Niger Republic Makes Record Cocaine Seizure, Arrests Mayor

Seized cocaine is seen on a table at the premises of the Central Office for the Repression of Illicit Drug Trafficking (Octris) in Niamey on January 5, 2022. BOUREIMA HAMA / AFP
Seized cocaine is seen on a table at the premises of the Central Office for the Repression of Illicit Drug Trafficking (Octris) in Niamey on January 5, 2022. BOUREIMA HAMA / AFP

 

Police in Niger said Wednesday they had seized a record 214 kilogrammes (471 pounds) of cocaine in the country’s northern desert and arrested a local mayor and his driver as they allegedly tried to drive to Libya with the haul.

The drug, as well as the two suspects and their vehicle, were brought before the press in Niamey by the Sahel nation’s drug agency OCRTIS after the operation on Sunday.

Police following the trail of a quantity of drugs smuggled in from Mali found 214.6 kilos of cocaine in a municipal car from Fachi, whose mayor was also aboard, OCRTIS spokeswoman Nana Aichatou Ousmane Bako said.

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The car was heading to Dirkou, which lies close to the border with Libya, she said.

“It’s the first time that our country has seized such a big quantity of cocaine,” she said, adding that the drugs’ final destination was Europe, where it had an estimated street value of more than $19 million (nearly 17 million euros).

Fachi is an oasis in the heart of the Tenere desert, located more than 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) from the capital Niamey and 450 kms from Agadez, the biggest town in Niger’s remote desert north.

The main industries in Fachi are trading in salt and dates.

Drug seizures have become frequent in Niger’s north, which has gained a reputation for multiple types of trafficking, including gun-running and migrant smuggling.

AFP

Banditry: Matawalle Meets Niger Republic President Mohamed Bazoum

A photo combination of Matawalle and the Niger Republic President Mohamed Bazoum

 

Governor of Zamfara State, Dr. Bello Matawalle, visited the President of Niger Republic, Mohamed Bazoum, on Monday as part of efforts to end all forms of armed banditry in Nigeria and the Niger Republic.

According to a statement by his spokesman, Jamilu Magaji, the two leaders met at the Presidential Palace, Niamey.

The meeting was meant to discuss issues of insecurity especially in northwest Nigeria and the Niger Republic and resolved to explore more areas of support and cooperation between the Niger Republic and Zamfara State in particular.

Governor Matawalle, who expressed delight to the president of the Niger Republic Mohamed Bazoum for the opportunity given to him and Zamfara State Government to discuss issues of security, especially kidnapping, cattle rustling, and armed banditry in the Maradi region and parts of Zamfara, Katsina, and Sokoto states, briefed President Bazoum on the measures taken by his administration to end all forms of criminal activities in the region.

READ ALSO: Burkina Faso, Niger Republic Say 100 ‘Terrorists’ Killed In Joint Operation

The governor said apart from the peace initiative and reconciliation process he started, his administration has provided intelligence to security agents on how best to trace informants who provide information to the armed bandits and their collaborators.

He explained that his administration has placed CCTV cameras that will monitor the activities and movements of people in the state capital with the aim of tracking and tracing criminal hideouts and their nefarious activities.

Matawalle also said his administration will donate five brand new Hilux vehicles to the Government of Niger Republic to provide special border patrol at Maradi and other parts of Niger Republic which share border with Zamfara, Katsina, and Sokoto states.

The governor noted that the brand new vehicles will be handed over to the Governor of Maradi Region in a ceremony to hold later.

He requested a regular meeting on security with the Nigerien Minister of Defence, the Governor of Maradi, and the Governor of Zamfara State, as well as those of Katsina and Sokoto, states, in a bid to end the lingering security challenges facing the two countries.

Responding, President Bazoum thanked Matawalle for the visit and all major efforts he has taken to end the insecurity affecting the two countries, especially within the border of Maradi and North-Western Nigeria.

Bazoum urged the governor to continue with the efforts taken to address insecurity in Zamfara by providing new methods to achieve the sustenance of peace already enjoyed in the region, pointing out that the Government of Niger Republic is ever ready to support Zamfara State in the fight against insecurity.

He also requested that Nigerian governors implement a total ban on the importation of motorcycles into Nigeria.

The president noted that the problem of armed banditry across the Niger Republic is coming from Madawa and Bayan Dutsi and escalated to Nigeria through the Region of Maradi.

He hoped that with the meeting and support provided to the Nigerien government by Governor Matawalle, the issue will be a thing of the past.

The meeting was attended by the Ministers of Defence and Internal Affairs of the Niger Republic, the Chief of Staff to President Mohamed Bazoum, the Service Chiefs of the Republic of Niger, and the country’s Inspector General of Police.

Accompanying Governor Matawalle were Senator Sahabi Yau Kaura, Representing Zamfara North Senatorial District; Hon member Representing Gummi/Bukkuyum Federal Constituency in the Federal House of Representatives, Engineer Suleiman Abubakar Mahmoud Gummi, Principal Private Secretary to the Governor, Lawal Umar Maradun, and some principal officers in the state.

Burkina Faso, Niger Republic Say 100 ‘Terrorists’ Killed In Joint Operation

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa that covers an area of around 274,200 square kilometres and is bordered by Mali to the northwest, Niger to the northeast, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and the Ivory Coast to the southwest.
Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa that covers an area of around 274,200 square kilometres and is bordered by Mali to the northwest, Niger to the northeast, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and the Ivory Coast to the southwest.

 

The armies of Burkina Faso and neighbouring Niger said Thursday they had killed around 100 “terrorists” in a joint military operation against jihadists on the border between November 25 and December 9.

The operation managed to “neutralise around 100 terrorists” and “detain around 20 suspicious individuals”, they said in a joint statement.

They had also dismantled two bases, one in Kokoloukou in western Niger and another in Yeritagui in eastern Burkina Faso.

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Four Burkinabe soldiers also lost their lives in a roadside bomb attack, it added.

Both sides deployed foot soldiers, as well as “surveillance and combat aircraft” during the operation, whose headquarters are in the town of Tillaberi in western Niger.

Tillaberi is located in the so-called tri-border area — a flashpoint zone where the frontiers of Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali converge.

Groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State group have plagued the Sahel region since 2015.

AFP

Dozens Dead In Niger Republic Attack

Flag of Niger Republic

 

A jihadist attack in Niger’s volatile “tri-border” zone with Burkina Faso and Mali has killed dozens of members of a self-defence militia, local sources told AFP on Thursday.

The assault took place on Tuesday at Adab-Dab, a village about 55 kilometres (32 miles) from Banibangou in the western region of Tillaberi, a source said.

A motorcycle-borne defence force was attacked by “heavily-armed members of the ISGS (Islamic State in the Greater Sahara,” who were also on motorbikes, the source said.

“In all, there are about 60 dead, nine missing and 15 escaped. The mayor of Banibangou is among those who were killed and his body has been recovered,” an MP in the western Tillaberi area said.

A security source said the attack occurred “on Tuesday at around 9.30 am” (0830 GMT).

Another local source confirmed the death toll and said the target of the attack was a local anti-jihadist defence force called the Vigilance Committees, which was headed by the mayor of Banibangou district.

The assailants headed off back to Mali “taking the bodies of their fighters with them”, the source said.

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The defence force had recently been set up by local people following a string of attacks on farm workers in remote fields by highly mobile jihadists, a former mayor said.

The militia had set off for Adab-Dab on Tuesday to hunt for armed men who had been attacking villages and stealing cattle.

The world’s poorest country by the benchmark of the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI), Niger is facing jihadist insurgencies both on its western border with Mali and Burkina Faso and on its southeastern frontier with Nigeria.

The western insurgency began with incursions in 2015. The bloodshed escalated in 2017, with massacres carried out by groups affiliated to al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State.

Human Rights Watch estimated in August that more than 420 civilians had been killed since the start of the year in western Niger. In one incident alone, 100 people were killed in attacks on villages on January 2.

In September, President Mohamed Bazoum, making his first visit to the region since being elected in February, said the attacks on “unarmed innocent people” were a sign the jihadists were losing ground against the army.

But on October 20, 11 members of the National Guard and a gendarme were killed in an ambush on a regional prefect’s motorcade in the Bankilare district.

The United Nations has meanwhile warned that the Tillaberi region is facing a “major food crisis”, with almost 600,000 people exposed to food insecurity.

“Insecurity and recurrent attacks by suspected elements of non-state armed groups targeting farmers and civilians will have serious repercussions this year on the already precarious food situation,” the UN Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs office warned in a report sent to AFP last month.

AFP

Trafficking: 22 Libya-Bound Nigerians Rescued In Niger Republic

The crest of the Nigeria Police Force crest is on a police officer’s uniform. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

Twenty-two trafficked persons bound for Tripoli, Libya have been rescued in Niger Republic.

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in Sokoto revealed this on Tuesday.

Addressing journalists at the NAPTIP Zonal Command in Sokoto, Zonal Commander Abubakar Bashiru said the victims were between the ages of 15 to 20 years.

READ ALSO: Eight Persons Abducted In Zamfara Regain Freedom

He said the victims, mostly from the southern part of Nigeria, were intercepted in Niger Republic and repatriated to Nigeria by the Nigerian police who then handed them over to the officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service at the Illela border.

Mr. Bashiru said the victims were handed over to NAPTIP by the officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service at the Illela border.

He said NAPTIP has commenced investigation to find out the culprit responsible for the heinous crime against the victims.

