Published: Mon, January 13, 2020

Niger sacks security chiefs after deadly jihadist attack

Niger sacks security chiefs after deadly jihadist attack

Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou has replaced the head of the army after two attacks killed at least 160 soldiers and prompted a rethink in the battle against jihadist groups, the government said.

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

The toll from Thursday's attack surpasses that from a raid last month that killed 71 soldiers, making it the deadliest against Nigerien forces in years. There will be three days of national mourning beginning Monday, the government announced.

It was carried out by attackers arriving in vehicles and on motorbikes.

Thursday's assault, near the Mali border, was the worst in Niger's history.

Macron insists his counterparts from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania and Chad must use the occasion to express public support for France's military presence - by far the largest foreign contribution to the fight against African jihadists aligned to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

France has 4,500 soldiers stationed in the region as part of Operation Barkhane, supporting poorly-equipped local armies that in 2017 launched a joint G5 Sahel force fighting armed groups.

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.

Leaders from the former French colonies of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger are due to discuss the French military's role amid an increase in Islamic terrorist attacks.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and more than a million displaced, with hundreds of troops dead, including dozens of French ones.

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

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

Like this: