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Islamic State launched deadly attack on military in south-western region, confirming increase in jihadist violence since July coup; France began troop withdrawal.
Major attack confirmed rise in jihadist violence in south west. In Tahoua region, Islamic State-Sahel Province (IS Sahel) 2 Oct ambushed military in Tabatol village, Tillia department; govt claimed 29 soldiers killed though locals reported total may be much higher. Recrudescence of jihadist attacks reported in neighbouring Tillabery region since July coup continued. IS Sahel militants 10 Oct killed 11 civilians in Karkatia village, Bankilare department, and 16 Oct clashed with troops in several areas of Bankilare and Tera departments, reportedly leading to dozens of casualties on both sides.
Standoff with France and others continued. French soldiers early Oct began withdrawal from Tillabery region; departure of 1,500 troops due to be completed by year’s end will likely cause logistical, security, and political challenges. Govt 10 Oct also expelled UN resident coordinator in Niger, Louise Aubin, citing “underhanded manoeuvres” by UN, including non-accreditation of Niger’s representatives at international conferences. Meanwhile, U.S. same day formally acknowledged July military takeover was coup, suspended $500mn in development aid.
Algiers’ mediation attempt suffered setback. Niamey 3 Oct denied having accepted Algerian mediation promoting six-month transition to restore constitutional order, emphasised transition duration could only be decided by “inclusive national forum”, and Algiers 9 Oct announced putting mediation efforts on hold pending “clarifications” (see Algeria).
In another important development. Authorities 19 Oct alleged deposed President Bazoum attempted to escape from house arrest with help of local and foreign actors, though those close to former president denied claim. Public prosecutor at Niamey court of appeal 31 Oct said investigation was under way and 23 people had been arrested in connection with case.
Junta signed mutual defence pact with Mali and Burkina Faso, bolstering united putschist front in central Sahel; uptick in jihadist violence continued in south west as attention of top military brass remained focused on Niamey.
Niamey drew closer to other military-led neighbours. As West African regional bloc ECOWAS continued to threaten force to restore constitutional order, Niamey 12 Sept denounced military cooperation agreement with Cotonou, accusing Benin of “planning an aggression” against Niger. Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso 16 Sept signed charter creating Alliance of Sahel States in bid to establish framework for collective defence and mutual assistance.
Junta continued rupture with former colonial power. Junta 1 Sept accused French President Macron of instrumentalizing ECOWAS for “neo-colonial project”, and tens of thousands 2 Sept rallied in capital Niamey and south-western Ouallam town to demand departure of French forces. Paris 24 Sept announced end of military cooperation with Niger and departure of French soldiers by year’s end. France’s ambassador to Niger 27 Sept returned to Paris, one month after junta ordered him to leave. Meanwhile, U.S. military 14 Sept resumed flying drones and aircraft out of its bases in Niger following negotiations with junta.
Uptick in violence continued in south-western Tillabery region. Islamic State Sahel Province (IS Sahel) 1 Sept killed three people in Doukou Tegui village, Tillabery department. Govt forces 4 Sept reported thwarting al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) ambush near Ouro Gueladjo, Say department, killing around ten suspected fighters. IS Sahel fighters 13 Sept killed community leader in Garin Wadey town, Abala department. Suspected jihadist militants 28 Sept killed at least a dozen soldiers in Kandadji town, Tillabery department.
In other important developments. Transitional govt 14 Sept announced opening of consultations at local level as prelude to national dialogue, thereby following in footsteps of Mali and Burkina Faso, where national dialogues held shortly after coups helped legitimise military rule; Niamey however did not set date for dialogue. Meanwhile, former PM and prominent opponent to deposed President Bazoum, Hama Amadou, 11 Sept returned to Niger after two-year exile in France.
West African regional bloc continued to threaten use of force to restore constitutional order; move could trigger major pushback and put Niger and wider region at risk of war.
ECOWAS maintained threat of force to restore constitutional order. Military junta 6 Aug closed Niger’s airspace as West African regional bloc (ECOWAS) seven-day ultimatum to hand power back to elected President Bazoum expired. ECOWAS 10 Aug activated standby force for possible action against junta and 18 Aug reportedly set “D-Day” for military intervention. Regional bloc, which appears divided over course of action, 19 Aug sent delegation to Niger to press coup leader Gen. Tchiani and other junta figures for peaceful return to constitutional order.
