12 soldiers, ‘dozens of terrorists’ killed in Niger attack

At least 12 soldiers and “dozens of terrorists” have been killed in a battle in western Niger’s conflict-wracked “three borders” zone.
The defence ministry announced in a statement on Sunday that another eight soldiers were wounded in the clash with “hundreds of armed terrorists” five kilometres (three miles) from Fantio.
It added that several motorcycles used by the attackers were destroyed and communications equipment recovered.
Fantio is a small rural community in the Tera district of the Tillaberi region and is regularly targeted by armed groups affiliated with al-Qaeda or ISIL.
In May this year, five people from a village in the region were killed and two seriously wounded in an attack during the Muslim religious holiday of Eid al-Fitr, said the ministry.
In late June, two civilians, a school director and a retired police inspector were killed in another attack during which their killers also stole livestock.
As well as the attacks from armed groups such as ISIL in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) in the west of the country, Niger also has to contend with Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province in the southwest of the country, near the border with Nigeria.
The arid Sahel state is the world’s poorest country according to the United Nations (UN’s) Human Development Index.
A French military convoy heading to Mali has run into more trouble in a town in Niger after being delayed for more than a week by protests in Burkina Faso, with the Nigerien government reporting two deaths and 18 wounded.
The supply convoy, which arrived in Africa in Ivory Coast last week, had crossed Burkina Faso and on Friday entered Niger on its way to central Mali.
Its destination is a base at Gao, a hub of France’s Barkhane operation, which is shoring up allies in the Sahel region in the fight against armed groups that began in northern Mali nearly a decade ago.
But clashes reportedly broke out at Tera in western Niger on Saturday.
“The convoy of the French Barkhane force escorted by the national gendarmerie was blocked by very violent protesters in Tera in the Tillaberi region, where it had spent the night,” the interior ministry said in a statement. -AFP

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