haram attack in Bosso (south-eastern Niger).

October 4, 2017. Four American special forces soldiers and five Nigerien soldiers are killed near the Malian border in an attack claimed by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) group, affiliated with Daesh.

December 10, 2019 and January 9, 2020. Two EIGS attacks against the military camp of Inates and then Chinégodar, in the west of the country, kill 160 people.

August 9, 2020. Six young French people from the humanitarian NGO Acted are killed with their driver and their Nigerian guide in Kouré, by EIGS.

December 13, 2020. Boko Haram kills 34 people in Toumour, in the south-east.

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