Coup leaders found common ground with counterparts in Sahel. Military authorities in Bamako and Ouagadougou 1 Aug jointly said any ECOWAS military intervention in Niger would amount to declaration of war against Mali and Burkina Faso. Senior junta leader, Gen. Salifou Mody, next day met with Malian and Burkinabe transitional presidents in their respective capitals. Coup leaders continued to capitalise on ill feelings toward former colonial power. Junta 25 Aug ordered French ambassador in Niamey, Sylvain Itte, to leave country within 48 hours; French President Macron 28 Aug said Itte would stay at his post, reportedly prompting junta in following days to order police to expel him.
Junta proposed three-year transition to civilian rule. Junta 7 Aug appointed former Finance Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine as interim PM, and 10 Aug announced 21-member interim govt with military officers in charge of six ministries, including defence and interior, and Bazoum’s party holding no ministries. Gen. Tchiani 19 Aug said transition to civilian rule would “not go beyond three years”; also warned ECOWAS that security forces would “not shirk” from defending country. ECOWAS 21 Aug rejected three-year transition plan as “unacceptable”.
Jihadists launched deadliest attacks on military in months. Possibly emboldened by political upheaval in Niamey, suspected jihadists 15 Aug ambushed military detachment near Koutougou town, Tillabery region (south west), killing 17 soldiers and wounding another 24. Another ambush 20 Aug killed 12 soldiers in Anzourou commune, also Tillabery, with military reporting “heavy losses” among assailants.
Presidential guards deposed President Bazoum, extending coup belt and resulting instability sweeping West Africa.
Presidential guards staged coup overthrowing Bazoum. Presidential guards 26 July sealed off presidential palace in capital Niamey and detained President Bazoum. Putschists 26-27 July suspended constitution, dissolved govt and state institutions and closed borders, claiming “continued degradation of the security situation” and “poor economic and social governance” pushed them to act. Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Abdou Sidikou Issa, 27 July said military would not intervene against coup leaders, purportedly to avoid bloodbath in Niamey, de facto backing putschists. Head of Presidential Guard, Gen. Abderrahmane Tchiani, 28 July appeared on state TV and declared himself head of new ruling junta, National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP). Thousands of pro-junta protesters 30 July marched in Niamey waving Russian flags and stormed French embassy, drawing tear gas from French security. CNSP 31 July detained head of Bazoum’s party and four ministers. Coup prompted international condemnation. Notably, West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS 26 July condemned “attempt to seize power by force” and called on putschists to free Bazoum “immediately and without any condition”; 30 July imposed sanctions, including national assets freeze, and threatened force if coup leaders fail to reinstate ousted Bazoum within a week.
Low-level insecurity persisted in Tillabery region (south west). Al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants 4 July killed three civilians in Ourogo village, Say department. Islamic State Sahel Province (IS Sahel) fighters 7 July killed one gendarme and wounded another in Ayorou department. JNIM 14 July ambushed transport convoy under military escort near Niakatire locality, Torodi department, killing one gendarme and four civilians, and wounding 19 others; two militants also killed. Meanwhile, reports around 10 July emerged that Nigerien and French forces 6-7 July captured two high-level IS Sahel leaders; observers 12 July however claimed reports were case of mistaken identity.
Low-level jihadist violence persisted notably in south east, and reports emerged of Arab tribesmen from Niger fighting in Sudan.
Sporadic violence from Boko Haram factions continued in Diffa region (south east). Suspected members of JAS faction of Boko Haram 9 June killed three Nigerian youths in Bosso department. Military vehicle 16 June hit explosive device likely planted by Islamic State West Africa Province militants near Chetima Wangou locality, Diffa department, leaving seven soldiers dead.
Mediation efforts made headway in Tillabery region (south west). Military around 3 June killed five suspected militants of Islamic State Sahel Province or al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) and arrested another eight in Tera department. Arab, Fulani, Djerma and Tuareg communities of Ouallam department 4 June signed peace agreement in Tondikiwindi village, committing to resolving differences peacefully and “forgive past acts”; deal was supported by national peacebuilding body Haute autorité à la consolidation de la paix, testifying to Niger’s multidimensional approach to insecurity relative to its neighbours.
In other important developments. In Agadez region (north), suspected bandits 9 June attacked Tchibarakaten gold mining site in Iferouane area; army repelled attack, killing three assailants and detaining another. Lt. Gen. Shams al-Din Kabbashi, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Sudanese Armed Forces, 9 June accused rival Rapid Support Forces of recruiting mercenaries from Arab tribes notably in Niger.
President Bazoum maintained hard-line approach toward critics of French military presence, and deadly violence persisted in region bordering Burkina Faso.
Govt arrested critics of security partnership with France. Govt 2 May accused civil society group Union Committee Tillabery for Peace, Security and Social Cohesion of “sowing disorder” after group late April accused French forces of seeking to destabilise Niger and demanded their departure; police same day detained group’s leader Amadou Arouna Maïga.
