Banditry: Over 1,000 Women, Children Displaced In Niger State


 

Not less than one thousand persons, mostly children and women have been displaced following attacks by bandits on several communities in Shiroro local government area of Niger State.

The recent attacks, which began on January 14, have also left a village head and one other person dead.

According to the locals, the attackers stormed Masuku, Zongoro, Maguga, Magami, and Kwaki and started opening fire in the air.

They also say the attackers abducted some thirty persons.

Channels Television crew visited the IDP camp at Kuta on Saturday, where members of the affected communities are taking shelter at the Dr. Idris Ibrahim Primary School.

At the time of our visit, more people were still arriving the camp.

Some of the displaced women and children at the Niger camp

The Director-General, Niger State Emergency Management Agency, Ahmed Inga who led officials of the agency to take food items and other relief materials to the camp said the state government has put in place a strategy to tackle the challenge, but that it will not disclose such strategy to the public.

Chairman of Shiroro local government council, Shuaibu Suleiman Chukuba, however, raised concern over increasing hunger and poverty in the area due to the activities of bandits.

Channels Television came across two women who were said to have been delivered of a baby boy and girl each.

One of the women, Zarawu gave birth on Friday evening.

Buhari Commiserates With Niger President Over Terrorist Attack

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday evening spoke to Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou on the telephone to commiserate with him, the government and people of Niger Republic, over the terrorist attack of January 9, 2020, in Chinagodrar, which killed scores of soldiers in a military base.

President Buhari expressed deep sympathy and condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of the victims.

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Condemning the heinous attack by the terrorists, the Nigerian leader assured his Nigerien counterpart that Nigeria will continue to work closely with his country and other international partners to overcome terrorism and violent extremism.

The President reaffirmed that the perpetrators of such cowardly acts and their sponsors deserve no peace and comfort, stressing that Nigeria stands in solidarity with her allies to ensure that justice is served.

89 Soldiers Killed As Terrorists Attack Niger Military Camp

 

A jihadist attack on a military camp in western Niger three days ago left 89 soldiers dead, according to a new toll announced by the government on public radio Sunday.

“After a thorough search, the toll has been established as 89 dead among friendly forces, and 77 dead for the enemy,” said spokesman Zakaria Abdourahame.

Three days of national mourning have been declared to honour the dead.

The previous toll given for Thursday’s attack on the Chinegodar camp was 25 soldiers killed.

Heavily armed assailants had stormed the military base in an area where dozens also died in a previous jihadist attack.

The raid near to the volatile frontier with Mali was carried out by attackers in vehicles and on motorbikes.

The attack happened in the same region Tillaberi, also bordering Burkina Faso, where 71 Niger soldiers were killed in a December attack, claimed by the Islamic State group, that saw hundreds of jihadists storm a camp near the border with Mali with artillery.

The latest attack is the deadliest on Niger’s military since Islamist extremist violence began to spill over from neighbouring Mali in 2015.

The December attack spurred leaders of the G5 Sahel nations to call for closer cooperation and international support in the battle against the Islamist threat.

Militant violence has spread across the vast Sahel region, especially in Burkina Faso and Niger, having started when armed Islamists revolted in northern Mali in 2012.

Thousands of civilians have also died and more than a million have been forced to flee their homes since the jihadist revolt began.

Analysts note an escalation in the jihadists’ operational tactics, which seem to have become bolder and more complex in recent months.

Ranged against them are the impoverished armies of Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, plus a 4,500-man French force in the Sahel and the 13,000-man UN force in Mali, MINUSMA.

The Sahel region of Africa lies to the south of the Sahara Desert and stretches across the breadth of the African continent.

AFP

Niger Army Kills 63 Terrorists In Attack On Military Base

 

Heavily armed assailants stormed a military base in Niger on Thursday killing 25 people and leading to fierce clashes that killed 63 “terrorists”, the defence ministry said, in an area where dozens died in a previous jihadist attack.

The raid near to the volatile frontier with Mali by attackers in vehicles and on motorbikes began in Chinegodar, in the western Tillaberi, at 01:00 pm (12H00 GMT), defence spokesman Colonel Souleymane Gazobi said on television.

“The response with the combined air support of the Niger air force and partners made it possible to strike and rout the enemy outside our boundaries,” he said. Partners often means US drones in the Sahel, or French fighter planes or drones in the country.

He put the toll at 25 dead and six injured on the “friendly side” and on the “enemy side 63 terrorists neutralised”.

The attack happened in the same region Tillaberi, also bordering Burkina Faso, where 71 Niger soldiers were killed in a December attack, claimed by the Islamic State group, that saw hundreds of jihadists storm a camp near the border with Mali with artillery.

It was the deadliest on Niger’s military since Islamist extremist violence began to spill over from neighbouring Mali in 2015, and dealt a blow to efforts to roll back jihadism in the Sahel.

That attack spurred leaders of the G5 Sahel nations to call for closer cooperation and international support in the battle against the Islamist threat.

Militant violence has spread across the vast Sahel region, especially in Burkina Faso and Niger, having started when armed Islamists revolted in northern Mali in 2012.

Thousands of civilians have also died and more than a million have been forced to flee their homes since the jihadist revolt began.

Analysts note an escalation in the jihadists’ operational tactics, which seem to have become bolder and more complex in recent months.

Ranged against them are the impoverished armies of Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, plus a 4,500-man French force in the Sahel and the 13,000-man UN force in Mali, MINUSMA.

The Sahel region of Africa lies to the south of the Sahara Desert and stretches across the breadth of the African continent.

bh-pgf/klm/har

300 Migrants Arrested Over UN Camp Fire

 

Niger police have arrested more than 300 Sudanese asylum seekers after accusing them of burning down a UN refugee camp in the north of the country, prosecutors said on Monday.

The Niger town of Agadez has become a major transit point for migrants from sub-Saharan Africa trying to reach Europe and for those escaping chaos in neighbouring Libya.

Agadez prosecutor Seyni Saidou told state television 335 asylum seekers had been arrested on Saturday after they were identified as taking part in burning their camp.

City officials said “incidents” erupted after security forces dislodged hundreds of asylum seekers from the local offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), where they were holding a sit-in to demand refugee status and placement in Europe.

“Once they were brought back in buses, they first set fire to the camp” before attacking security forces who escorted them, one official said.

According to a report by local authorities, 290 homes and the infirmary were burned down.

At least two people were injured by the demonstrators, who “broke bus windows”.

Charges include unarmed assembly on a public highway, rebellion by deliberate destruction of property and arson, prosecutors said.

Some 1,400 Sudanese who fled insecurity and slavery in Libya since 2017 live around the camp about 10 km from Agadez. Since 2018, the Sudanese have been demonstrating regularly in Niamey and Agadez for quicker settlement in host countries, especially in Europe.

Hundreds of refugees, particularly Ethiopians and Eritreans living in Niamey, have been resettled in France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland.

AFP

Suspected Bandits Stranded In Niger Communities

APC Candidate Wins Niger East Senatorial Seat

 

Residents of Munya Local Government Area (LGA) of Niger State have reportedly sighted dozens of stranded bandits wondering about apparently in search of food in the area.

The bandits, according to sources, were up to 30 and said to be involved in the attack that claimed the lives of four soldiers and other civilians.

In an interview with Channels Television, a resident of one of the communities alleged that the armed men were among the bandits that attacked the area on Sunday.

He said, “The bandits are armed with sophisticated guns.

“We are convinced that these strange people were earlier involved in the attack on Sunday during which some soldiers were killed. These attackers are currently stranded in communities in the area.”

The Chairman of Munya LGA, Mohammed Daza, confirmed the sighting of the bandits in his local government to journalists on Monday.

Daza who spoke through his vice, Luka Garba, appealed to the state government to beef up security of the area, adding “the villagers have since abandoned their homes for the bandits”.

Channels Television gathered that the bandits have been moving from one location to the other, looking for a safe exit from the communities as they fear that their entry route may no longer be safe for them.

The affected communities are Sohon Kabula, Luwi, Rufogo, Mudungo, Beni and Toko while the villagers have reportedly abandoned their homes.

“They are all strangers because they don’t know where to go and how to get out of the communities; that is why they want the people to show them where to follow,” another resident said.

He added, “They refused to follow all the routes that they showed them. I can tell you that they are stranded. If the security agents can move in now, they will capture them.”

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Niger, Mohammed Abubakar, said policemen have been deployed in the LGA to flush out the criminals from the area.

14 Soldiers Killed In Ambush In Western Niger

A soldier stands guard at sunset as France’s President and Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou (unseen) take part in a military ceremony at the Martyr Quarter on December 22, 2019, in Niamey, to pay homage to 71 Nigerien soldiers massacred in an attack on December 10 at the Inates military camp in the Sahel country’s western Tillaberi region. Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP

 

Fourteen soldiers have been killed after “heavily-armed terrorists” ambushed a convoy in the western Niger region of Tillaberi.

