The Ministry of Defence of Niger has revealed that a group of armed individuals carried out an attack near the Mali border, resulting in the unfortunate loss of at least 17 soldiers from Niger.
A statement issued late on Tuesday revealed that a unit of the Nigerien Armed Forces (FAN) was ambushed by terrorists while moving between Boni and Torodi, in close proximity to the town of Koutougou, situated approximately 52 kilometers southwest of Torodi.
Tragically, an additional 20 soldiers sustained injuries and were promptly evacuated to Niamey, the nation’s capital.
In a commendable response, the military managed to neutralize over 100 attackers during their retreat.
Over the past decade, the region where central Mali, northern Burkina Faso, and western Niger converge has emerged as a focal point for violent activities orchestrated by armed groups associated with al-Qaeda and ISIS (ISIL) within the Sahel region.
The continuous loss of life has fueled military coups across all three nations since 2020.
The most recent occurrence was in Niger on July 26, when President Mohamed Bazoum was ousted from power due to mounting frustration with the prevailing insecurity.
It’s worth noting that southeastern Niger also faces threats from armed factions infiltrating from northeastern Nigeria, originating from the Boko Haram campaign that began in 2010.
While the coup leaders attributed Bazoum’s removal to the deteriorating security situation and governance issues, Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from nearby Abuja in Nigeria, highlighted that the military government’s decision to annul agreements with the French military and suspend aid from other international partners in Niamey has added complexity to the situation.
“It will be difficult now for Niger to source for equipment, for weaponry and deal with the rising cases of attacks by these armed groups in the Sahel … it may have to rely on countries like Mali and Burkina Faso for expertise and also from the mercenary groups that have been operating in these two countries,” he said on Wednesday.
“But how much can they give? How long will that be? They too are facing a similar problem,” Idris added.