Tillabéry region (south west) saw jihadist and intercommunal violence. In Gotheye department, military convoy 7 May hit explosive device likely planted by al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims near Samira Hill gold mine, leaving seven soldiers dead. Suspected Islamic State Sahel Province militants 3-13 May attacked villages in Tillabery’s Téra department, killing at least eight people. Meanwhile, in Tillabery department, clashes late April-early May erupted between sedentary Djerma and nomadic Fulani communities in Dessa, Kandadji and Ayorou communes, leaving at least ten people dead and up to 18,000 displaced, who mid-May returned home.
Security operations continued along Nigerian border in south east. Military 10 May announced intercepting 1,400 Boko Haram militants since March as they fled into Diffa region following clashes with rival Islamic State faction in Nigeria’s Borno state; 30 combatants also killed during operations. Military 29 May said joint operation with Nigerian army 6-28 May left 55 Islamic State West Africa Province militants dead in Niger-Nigeria border regions, including several senior commanders.
President Bazoum reshuffled military leadership as small-scale jihadist violence persisted, notably in south east; high-level visits showcased Niger’s new role as Western countries’ preferred partner in the Sahel.
Low-level violence continued in Diffa region and returned to Agadez region. In likely effort to place men closer to him in command of military, Bazoum 1 April named new army chief of staff, while defence minister 13 April named new chief of gendarmerie. Meanwhile in Diffa region (south east), IEDs likely planted by Boko Haram faction Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) 9-15 April killed several soldiers and one civilian in Diffa and Bosso departments. Also in Diffa, rival Boko Haram faction (JAS) 15-17 April abducted at least three civilians in N’Guigmi department. In rare attack in northern Agadez region, unidentified gunmen 9 April ambushed gold convoy under military protection near Arlit town, leaving five soldiers dead and another five wounded.
Court sentenced civil society leader to prison. Court in capital Niamey 14 April sentenced coordinator of opposition coalition M62, Abdoulaye Seydou, to nine months in prison for “disseminating information that could disturb public order” after he accused armed forces of killing civilians.
High-level visits from Western actors continued. German defence minister and economic cooperation minister 12 April met with Nigerien counterparts in capital Niamey, said Niger would be “the focus of our future military engagement in the Sahel” as Berlin plans to withdraw from UN mission in Mali by May 2024. German parliament 28 April approved deployment of up to 60 troops to Niger as part of planned EU training mission.
Security forces conducted large-scale counter-insurgency operations, and Niamey continued to strengthen security cooperation with regional and international partners.
Govt forces stepped up operations against jihadists in Diffa, Tillabery regions. In Diffa region (south east), armed forces around 11 March reportedly killed about 30 suspected Boko Haram (JAS faction) combatants near Nigerian border in Diffa department, and arrested 960 militants and family members; week of 13-19 March reportedly killed around 20 and arrested 83 suspected combatants of Boko Haram splinter group Islamic State West Africa Province in N’Guigmi department. Also in Diffa, suspected JAS elements 11 March killed nine civilians abducted two days prior near Toumour village (Bosso department). In Tillabery region (south west), presumed Islamic State Sahel Province (IS-Sahel) 1 March killed one civilian in Ayorou commune (Tillabery department); al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims 4 March attacked police station in Makalondi village (Torodi department), killing one civilian; govt 24 March reported that combined air-ground operation previous week killed 79 jihadist militants (likely IS-Sahel) in Banibangou area and across border in Mali’s Hamakat area.
Authorities pursued regional and international diplomacy. In sign of possible rapprochement between Niamey and Bamako, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Salifou Mody 9 March met with Malian Interim President Col. Goïta in Mali’s capital Bamako; Gen. Mody reportedly asked Mali to allow Nigerien forces to pursue jihadists into Mali. Niger’s National Security Council same day announced closure of land border with Mali’s Ménaka region in attempt to hamper cross-border militancy. President Bazoum 13 March travelled to Benin and 20 March to Togo to discuss security and economic cooperation with his counterparts. Meanwhile, in first-ever visit to Niger by top U.S. diplomat, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 16 March met with Bazoum in capital Niamey.
Military court sentenced several soldiers to prison for role in 2021 coup attempt, disinformation campaign targeted President Bazoum; deadly jihadist violence continued, notably in south west.