He also expressed sadness that despite sensitizing the public against the danger of trafficking, parents of some of the victims in trafficking cases are always accomplices in committing the crime.

Boko Haram Kills 16 Soldiers In Niger Republic

Flag of Niger Republic

 

 

 

An attack by hundreds of Boko Haram fighters on a town in Niger’s jihadist-plagued southeast killed 16 soldiers and wounded nine others, Defence Minister Alkassoum Indatou told AFP on Wednesday.

In the assault late on Tuesday  “the positions of our defence and security forces in Baroua, in the Diffa region, were attacked by several hundred Boko Haram elements who came from Lake Chad”, the minister said in a statement.

Nigerien soldiers “neutralised around 50 terrorists” and “secured a large quantity of arms and ammunition”, he added.

Around 6,000 people had returned to the Baroua area in June after fleeing jihadist attacks in 2015.

Authorities had said that 19 villages like Baroua where more than 26,000 had returned recently were under “reinforced” protection — although Diffa governor Issa Lemine also hailed the “positive development of the security situation” as he welcomed returnees.

Those who fled had been living in safer villages, UN camps or with relatives elsewhere in the region.

Around 300,000 displaced people from Niger or neighbouring Nigeria have found shelter in the Diffa region from jihadist groups like Boko Haram and the Islamic State group affiliate ISWAP, according to the UN.

Earlier this month, Niger said it would build an airbase there to step up its anti-jihadist fight.

But it must also contend with jihadists who commit regular bloody attacks in the wider Sahel region stretching across the southern fringes of the Sahara, including the IS affiliate ISGS.

On August 16 at least 37 civilians including women and children were killed in an attack on a village by attackers who arrived on motorbikes.

Two weeks before, 15 soldiers were killed in an ambush.

Flood Death Toll Rises To 64 In Niger Republic

Carrying personal belonging away from flooded areas in Niamey anyway they can. (Credit: OCHA/Franck Kuwonu)

 

 

Heavy rains that have lashed the Niger Republic since June have claimed 64 lives, authorities said on Saturday, as floods and landslides hit the West African country normally used to drought.

In a statement read out on national television, Niger’s cabinet said 32 people had died when their buildings collapsed, and another 32 drowned.

The floods and landslides had affected close to 70,000 people in total, the statement said, with more than 5,000 houses destroyed or damaged.

The worst-affected regions are Maradi in the south, Agadez in the Sahara desert, and the capital Niamey.

Cholera is spreading as a result, killing 16 people so far, the health ministry warned.

Niger’s rainy season normally lasts three to four months, from June to August or September.

But it has been particularly deadly over the past few years, including in northern desert regions, in a country where crop failures are normally attributed to drought.

In 2020, floods caused 73 deaths and created a humanitarian crisis with 2.2 million people needing help, according to the United Nations.

Flooding: Buhari Commiserates With Niger Republic

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has extended his sympathy to the government of Niger Republic over recent flooding in the neighboring country.

According to a statement signed by presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu, the President described the losses from the flooding as vast and disturbing.

“President Muhammadu Buhari condoles with President Mohammed Bazoum, government and people of Niger Republic over devastating floods that have left many dead and affected homes,” the statement said.

“President Buhari says losses reported from Niger Republic in the last two days were very vast and disturbing, while also taking note of flooding in many parts of the world, including some states in Nigeria.

“The President affirms that natural disasters are symptoms of climate change which all countries, including Nigeria, have committed to taking measures to prevent the adverse effects.

“President Buhari prays for all the departed souls and affected families.”

49 Killed In Niger Republic Armed Attack

Niger Republic map.

 

Five civilians, four soldiers and 40 armed attackers were killed Sunday in a clash in Niger’s restive southwest region near the border with Mali, the government said.

Around 100 heavily armed “terrorists” riding motorcycles attacked the Tchoma Bangou village, striking around 3 pm Sunday, Niger’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement read on public television that did not identify who it suspected was behind the latest deadly incident.

The “prompt and vigorous reaction” by the Defense and Security Forces (FDS), “made it possible to repel the attack and inflict heavy losses on the enemy”, the ministry said, adding that its soldiers had seized motorcycles and a cache of weapons, including AK47s and machine guns, from the assailants.

Tchoma Bangou is located in the Tillaberi region, bordering Mali and Burkina Faso, an area known as “the three borders” that has been regularly targeted by jihadist groups.

Tillaberi has been under a state of emergency since 2017. The authorities have banned motorbike traffic night and day for a year and ordered the closure of certain markets suspected of supplying “terrorists”.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Niger has for years battled jihadist insurgencies on its southwestern flank with Mali, as well as Boko Haram on its southeastern border with Nigeria. The repeated attacks have claimed hundreds of lives and forced thousands to flee their homes.