“After a fierce battle… seven police and seven national guards were killed” Wednesday, the interior ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

“A guard has been listed as missing,” the ministry said, adding, “the enemy suffered many losses.” It did not give details.

The security forces had been escorting a team to carry out voter registration in the district of Sanam ahead of presidential and legislative elections due in late 2020, it added.

The team was “secured and returned to Sanam safe and sound,” the statement said.

Niger, a poor, landlocked country in the heart of the Sahel, is on the front line of a jihadist insurgency.

Its troops are fighting Boko Haram militants on the southeast border with Nigeria and jihadists allied with the Islamic State group in the west near Mali.

On December 10, 71 soldiers were killed in Tillaberi when hundreds of jihadists attacked a military camp with shelling and mortars.

It was the worst single toll since jihadist violence spread from Mali in 2015.

Niger is part of a five-nation anti-jihadist task force known as the G5, set up in 2014 with Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Chad.

Burkina Faso on Thursday was observing its second day of mourning after a wave of jihadist attacks in the north of the country left 42 dead, also its worst one-day casualties since 2015.

G5 Sahel Leaders To Meet After Deadly Niger Attack

In this file photo taken on August 10, 2018 Mali’s incumbent president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita addresses his supporters during his last political rally in Bamako ahead of the runoff vote in Mali’s presidential election on August 12, 2018. 
Michele CATTANI / AFP

 

G5 Sahel leaders will meet Sunday for an emergency summit in Niger to coordinate their response to a Jihadist attack on an army camp that killed 71 military personnel, Mali and Niger said.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the assault, in which hundreds of jihadists on Tuesday attacked the camp near the border with Mali with shells and mortars.

“Yesterday our neighbour Niger buried 71 of its soldiers who died by the bullets of those who want to spread chaos,” Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita told an audience in Bamako on Saturday.

“We will not fail in our solidarity with Niger and tomorrow my brothers of the G5 Sahel and I will go to Niamey and we will consult together,” he said.

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The G5 Sahel, an anti-jihadist task force, comprises Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania, and Chad.

The Niger presidency confirmed the summit to AFP.

The attack in Inates in the western Tillaberi region was the deadliest on Niger’s military since Islamist militant violence began to spill over from neighbouring Mali in 2015, and dealt a blow to efforts to roll back jihadism in the Sahel.

Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou raced back in the night from a security and development conference in Egypt to chair a meeting of the National Security Council in Niamey. Three days of national mourning were declared.

Militant violence has spread across the vast Sahel region, especially in Burkina Faso and Niger, after it began when armed Islamists revolted in northern Mali in 2012.

Tuesday’s attack prompted French President Emmanuel Macron to postpone a meeting scheduled for next week in the southwestern French town of Pau, where he and five presidents from the Sahel were due to discuss security in the region.

The talks will now take place early next year.

AFP

IS Claims Responsibility For Deadly Niger Attack

 

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a military camp in Niger which left 71 military personnel dead, the SITE intelligence group said Thursday.

“The Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) claimed credit for the deadly raid on the Inates military base in Niger,” SITE, which monitors jihadist media, said in a statement. It added that ISWAP said it had killed “over a hundred soldiers”.

Tuesday’s attack in Inates in the western Tillaberi region was the deadliest on Niger’s military since the country’s Islamist militant violence began in 2015.

AFP

Buhari Condemns Terrorist Killing Of 67 Soldiers In Niger

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday condemned the terrorist attack in Inates, western region of Niger Republic, near the Mali border, which resulted in the killing of 67 military personnel, with 34 people still unaccounted.

Expressing deep shock and sadness over the heinous and despicable attack by terrorists that reportedly crossed in from neighboring Mali, President Buhari expressed Nigeria’s solidarity with the government and people of Niger Republic in the aftermath of the tragedy.

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Stressing Nigeria’s strong condemnation of this terrorist act, President Buhari reaffirmed the resolve of his administration to continue working closely with countries neighbouring the Sahel and the Sahara, as well as international partners, to defeat the roving terrorists creating havoc in the sub-region.

”On behalf of myself, the government and people of Nigeria, I send our deepest condolences to the families of the bereaved, the government and the people of Niger Republic following this dastardly attack.