Trial of 2021 coup attempt concluded, fake news about new coup circulated online. Military court 24 Feb sentenced 27 people, mainly soldiers, to prison terms for involvement in March 2021 coup attempt during transition between former President Issoufou and President Bazoum. During trial, two mid-level officers admitted to playing role in coup plot, while many defendants claimed without evidence that coup attempt was false flag operation organised by Issoufou to eliminate dissenting officers from military. Rumours of new coup attempt throughout month circulated on social media in apparent bid to destabilise Bazoum, who has expressed vocal opposition to Mali and Burkina Faso’s military regimes and has remained committed to military cooperation with France; govt 17 Feb denied coup, denounced “malicious messages” and attempts to create “psychosis” among population.
Deadly attacks targeted civilians and govt forces, notably near Malian border. In Tahoua region (south west), suspected Islamic State-Sahel Province (IS-Sahel) combatants 1 Feb attacked displaced persons camp near Tillia village (Tchintabaraden department), which hosts Dawsahak people from Mali, leaving at least 18 dead. In Tillabery region (also south west), presumed IS-Sahel militants 10 Feb killed 17 soldiers, with another 13 wounded and 12 missing, in ambush near Intagarmey village (Banibangou department). In Maradi region (south), unidentified armed group 12 Feb attacked Oumba village (Madarounfa department), killing two civilians, wounding seven and abducting at least eight.
Jihadist violence continued to fuel insecurity in south west and south east; local peace agreement between communities of Banibangou municipality revived hope for resolution of longstanding conflict.
Islamic State continued driving insecurity in Tillabery region in south west. Govt forces 8 Jan reportedly killed four suspected Islamic State Sahel Province (IS-Sahel) fighters and arrested another three near Taroum town (Ouallam department), also losing two soldiers; 18 Jan reportedly killed 11 suspected jihadists and detained another six near Doulgou village (Gotheye department), with local sources alleging unknown number of those killed were Fulani civilians. Suspected IS-Sahel elements 10 Jan killed two civilians near Téra town (Téra department); 12 Jan attacked Doukou Koira Tegui village (Tillabery department), killing two and wounding seven residents.
Boko Haram factions kidnapped civilians in Diffa region in south east. Suspected Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction of Boko Haram 7 Jan kidnapped two people in Gremari locality (Maine Soroa department); next day kidnapped five children in Maissirodi village (Diffa department). Suspected Boko Haram (JAS) militants 18 Jan kidnapped at least four women in Rimi village (N’Guigmi department).
In other important developments. Representatives of Zarma and Fulani communities in Banibangou municipality (Ouallam department, Tillabery region) around 23 Jan signed peace agreement to end longstanding conflict fuelled notably by competition for natural resources. Ruling party late Dec elected former President Issoufou’s ally Foumakoye Gado as party president, highlighting Issoufou’s continuing influence within party and in state matters.
Govt secured major international financial support for development plan, with pledges exceeding initial expectations; jihadist violence persisted, albeit at lower levels.
Govt’s development plan garnered financial support from international partners. President Bazoum 5-6 Dec travelled to French capital Paris for fundraising event to finance Niger’s 2022-2026 socio-economic development plan, which aims to reduce poverty rate from 43% in 2022 to 35% in 2026. Public and private donors including World Bank, African Development Bank and UN reportedly promised €31.4bn in support, twice as much as initially hoped for, confirming that Niger is now international institutions’ primary partner in Sahel region.
Levels of violence decreased in Tillabery and Diffa regions. In Tillabery region (south west), suspected Islamic State Sahel Province combatants 2 Dec killed four people near Kokorbe village (Ouallam department); suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims attack on police position in Say town (Say department) 5 Dec left one militant and two civilians dead; unidentified gunmen next day reportedly killed national guard in Ayorou town (Tillabery department). In Diffa region (south east), unidentified gunmen 5 Dec killed national guard in Diffa town (Diffa department); Boko Haram militants (likely JAS faction) 22 Dec clashed with armed forces between Bagué and Tchoungoua localities (N’Guimi department), leaving five jihadists dead and two soldiers wounded.
In other important developments. National Commission on Human Rights 27 Dec concluded armed forces did not commit abuses during late Oct counter-insurgency operation in Tamou village (Say department, Tillabery region), despite allegations by civil society movement M62 that airstrikes had killed many civilians.
Civilians suffered violence at the hands of jihadist and govt forces in southern regions, and French Operation Barkhane formally ended.
Jihadists targeted civilians in Diffa region in south east. Alleged members of Boko Haram JAS faction 2 Nov attacked camp for internally displaced persons in N’Gala Peulh locality (N’Guigmi department), killing five civilians. Unidentified Boko Haram faction 4 Nov kidnapped three people between Djilmari and Waragou localities (Diffa department); national guard later freed hostages, killing one jihadist. Suspected JAS combatants 7 Nov kidnapped eight people in Maldjori town, Diffa department; national guard operation in Bague locality, Bosso department next day reportedly freed hostages, leaving five militants dead.
