clearn.png
Monday November 29th, 2021 1:01AM

Jihadists in Niger kill at least 100 in mounting violence

By The Associated Press

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — More than 100 civilians were killed in Niger over the weekend by extremists who attacked two villages, as insurgent violence mounts in the West African nation.

The attacks on the western villages of Tchombangou and Zaroumdareye took place on the same day that Niger announced that presidential elections would go to a second round on Feb. 21.

Niger’s Prime Minister Brigi Rafini visited the two villages Sunday.

“We came to provide moral support and present the condolences of the president of the republic, the government and the entire Niger nation,” he said.

The villages in the insecure Tillaberi region were attacked Saturday after residents killed two rebel fighters, local officials said.

The attacks are among the deadliest in Niger and come on the heels of several others, including one by the Islamic State West Africa Province in the Diffa region a few weeks ago in which dozens of people were killed.

Niger and neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali are battling the spread of deadly extremist violence which is displacing large numbers of people, despite the presence of thousands of regional and international troops.

A year ago, extremists staged mass attacks on Niger's military in the Tillaberi region, killing more than 70 in December 2019 and more than 89 in January 2020. The area is also where four U.S. Special Forces soldiers were killed along with five Nigerien colleagues in October 2017.

While no group has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s killings, the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara has been mounting attacks there for some time.

Niger is pressed on all sides by extremist groups and must deal with spillover instability from both Mali and Nigeria. The cross-border conflict has become more deadly as it mixes with local Niger dynamics, according to Judd Devermont, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Extremist groups Islamic State in the Greater Sahara and the al-Qaida-linked JNIM have been successful at strategically wiping out local traditional leaders and then inciting attacks between rival ethnic groups or communities, he said.

“They create uncertainty, unrest and disequilibrium that allows them to exploit grievances, intercommunal tensions,” which they then use to make alliances, he said.

The Niger government has been good in what Devermont called “course correction,” and it has done a better job with community involvement than neighboring governments of Mali and Burkina Faso. However, their capacity is limited as extremists from various groups exploit ethnic tensions across the vast country.

“It’s a wide swath in which different groups are operating in Niger, which means that the government has got a huge challenge on their hands,” Devermont said, noting that the incoming government will have a lot to deal with when it eventually takes office.

Niger was largely spared mass atrocities by armed groups and state forces in comparison to Mali and Burkina Faso until 2020, according to research consultancy MENASTREAM which focuses on security and conflict in the Sahel and North Africa.

Niger's upcoming second-round election in February will pave the way for the country’s first democratic handover of power from one elected president to another. Niger has experienced four coups since it became independent from France in 1960.

President Mahamadou Issoufou, who has served two terms, is stepping down.

Former Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazoum of the ruling party will face off with former President Mahamane Ousmane on Feb. 21.

Bazoum on Sunday posted a video to social media expressing his condolences to the victims.

The U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attacks and reaffirmed “the solidarity and support of the United Nations to the government and people of Niger in their fight against terrorism, violent extremism and organized crime,” according to a statement from spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The U.N. Refugee Agency also condemned the twin attacks, saying they forced at least 1,000 to flee, many by foot, in a region already hosting 60,000 Malian refugees, 4,000 people who have fled Burkina Faso and more than 138,000 internally displaced Nigeriens.

“We express our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of these outrageous attacks on peaceful communities,” said the UNHCR’s representative in Niger, Alessandra Morelli. “Communities which are now torn apart by brutality and forced to flee in a region where tens of thousands of people displaced by violence are hosted and hoping to rebuild their lives.”

Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali in the Sahel are at the epicenter of one of the world’s fastest-growing displacement and protection crises, the refugee agency said.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari also condemned the killings, saying “instability in one part of Africa had implications for the security of others,” in a statement from his office in Abuja.

“I am profoundly shocked by the large scale death of innocent people at the hands of these callous militants who have no regard for the sanctity of human life,” he said. “We are facing grave security challenges on account of the evil campaign of indiscriminate violence by terrorists in the Sahel and only united action can help us defeat these vicious enemies of humanity.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP World News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Slack kicks off 2021 with a global outage
Slack, the messaging service used by millions of people for work and school, suffered a global outage, the first day back for most people returning from the New Year’s holiday
12:41PM ( 12 minutes ago )
The Latest: No. 3 Villanova's next 3 games postponed
Villanova moved up to No. 3 in the AP Top 25, but the Wildcats won't be able to take the floor again for a bit
12:39PM ( 14 minutes ago )
The Latest: France's go-slow vaccination strategy backfires
France’s cautious approach to its virus vaccine rollout appears to have backfired
12:28PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump, on tape, presses Ga. official to 'find' him votes
President Donald Trump is heard on tape pleading with Georgia’s election chief to overturn Joe Biden's win in the state
12:03PM ( 51 minutes ago )
Trump rewarding allies Nunes, Jordan with Medal of Freedom
President Donald Trump is set to present one of the nation’s highest civilian honors to two of his most outspoken congressional allies, California Rep. Devin Nunes and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, as he looks to reward loyalists with just over two weeks left in his term
9:19AM ( 3 hours ago )
Trump’s loyal fans pose challenges for Republicans, Biden
Their candidate may have lost the election, but many of President Donald Trump’s supporters have no intention of fading away
8:21AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Elections
Trump, on tape, presses Ga. official to 'find' Trump votes
President Donald Trump is heard on tape pleading with Georgia’s election chief to overturn Joe Biden's win in the state, suggesting in a telephone call that the official “find” enough votes to hand Trump the victory
7:55PM ( 16 hours ago )
Congress opens new session as virus, Biden's win dominate
Congress has convened for a new session with lawmakers sworn into office during a tumultuous period
7:37PM ( 17 hours ago )
EXPLAINER: How Congress will count Electoral College votes
Wednesday’s congressional joint session to count electoral votes is taking on added importance this year
7:10PM ( 17 hours ago )
General Presidential Election News
Iran starts 20% uranium enrichment, seizes South Korean ship
Iran has begun enriching uranium up to 20% at an underground facility and seized a South Korean-flagged oil tanker near the crucial Strait of Hormuz, further escalating tensions in the Middle East between Tehran and the West
11:50AM ( 1 hour ago )
France's go-slow coronavirus vaccination strategy backfires
France’s cautious approach to its virus vaccine rollout appears to have backfired
11:44AM ( 1 hour ago )
UK's Johnson to outline new restrictions to slow COVID-19
Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to outline tougher restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 on Monday, even as Britain ramped up its vaccination program by becoming the first nation to start using the shot developed by Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca
11:42AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
Slack kicks off 2021 with a global outage
Slack, the messaging service used by millions of people for work and school, suffered a global outage, the first day back for most people returning from the New Year’s holiday
12:41PM ( 12 minutes ago )
The Latest: No. 3 Villanova's next 3 games postponed
Villanova moved up to No. 3 in the AP Top 25, but the Wildcats won't be able to take the floor again for a bit
12:39PM ( 14 minutes ago )
The Latest: France's go-slow vaccination strategy backfires
France’s cautious approach to its virus vaccine rollout appears to have backfired
12:28PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Trump pressures Georgia elections chief: 'Find 11,780 votes'
President Donald Trump pressured Georgia's Republican secretary of state to “find” enough votes to overturn Joe Biden's win in the state's presidential election
12:26PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Vaccination campaign picks up speed around the world
The campaign to vanquish the coronavirus is picking up speed
12:21PM ( 32 minutes ago )