”We offer prayers for the repose of those murdered and for the safe recovery and return of those who are still to be accounted for,” said the President.

Over 60 Killed In Niger Military Camp Attack

 

 

Jihadists attacked a Niger military camp near the border with Mali with artillery and mortars, killing more than 60 people, a security source said on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s attack in Inates in the western Tillaberi region was the deadliest on Niger’s military since the armed forces began fighting Islamist militants in 2015.

“The attack killed more than 60,” the source said. “The terrorists bombarded the camp with shelling and mortars. The explosions from ammunition and fuel were the cause of the heavy toll.”

The source did not say which group was responsible for the deadly assault.

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Niger forces are fighting against Boko Haram militants in the southeast border with Nigeria and jihadists allied with the Islamic State in the west near Mali and Libya.

Three soldiers and 14 militants were also killed on Monday in an attack on another army post in Agando in the western Tahoua region, the defence ministry said.

Heavily armed “terrorists” in a dozen 4×4 vehicles led the attack early Monday morning on the military post in Tahoua, the ministry statement said.

Niger is part of a five-nation anti-jihadist task force known as the G5, set up in 2014 with Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, and Chad.

Thousands of civilians and soldiers have died in violence across the vast region, known as the Sahel, which began when armed Islamists revolted in northern Mali in 2012.

Climate Change Threatens End Of Trail For Niger’s Nomadic Herders

 

 

Ali’s sharp eyes scanned the heat-shimmered horizon, searching in vain for clouds.

It was noon and 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) on the ninth day of their quest to reach new pastures.

There was no tree anywhere, no shelter at all for his family, 27 sheep and six camels.

“We heard that the first rain has fallen in the north. That’s where we’re going,” the turbaned herder said, as he filled up a water bottle at the side of the road.

An arduous trail lay ahead: more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) across the arid wastes of southern Niger before the family reached their goal.

There at Bermo, they counted on joining thousands of other herders, spending a few months in verdant hollows on the edge of the Sahara, famous for their moist air, juicy grass and water.

The annual migration of the nomadic Fulani community — also called Peuls — is a vast caravan of herder folk that tails back to neighbouring Nigeria.

Women and children perched on donkeys already overburdened with bags of jute, plastic containers, mattresses and gourdes. Scrawny cows, sheep and goats trailed alongside in the baking heat, looking exhausted.

Vulnerable

Nomadic herders are among the world’s most exposed communities when it comes to the impact of climate change.

Higher temperatures, shifting winds and moisture levels that alter rainfall patterns, sandstorms, torrential rain — all can change the quality or even the location of pasture on which migrating herders depend.

This year, for the Fulani, has been relatively good.

The herdsmen were able to draw on stocks of animal feed to help them survive stress points, while timely rainfall on some areas of the migration trail helped tender young grass to grow.

But whether this respite endures is the big question.

Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries, depends on farming, particularly herding, to provide a livelihood for 80 per cent of its population.

In addition to its vulnerability to climate change, the country is on the frontline of desertification — the equivalent of around 150,000 football pitches is lost each year.

Capricious

“The weather has become completely unpredictable,” said Djafarou Amadou, an engineer working for a group called the Association to Revitalise Herding in Niger (AREN).

“What we fear most are pockets of drought which take people by surprise when they least expect it.”

In 2018, more than 60,000 people, gathered in Bermo, celebrated when the rain began to fall as early as May.

But after a few weeks, the precious rain suddenly stopped. None fell for the next 30 days. The green plains turned yellow and the price of cereal fodder on local markets rocketed.

Rouada Sabgari, an elderly herder, said that he had to sell off his skinniest cows at rock-bottom prices just to survive — a mere 5,000 CFA francs ($8.4, 7.6 euros) per animal, compared with more than 200,000 francs at better times.

Every winter, Sabgari said, he camps nearby a well dug by his grandfather more than half a century ago, six kilometres (four miles) from the village of Bermo.

He is part of a Fulani clan called the Wodaabe, famous for travelling extremely long distances with their herds, from Niger to the Central African Republic via Cameroon and Chad.

They are also nicknamed the Mbororo, like the hardy strain of reddish, large-horned steers they drive.

There is little that Sabgari doesn’t know about survival and resilience.

But he said he wondered whether his children will be able to carry on the ancient herding traditions.

Successive droughts over the past 10 years have caused him to lose half of his herd.

Today, he only has 32 cows — a catastrophic loss of capital for him and his 25-member family.

