Jihadist Attack on Military Post in Niger Kills 13 People

Updated on
  • Gunmen opened fire on paramilitary police in Tillabery
  • Ambush on U.S. soldiers on Oct. 4 occurred in same region

Niger said that 13 members of its security forces were killed in a militant attack that occurred in the same region as the Oct. 4 ambush that left four U.S. troops dead and put U.S. military involvement in West Africa in an international spotlight.

Gunmen opened fire on a post of the national gendarmerie, or paramilitary police, in the town of Ayorou, 200 kilometers (124 miles) northwest of the capital, Niamey, according to Karim Boureima, a deputy for the southwestern Tillabery region. Five gendarmes were injured in the attack early Saturday, Defense Ministry spokesman Amadou Samba Gagara said on state TV.

Despite a state of emergency, the closure of markets and a night ban on motorized traffic, there have been almost 50 militant attacks in Niger’s two southwestern regions since February last year, according to the United Nations humanitarian office OCHA. The jihadists are often believed to come from neighboring Mali.

The U.S. has deployed about 800 military personnel in Niger, which is about twice the size of Texas. The U.S. military trains Nigerien soldiers and is building a drone and airbase near the northern city of Agadez, where it works alongside French troops. France has a mobile special force in the wider Sahel region of about 3,000 soldiers.

Five West African nations are preparing to set up a joint anti-jihadist operation before the end of the year, with each government providing a battalion of 750 soldiers that will operate in the border area of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso to stop a surge in militant attacks.

While Niger is one of the world’s poorest nations, it accounted for 8 percent of global uranium output in 2013, ranking as the fourth-largest producer, according to the World Nuclear Association.

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