Insurgents have established bases in an important nature reserve spanning parts of Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. They pose a growing danger to local ecosystems and people living around the park. The three countries need to collaborate more closely to keep the threat at bay.
Low-level jihadist violence persisted notably in south east, and reports emerged of Arab tribesmen from Niger fighting in Sudan.
Sporadic violence from Boko Haram factions continued in Diffa region (south east). Suspected members of JAS faction of Boko Haram 9 June killed three Nigerian youths in Bosso department. Military vehicle 16 June hit explosive device likely planted by Islamic State West Africa Province militants near Chetima Wangou locality, Diffa department, leaving seven soldiers dead.
Mediation efforts made headway in Tillabery region (south west). Military around 3 June killed five suspected militants of Islamic State Sahel Province or al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) and arrested another eight in Tera department. Arab, Fulani, Djerma and Tuareg communities of Ouallam department 4 June signed peace agreement in Tondikiwindi village, committing to resolving differences peacefully and “forgive past acts”; deal was supported by national peacebuilding body Haute autorité à la consolidation de la paix, testifying to Niger’s multidimensional approach to insecurity relative to its neighbours.
In other important developments. In Agadez region (north), suspected bandits 9 June attacked Tchibarakaten gold mining site in Iferouane area; army repelled attack, killing three assailants and detaining another. Lt. Gen. Shams al-Din Kabbashi, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Sudanese Armed Forces, 9 June accused rival Rapid Support Forces of recruiting mercenaries from Arab tribes notably in Niger.
A spate of mass killings in Niger’s Tillabery region has raised the spectre of broader civil strife. Most worrying is the ethnic dimension to the crimes. Authorities should move quickly to prioritize civilian protection lest vigilantes take matters into their own hands.
In south-western Niger, organised banditry could reinforce mistrust between ethnic groups and foster insurgencies that jihadists could exploit. The Nigerien authorities should take action to remedy the injustices experienced by communities living off livestock, initiate intercommunal dialogues and better supervise fledgling self-defence groups.
Since 2013, when it sent troops to Mali, France has led international efforts to root out Islamist militancy from the Sahel. Yet the jihadist threat has grown. Paris and its partners should reorient their military-centred approach toward helping improve governance in the region.
Le Burkina Faso et le Niger se dirigent tous deux vers des élections générales. Rinaldo Depagne et Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim décryptent leurs enjeux et insistent sur la nécessité pour leurs vainqueurs de se pencher sur l’insécurité croissante dans les régions rurales, provoquée en grande partie par la présence de groupes jihadistes.
Crisis group's Sahel Senior Analyst Hannah Armstrong and Africa Deputy Program Director Dino Mahtani held a panel moderated by our Director for Africa Regional Advocacy Elissa Jobson, on the renewed spike in jihadist attacks in Niger’s Tillabery region and Niamey’s response to it.
L’analyste Hannah Armstrong regrette que Niamey délaisse le dialogue avec les communautés frontalières de la région de Tillabéri, notamment les nomades peuls.
Islamist militants are making further inroads into Tillabery, a region on Niger’s border with Mali. To fend off the threat, Niamey should supplement its counter-insurgency campaign with initiatives aimed at soothing communal tensions along the frontier and starting dialogue with locals in the jihadists’ orbit.
Au Niger, alors que le ramadan va débuter dans la soirée du 23 avril, les tensions autour de la fermeture des mosquées dans le contexte de la pandémie de Covid-19 s’accentuent. Le gouvernement devrait autoriser la réouverture des mosquées en la conditionnant au respect strict des règles sanitaires préconisées par l’OMS.
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