| Niger army kills 24 'suspected terrorists', says government

Niger’s soldiers stand at Bosso military camp on June 17, 2016 following attacks by Boko Haram fighters in the Diffa region.

Issouf Sanogo, AFP

  • Niger troops killed 24 people, labelled as “terrorists”.
  • The government claimed the terrorists were planning an attack on a market town.
  • The dead were prisoners who tried to escape.

Niger troops killed 24 “suspected terrorists” after they sought to escape after being captured in the west of the country, the government said on Sunday.

The suspects had been planning an attack on the market town of Banibangou but the army was alerted and, after an exchange of fire, 26 people were arrested on 28 April, the defence ministry said in a statement.

One of the “suspected terrorists” died later from gunshot wounds.

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As they were awaiting transfer to nearby Chinegodar, where there is a military base “the prisoners tried to escape” overnight on Thursday and managed to disarm a guard, the ministry said.

“After ignoring warning shots, 24 prisoners were fatally wounded and one of them was able to escape,” it said, adding that an inquiry had been launched.

Chinegodar and Banibangou are in the Tillaberi region which is on the borders of both Mali and Burkina Faso. It is regularly attacked by jihadist groups affiliated to al-Qaeda or Islamic State.

On 15 March, suspected jihadists killed 66 people when they attacked a bus carrying shoppers from the Banibangou, and then raided the village of Darey-Daye.

On 2 January, 100 people were killed in attacks on two villages in the Mangaize district of Tillaberi.

The massacre, one of the worst in Niger’s history, occurred between two rounds of the country’s presidential election.

A year earlier, on 9 January 2020, the Niger army lost 89 men in an attack on the military camp in Chinegodar, one month after 71 troops died in an attack at Inates.

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