Counter-insurgency operations continued in Tillabery region in south west. Alleged Islamic State Sahel Province 6 Nov attacked national guard position in Zibane locality (Tillabery department), leaving no casualties; in response, military in cooperation with French forces launched ground and air operation in area, killing 15 militants. As opposition continued to accuse govt forces of killing several civilians in airstrike on Tamou mining site in Oct, coordinator of M62 coalition of 15 civil society organisations, Abdoulaye Seydou, 17 Nov said police had summoned him three times for his comments on incident.
French Operation Barkhane came to a formal end. French President Macron 9 Nov announced formal end of Operation Barkhane amid reconfiguration of France’s military strategy in Sahel region; around 1,000 French troops will however remain in Niger as part of bilateral military cooperation. European Union official 11 Nov announced launch of military cooperation mission in early 2023 to support Nigerien forces in their fight against jihadists.
Jihadist violence persisted in south west and south east, while inflation and French troop presence remained sources of public discontent.
Islamic State Sahel Province attacks continued in Tillabery region in south west. Suspected IS Sahel militants 8 Oct ambushed G5 Sahel force patrol in Téra department, injuring five soldiers before being repulsed; 22 Oct attacked transport trucks on Tizegorou-Banibangou axis (Banibangou department), killing 12 civilians. Suspected jihadists – likely IS Sahel or al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) – 22 and 24 Oct killed two police officers in Tamou locality (Say department); after defence ministry said seven jihadists killed 24 Oct in subsequent security operations in Tamou gold mine, civil society coalition M62 29 Oct alleged much higher death toll and civilian victims; local authorities 27 Oct shut down Tamou mining site until further notice.
Boko Haram offshoots maintained their presence in Diffa region in south east. Govt forces 1-2 Oct reported dismantling Boko Haram (likely Islamic State in West Africa Province, ISWAP) supply system in Toumour village (Diffa department). Suspected ISWAP-planted explosive device 16 Oct killed woman and girl and injured two children in Bosso commune (Bosso department).
In other important developments. Niamey authorities 7 Oct banned M62 protest scheduled for 9 Oct, citing “security reasons”; M62 had called for demonstration against high costs of living and relocation of French Barkhane force to Niger. Meanwhile, civil protection services 4 Oct said floods have killed at least 192 people and affected 263,000 others since June, with Maradi, Zinder and Dosso most affected regions.
President Bazoum worked to strengthen regional and domestic support as anti-French protests erupted notably in capital Niamey; insecurity persisted in several regions.Bazoum’s security strategy continued to arouse anti-French sentiment. Civil society coalition M62 18 Sept held demonstrations in Niamey and south-western Dosso city against French Barkhane force’s relocation to Niger; hundreds turned out, chanting pro-Russia slogans, with no violent incidents reported. As part of Bazoum’s attempt to consolidate domestic support amid backlash over increased French presence, National Council for Political Dialogue – permanent framework bringing together govt, opposition and other political parties – 9 Sept met in Niamey for first time in almost two years; participants discussed security situation among other topics. Bazoum also discussed security cooperation with Burkinabè President Lt. Col. Damiba 11 Sept and adviser to Chad’s president next day in Niamey. News outlet Africa Intelligence 5 Sept reported European Union would send training mission to Niger at Bazoum’s request.Sporadic jihadist violence persisted in south west and south east. In Tillabery region (south west), security forces week of 14 Sept killed eight jihadists in Tera department, and arrested four individuals suspected of cooperating with jihadists in Abala department. In Diffa region (south east), suspected Boko Haram faction JAS 3 Sept killed three civilians in Bosso village (Bosso department), 6 Sept killed seven on Liberia island (N’Guigmi department); local official said jihadist elements 20 Sept killed 11 farmers near Toumour town (Diffa department). Multinational Joint Task Force in Sept conducted several operations in Diffa, N’Guigmi and Bosso departments, reportedly killing several suspected jihadists and detaining scores.
