Over hundred people were killed in a horrific violence unleashed by some armed men in several villages in southwestern Niger located near the border with Mali. According to reports, the attackers, who came on motorbikes, raided the villages of Intazayene, Bakorat and Wistane on Sunday. As per the Niger government, the attackers killed 137 and left several injured. Initially, there were reports of around 58 people being killed in the attack.
Newly elected President of Niger faces the challenge of violence by armed groups
Government spokesman Zakaria Abdourahamane said that the ‘armed bandits’ have gone a step further in committing brutalities on civilians. “In treating civilian populations systematically as targets now, these armed bandits have a step further into horror brutality”, Abdourahamane was quoted as saying.
Après le massacre de Banibangou les terroristes ont sévi hier sur le même mode barbare contre les paisibles populations civiles de Intazayene et Bakorat dans le département de Tilia faisant plusieurs morts. Je présente mes condoléances émues aux parents des victimes.— Mohamed Bazoum (@mohamedbazoum) March 22, 2021
Niger, which has been ranked by the United Nations as the poorest country in the world, is reportedly struggling with armed campaigns that have been happening in Mali and Nigeria as well. The attacks leave several people dead and displaced. The attacks in Niger are posing a serious challenge before the newly elected president of the country Mohamad Bazoum. Bazoum, who was elected as the President last month and was confirmed by Niger’s apex court on Sunday, expressed condolence for the families of the victims on Twitter on Monday.
Around 66 people were killed in a brutal attack earlier in March
The villages that were attacked by armed men on Sunday are located in the Tahoua region that shares boundary with Tillaberi border area. Tillaberi border area is said to be the hotspot of conflict fueled by terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS troubling the western portion of the Sahel for around 10 years. Around 66 people were reportedly killed on March 15 in an attack by some armed men on a bus carrying shoppers from the market town of Banibangou. The killers then raided the village of Darey-Daye where the killed the locals and set the granaries on fire. The same day, about 33 Malian soldiers were reportedly killed in an attack claimed by ISIS in the tri-border area where the frontiers of Niger, Burking Faso and Mali converge. Bazoum who is a former interior minister has reportedly ordered reinforcements in the Tillaberi region following the March 15 massacre.
Niger is a member of the G5, a France-backed alliance of countries in the Sahel region. A contingent of 1,200 soldiers from the Chadian army has reportedly been deployed in the region under the G5 banner. In an attack that was carried out in two villages in Mangaize district of Tillaberi in January this year, around 100 people were killed. This is said to be to the worst massacre in the history of Niger. This was followed by killing of 89 army men in the same month in an attack on a military camp in Chinegodar.
The Tillaberi region reportedly has active jihad groups. However, the counter-terrorism measures against these groups have allegedly given rise to ethnic militias.