One hundred and twenty ‘Terrorists’ have been “Neutralized” during a joint military operation, launched on 1st February by elements of the Nigerian armed forces and the French force Barkhane, in south-west Niger, announced Friday evening February 21, the Nigerien ministry of defense.
The operation took place in the north of the Tillabéri region, bordering Mali, the ministry said in a statement. “The balance sheet as of February 20 is as follows: on the friends side, there is no loss to be regretted, on the enemy side, 120 neutralized terrorists including 23 in the triangle Inatès, Tongo Tongo, Tilowa. Ten motorcycles and various equipment used to make improvised explosive devices and for observation were seized and destroyed ”, according to the text.
New security measures taken in Niger
“This joint operation is in line with the recommendations from the Pau summit”, said Nigerian Minister of Defense Issoufou Katambé, welcoming “Cooperation in the fight against terrorism”.
It’s in the Tillabéri region – a large unstable area of almost 100,000 km2 – that French President Emmanuel Macron and his G5 Sahel counterparts – Roch Marc Christian Kaboré (Burkina Faso), Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (Mali), Mohamed Ould El-Ghazaouani (Mauritania), Mahamadou Issoufou (Niger), Idriss Déby (Chad) – decided on 13 January in Pau, to coordinate more and to concentrate their military action by targeting as a priority the Islamic State in the Grand Sahara (EIGS).
In addition to the state of emergency in force for two years, the Nigerien authorities took new security measures at the beginning of January, such as a motorbike ban or the closing of markets, in an attempt to stem jihadist attacks in Tillabéri. Some 174 soldiers were killed there in December 2019 and January in three attacks including that of Inates (71 dead, December 10, 2019) and Chinégodar (89 died on January 8).
The entire Sahel – in particular Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso – is the target of increasingly daring attacks by Islamist groups, despite the strengthening of local armies and the presence of 4,500 French soldiers of the anti-terrorist force barkhane.
According to the United Nations, jihadist attacks in Mali, Niger and Burkina killed 4,000 people in 2019.