French Operation Barkhane completed relocation to Niger amid domestic opposition and persistent jihadist violence in southern regions. Insecurity continued to plague south. In Tillabery region in south west, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 1 Aug killed three civilians in Garbougna village (Gothèye department). Govt forces week of 4 Aug killed eight JNIM fighters near Samira mine (also Gothèye). Explosive device allegedly planted by JNIM militants 11 Aug killed two civilians near Bougoum town (Niamey capital region). In nearby Tahoua region, security forces week of 4 Aug killed four suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) fighters near Tabatol locality (Tillia department). In Diffa region in south east, Multinational Joint Task Force troops week of 10 Aug arrested three suspected Boko Haram splinter Jama’tu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (JAS) members in Toumour locality (Diffa department); JAS militants 12 Aug attacked civilian vehicles near Garin N’Gawaye town (N’Guigmi department), killing two and abducting 22. French Operation Barkhane 15 Aug completed relocation from Mali to Niger amid widespread domestic criticism. New anti-French coalition of 15 civil society organisations, M62, created 3 Aug; after Niamey authorities banned M62 protest scheduled for 17 Aug against rising fuel prices and French relocation, coalition vowed to organise “peaceful march for dignity” on 18 Sept. Former President Mahamane Ousmane’s opposition party 11 Aug denounced Barkhane redeployment to Niger, as well as country’s security and economic situation. In apparent response to rising pressure, President Bazoum 2 Aug called for greater unity against jihadists, 5 Aug met with opposition leader Tahirou Saidou in rare political move. Govt worked to bolster security apparatus: after cabinet late July extended state of emergency in parts of Tillabery, Tahoua and Diffa regions, defence minister 1 Aug announced plans to increase size of military from 33,000 to 100,000 troops by 2030.
Violence ran high in Diffa region in south east; govt sought to strengthen regional security cooperation, and reported growing food insecurity. In Diffa region in south east, Boko Haram splinter group – Jama’tu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (JAS) or Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) – 3 July attacked National Guard post in Gueskérou commune (Diffa department), killing two; 11 militants also killed and eight others captured. Around 50 presumed JAS combatants 4-5 July attacked Blabrine military position in N’Guigmi department, killing six soldiers and wounding 14 more, and losing 17 militants; 18 July abducted 16 people including 11 Chadian Quranic students and five women in N’Guigmi town. In Tillabery region in south west, violence continued along Burkina Faso border, near capital Niamey, where al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) operates. Notably, in Torodi department, govt forces around 7 July killed five suspected JNIM members near Torodi town, while unidentified gunmen around 13 July ambushed joint Nigerien-Burkinabe patrol in same area; patrol repulsed attack, reportedly killing 22 assailants. Amid relative lull in violence in Mali-Niger border area of Tillabery, partly due to dialogue between govt and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), suspected ISGS militants 17-18 July reportedly clashed with militiamen near Adabdab village in Banibangou department; at least eight militiamen and three militants killed. Niger and Benin 11 July signed military cooperation agreement with view to enhancing information-sharing and air-intelligence cooperation amid rising security concerns along shared border. PM Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou 7 July said 4.4mn Nigeriens will need food assistance during lean season in June-Sept, as inflation and rising food prices have further exacerbated existing food shortages.
Jihadist violence continued in Tillabery and Diffa regions, and President Bazoum reiterated willingness to talk with jihadists. Insecurity persisted in Tillabery region. In Gotheye department, suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants 14 June killed at least eight soldiers and wounded 33 in attack on Waraou town; in response, French Barkhane forces same day carried out airstrike against retreating assailants near Burkina Faso border, killing around 40. In Banibangou department, suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara militants 7 June attacked Diné-Ara and Inékar towns, causing unknown casualties, and 11 June killed two local vigilantes in Tizegorou locality. In rare attack within Niamey capital district, suspected JNIM militants 7 June killed one soldier and wounded another in Bougoum town. Joint anti-insurgency operation made headway in Diffa region, but jihadist attacks continued. Multinational Joint Task Force (which comprises militaries of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria) 8 June announced operation Lake Sanity 28 March-4 June killed over 800 Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) militants in Lake Chad basin. ISWAP militants 7 June killed one soldier in attack on army position in Djalori town (Diffa department); 14 June attacked customs post in Mainé-Soroa department, killing one. Meanwhile, President Bazoum continued efforts to engage local jihadist leaders in talks. Bazoum 3 June visited Makalondi commune (Torodi department, Tillabery region), called on jihadists to demobilise, promising reinsertion into society; 9 June visited Téra town (Téra department, Tillabery region), called for greater cooperation with Mali and Burkina Faso to stabilise shared borders. Amid continued popular opposition to French presence, Bazoum in 8 June interview with West African media outlets said he was “not a valet of France”. Nigerien, Nigerian and Algerian energy ministers around 20 June met in Nigeria’s capital Abuja in effort to revive trans-Saharan pipeline project to transport gas to Europe.