In January, 70 civilians were killed by gunmen in Tchoma Bangou and 30 in the neighbouring village of Zaroumadareye.

Last month, 19 people were killed in villages in the same commune, according to officials.

According to United Nations estimates, there are more than 300,000 internally displaced people in Niger, many of whom fled terrorist violence that has escalated since 2015.

AFP

Niger Sets Goal Of Returning 130,000 Nigerian Refugees By Year-End

Niger’s president Mohamed Bazoum leaves the polling station after casting his ballot in Niamey on December 27, 2020 during Niger’s presidential and legislative elections. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

Niger and the state of Borno in neighbouring Nigeria have struck a deal for the return this year of more than 130,000 Nigerian refugees, Niger’s president Mohamed Bazoum said Friday.

“We have set a deadline of the month of November-December for all the refugees from Nigeria who are in the Diffa region (of southeast Niger) to return home, it’s more than 130,000 people,” Bazoum told reporters on the sidelines of a G5 Sahel summit in Paris.

Niger hosts tens of thousands of people who have fled from northeast Nigeria, where Boko Haram Islamists launched a bloody campaign a dozen years ago.

Borno has borne the brunt of the conflict, which has killed around 40,000 people and displaced more than two million.

Its authorities are already trying, with limited success, to encourage internally-displaced people in Borno to return to their homes.

NIger is also fighting jihadist incursions on two fronts — on its western border with Mali and in its southeastern border with Nigeria, in the vast Lake Chad area.

The Diffa region is home to 300,000 Nigerian refugees and displaced people, according to the UN.

The landlocked Sahel state is the world’s poorest country, according to the UN’s Human Development Index.

AFP

Thirteen Jihadists, Four Civilians Killed In Niger – Military

 

 

Thirteen Boko Haram fighters have been killed in clashes in southeast Niger while four civilians have been executed by the jihadists, a mixed African military force said Thursday.

Boko Haram fighters aboard ten vehicles sprang an ambush on soldiers on Tuesday evening along the road between Diffa and Maine Soroa, the Mixed Multinational Force (FMM) said in a statement.

“This attack was foiled thanks to the bravery of our ground and air forces,” said the FMM, which is made up of soldiers from Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

Before the attack, the assailants intercepted a bus transporting passengers and attacked “peaceful villagers,” it said.

“Four civilians were executed by the enemy,” including the bus driver, two villagers and a village chief, the MMF said.

It added that six soldiers and two female civilians were wounded.

“On the enemy’s side, thirteen terrorists were neutralised,” it said, using a term indicating they were killed.

The force seized one enemy vehicle, four AK-47 rifles and large quantities of munitions.

Jihadists in Niger have since May increased attacks in the region bordering Lake Chad and against Diffa, its large city.

Rated the poorest country in the world under the UN’s Human Development Index, Niger is battling jihadist insurgences on its southwestern flank with Mali and on its southeastern border with Nigeria.

Last month, nearly 6,000 people who fled jihadist violence in 2015 returned home to the troubled Diffa region.

Diffa is home to 300,000 refugees and internally displaced people who have fled attacks by the Nigeria-based Boko Haram and its breakaway faction Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), according to the UN.

Two Killed In Niger As Troops Foil Jihadist Attack

File photo of Niger Republic map.

 

 

 

Two villagers were killed during a raid in Niger’s troubled south as troops repulsed an attack by jihadists in another area, security sources said Wednesday.

The director of a school and a retired education official were “killed in cold blood” while sleeping in the village of Fantio Tuesday night in the southwestern region of Tillaberi, a security source told AFP.

The attackers, who were riding motorcycles, took away cattle, the source added.

In mid-May, during the Muslim festival of Eid, raiders killed five people and seriously wounded two others in the same village.

Also on Tuesday, soldiers foiled an attack by Boko Haram jihadists in the volatile Lake Chad region, killing three of the attackers and seizing weapons, a multinational military force said.

The remaining attackers fled in four vehicles following the clash in the southeastern town of Bosso, said a statement from the Mixed Multinational Force (FMM).

“Three attackers were neutralised (killed) and one vehicle seized,” the force said, adding that a machinegun and three Kalashnikov assault rifles had also been recovered.

The FMM is made up of soldiers from Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

A local lawmaker from Bosso confirmed both the attack and the toll.

Rated the poorest country in the world under the UN’s Human Development Index, Niger is battling jihadist insurgences on its southwestern flank with Mali and on its southeastern border with Nigeria.

The foiled raid came just two days after nearly 6,000 people who fled jihadist violence in 2015 returned home to the troubled Diffa region where Bosso is located.

Diffa is home to 300,000 refugees and internally displaced people who have fled attacks by the Nigeria-based Boko Haram and its breakaway faction Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), according to the UN.