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Following an attack that left 29 soldiers dead in western Niger, the nation has proclaimed a three-day period of national mourning.
As detailed by the country’s defense ministry, the incident involved a coordinated assault involving “improvised explosive devices and kamikaze vehicles by more than a hundred terrorists.”
This took place close to the Mali border, amidst military operations intended to “neutralize the threat posed” by the ISIL (ISIS) group in the region. The ministry’s televised statement elaborated that besides the deceased soldiers, two sustained severe injuries, while “several dozen terrorists” met their end in the confrontation.
The statement also highlighted that post-attack, “communications from the terrorists, who were forced to withdraw, have been intercepted,” suggesting that the assailants “benefitted from outside expertise.”
This comes as a surge of violence has been an ongoing concern in Africa’s Sahel region for over a decade, having originated in northern Mali in 2012 and eventually permeating neighboring nations like Niger and Burkina Faso by 2015. The region, marking the junction of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, regularly witnesses onslaughts by factions affiliated with ISIL and al-Qaeda. In addition, the region has been hit with military coups across these countries.