Security forces kept up pressure on jihadist militants in south east and south west; President Bazoum reiterated commitment to security partnership with France despite vocal opposition. Nigerien military and regional allies continued security operations in Diffa region (south east). Notably, Nigerien elements of Multinational Joint Task Force 7 May killed ten members of Boko Haram in airstrike in N’Guigmi department. Govt 25 May said army previous night killed around 40 Boko Haram elements in fighting on Lake Chad islands in and around Diffa department. Meanwhile, jihadist violence persisted in Tillabery region (south west). Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants 4 May publicly executed civilian for unknown reason in Kokoloukou village (Torodi department); suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants killed civilian in Firaw Koira village (Tera department); IED allegedly planted by ISGS 12 May killed two civilians in Sakoira commune (Tillabery department); and JNIM militants next day killed five people, including village chief, in Bolsi town (Torodi department). Also in Tillabery, army 24 May reported killing 65 jihadists in recent days in Torodi and Gotheye areas. Amid increasingly vocal opposition to redeployment of French Barkhane forces in Niger, President Bazoum 17 May met with French Ambassador to Niger Alexandre Garcia in capital Niamey, reaffirmed ties with France. In interview with French media outlet La Croix, Bazoum next day called for deeper and more effective Western involvement to combat jihadist groups in Sahel region. UN Sec Gen António Guterres 2-3 May visited Niger, met with Bazoum and called on international community to invest more in training and equipment for Nigerien army. After Court of Auditors in April pointed to dysfunctions and irregularities in conduct of govt operations, Nigerien Network for Budgetary Transparency and Analysis and other NGOs 11 May filed legal complaint over alleged loss of FCFA63bn (€95,7mn) in state funds due to embezzlement in recent years.
Rival jihadist factions engaged in major clashes in Diffa region, parliament authorised relocation of foreign troops from Mali to Niger, and authorities arrested sitting minister and other govt officials as part of anti-corruption campaign. In Diffa region (south east), infighting between two subgroups of Boko Haram faction known as JAS 4 April left over 60 dead around Bosso commune, on islands shared between countries of Lake Chad basin; JAS 9-10 April clashed with rival group Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) in Bosso commune, with at least 14 dead. ISWAP reportedly claimed executing 11 Christians after capturing them in Diffa region 22-26 April. Amid lower jihadist activity in Tillabery region (south west), suspected jihadists 12 April killed seven police officers and wounded over a dozen in attack on police station near Burkina Faso border in Bankilaré department. As part of 2-25 April joint operation with Burkinabè forces along shared border, govt forces reportedly killed numerous suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants in Torodi department. In Agadez region (north), attacks by unidentified assailants 8 and 12 April left six soldiers dead. As part of ongoing military operations across country, 54 suspected jihadists reportedly killed 26 March-2 April in Dosso, Tahoua, Tillabery, and Diffa regions; and 37 militants killed 5 April in joint operation with neighbouring Benin and Burkina Faso in tri-border area. National Assembly 22 April voted to allow redeployment from Mali to Niger of French Barkhane and European Takuba troops. Authorities 8 April arrested former Interior Minister Ousmane Cissé on accusations of involvement in alleged coup attempts in 2021 and during President Bazoum’s visit to Turkey in March. Bazoum next day announced arrests of 30 senior govt officials as part of anti-corruption drive; authorities around 19 April also arrested Communication Minister Mahamadou Zada on embezzlement charges in first-ever arrest of minister in office.
Jihadist groups stepped up attacks in Tillabery and Diffa regions, leaving over 50 dead; relocation of French Barkhane and European Takuba forces from Mali to Niger remained divisive. In Tillabery region (south west), explosive devices likely planted by al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) around 3-4 March killed five soldiers in Torodi department. Suspected jihadists 16 March attacked civilian transport vehicles in Tera department, killing 21 people including at least two police officers; 24 March ambushed army convoy in Kolmane area, also Téra department, killing six soldiers. Jihadists also ramped up attacks in Diffa region (south east). Govt forces 2 March clashed with suspected Boko Haram Bakura faction militants in Gueskerou commune (Diffa department), number of casualties unknown. Bakura combatants 7 March attacked six villages in Diffa department, killing at least 20 people and abducting unknown number of women. President Bazoum defended decision to open dialogue with jihadists: after announcing late Feb he had sent emissaries to “nine terrorist leaders” and released several militants from prison in effort to “search for peace”, Bazoum 10 March told Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera that dialogue with JNIM militants could produce positive outcome, insisted military force is necessary part of any solution. Ruling coalition 5 March issued statement supporting Bazoum’s decision to accept redeployment of French Barkhane and European Takuba forces to Niger. In letter to French President Macron, opposition MP Omar Hamidou 7 March opposed relocation, said French and European forces had “lost all credibility” in Nov 2021 when three protesters were killed in clashes with Barkhane forces in Tillabery’s Tera department.