In the Fulani culture, cattle are the measure of wealth and freedom. According to their beliefs, at the making of the world, the cow was created by God (Gueno) himself, using a drop of milk.

Lethal droughts

Seated on a mat in front of his tent, on a plain swept by winds and plastic bags snared on thorny bushes, Sabgari looked back on a life of hardship and brutal change.

“In the old days, we didn’t eat cereal or meat. The milk was rich and plentiful, it made us strong just by itself,” he said. “It’s impossible to do that today.”

Sabgari said the worst droughts, in 1974 and 1984, were turning points for Sahel herders. They lost half of their cattle.

“We were unprepared for it,” he recalled. “Everyone fled (south) to Nigeria. The animals were so thin and tired that we had to lift them to get them on their feet. Even the people were dying. There was nothing in markets.”

Prayers to God to raise this “curse” and bring rain went in vain.

After the big droughts, smaller ones followed — and food insecurity gradually became chronic, worsened by a jihadist insurgency and the displacement of the rural population it caused.

“Today, we have fewer animals and smaller harvests and more mouths to feed,” said the engineer Amadou.

Niger is the sixth poorest country in the world but has the planet’s highest fertility rate at more than seven children per woman on average.

The crunch

Dwindling harvests, relentless population pressure, climate uncertainty, pollution of underground aquifers, the rivalry between herders and farmers over access to land: all this is a deadly mixture.

In recent times, even in good years such as 2019, the phantom of hunger has never gone away.

Harvests and livestock production are in surplus and the price of millet, sorghum and corn has fallen.

Yet despite this, between June and August, 1.2 million Nigeriens were in a position of serious food insecurity, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Barka Azzey, 38, is a testimony to how herder families in Niger can be ground down by repeated crises.

His once-proud herd of 40 cows dwindled from hunger and diseases, leaving only scrawny beasts that gave no more milk and were unable to have calves.

It was time to quit.

“We didn’t have enough to eat, to buy clothes, so I took my family and we went to live in the town,” Azzey said, his voice betraying sadness.

He became a watchman, living with his wife Rabi and their five children in the grounds of a wealthy trader in Maradi, Niger’s second-largest town.

On the floor of his hut, three thin chickens rested in the shadow of a satellite dish where clothes were stretched out to dry.

Azzey earns a meagre 20,000 CFA francs ($34, 30 euros) a month, and to feed the children has to buy food on credit at the local grocery store.

“There’s nothing good in towns. Just despair,” Azzey said.

He is fixated by one idea — “to earn enough money to rebuild my herd and get my old life back.”

Exodus

Azzey is just one of innumerable young Nigeriens who have turned their backs on the harsh life of herding to try their luck in the cities.

In cities across West Africa, you can see these young men hustling for a few banknotes, offering to shine your shoes, sell you a SIM card for your phone or some medicinal remedy.

Many become caught in the poverty spiral and have no way out.

AREN, the British charity Oxfam and other NGOs have set up programmes in rural areas that seek to stem this human haemorrhage.

One such scheme is a dairy, set up in the village of Bermo, which employs 300 people, mainly women, to produce yoghurt and cheese that are then sold at the local market.

Help such as this has been a boon to Hadiza Attahirou, 39, who for 15 years went to Mali or Senegal to work for a few months to earn a little money.

She received two cows under a help scheme — a small income, but a lifeline.

“I can ease the burden for my husband when he goes off with the herds and pay my daughter’s school fees,” she said.

Others have benefited from micro-credit to buy farming tools or sewing machines.

Store the good times

The wheel of time turns, in the Fulani year, to Gerewol — a grand festival to mark the end of the rainy season.

In Fulani folklore, this is a time to breathe and take into account life’s blessings. Food is plentiful and the flanks of the animals are fat.

Nomadic clans arrive in Bermo from across the Sahel. Bonds of friendship and love are renewed. Weddings and births are celebrated.

The ageless rituals of courting are renewed once more, as men — their faces painted, their hair in locks and bodies decorated with magical charms — dance for the women.

Like their animals who have grown fat on the grass of Bermo, the Fulani will also stock up on this moment.

Tomorrow, they will set out once more on the trail.

They will draw on memories of these days of comradeship, love and fun — a precious fund to sustain them in the perils that lie ahead.

Before them lies furnace-like heat. Grass that will unexpectedly wither and die. Water holes that become parched.

And they will be doomed to walk further and further, in search of those elusive clouds.