Niger set to take on enhanced role in regional security architecture amid departure of French and other forces from Mali; insecurity remained widespread in Tillabery and Diffa regions. French Defence Minister Florence Parly 2-3 Feb visited Niger to assure Niamey of Paris’s “unfailing support” in fight against jihadists amid reconfiguration of France’s security presence in Sahel. France and partners 17 Feb announced full withdrawal of French Barkhane and European Takuba forces from Mali within six months, also stated intent to build new regional security architecture focusing on Niger and West African coastal countries by June. President Bazoum same day confirmed Niger will welcome part of Takuba troops leaving Mali but did not mention Barkhane. Possible reinforcement of French military presence stoked domestic tensions. Authorities 10 Feb banned demonstration scheduled for next day by civil society coalition Tournons La Page against French presence and deployed law enforcement forces in capital Niamey to prevent gathering. Meanwhile, several deadly attacks targeted civilians, local self-defence groups and military forces in Tillabery region (south west). Notably, army vehicle 16 Feb struck explosive device near Téra department’s Samira gold-mining site, leaving five killed and two wounded; unidentified assailants 20 Feb attacked truck in Banibangou department killing at least 18 civilians. In Diffa region (south east), series of abductions by suspected Boko Haram (BH) Bakura faction or Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) continued. Notably, ISWAP or Bakura faction 8 Feb killed one person and abducted 16 including women and children in Bosso department. Banditry activity and several abductions recorded in Maradi region (south). Unidentified gunmen 1 Feb attacked civilians in Koakora village (Guidan Roumdji department) and abducted four women; next day clashed with local defence militia and abducted woman in Tchadi village (also Guidan Roumdji). Also in Maradi, Nigerian army airstrike targeting armed bandits 18 Feb reportedly killed seven children in Nachadé village (Madarounfa department) bordering Nigeria.
Violence persisted mainly in south west but also south east, and corruption scandal re-emerged weakening President Bazoum. In Tillabery region (south west), Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) launched several attacks on security forces: gendarmerie vehicle 7 Jan hit explosive device likely planted by JNIM militants on Torodi-Makalondi axis (Torodi department), leaving at least three gendarmes killed; JNIM 15 Jan stormed mixed position of National Guard, customs and forest guards in Torodi department, killing one national guard. Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) also staged several attacks in south west, notably ambushing National Guard convoy between Sanam village in Tillabery and Tebaram village in neighbouring Tahoua region 3 Jan; five national guards killed. Spate of kidnappings continued in Diffa region (south east). Suspected Boko Haram Bakura faction or Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) combatants 3 Jan abducted three women in Gorodi village (Diffa department); all three next day escaped as air force conducted strikes on militants’ hideout. Suspected Bakura faction 5 Jan also kidnapped seven women and girls in Klakamana village (N’Guigmi department). Also in Diffa region, security forces 29 Jan reportedly repelled ISWAP attack on Chetima Wangou military camp, killing ten militants. In first major drug interception in Niger, police 2 Jan seized 214kg of cocaine – worth around $9mn – in local official’s vehicle at Tourayyat checkpoint in Agadez region (north). After legal document late Dec revealed govt had refused to bring civil action against those accused of having embezzled over FCFA12bn ($20mn) of defence ministry’s funds, president’s office 6 Jan insisted settlement allowed state to recover full amount and reaffirmed authenticity of Bazoum’s commitment to combat corruption; statement comes after Moussa Tchangari, sec gen of NGO Alternative Espaces Citoyens, 29 Dec said govt feared inquiry would reveal senior administration officials or prominent politicians’ involvement.
Security situation remained fragile in south west and authorities sought to stifle growing protest movement against foreign military presence. In Tillabery region (south west), suspected jihadist militants 4 Dec stormed army position near Fantio locality in Tera department, killing at least 12 soldiers; defence forces next day said they had killed “dozens” of militants in fighting. Niger and Burkina Faso 25 Nov-9 Dec conducted joint offensive along shared border as part of second phase of Taanli joint operation launched last June, claimed to have killed around 100 jihadists notably in Torodi department. French air strike 20 Dec reportedly killed leading Islamic State in the Greater Sahara member Soumana Boura north of Tillabery city. Presumed jihadists overnight 22-23 Dec simultaneously attacked border post and bridge near Makalondi village (Torodi department), killing at least seven. Meanwhile, UN refugee agency 3 Dec said violence in Nigeria’s North West had forced 11,500 people to flee into Niger in Nov, with most taking shelter in rural commune of Bangui in Tahoua region (which neighbours Tillabery); influx of refugees could present local authorities with additional challenge. Tensions persisted after protest against French military presence late Nov turned deadly in Tillabery’s Tera department; defence and interior ministers 4 and 11 Dec respectively refused to appear before parliament to answer questions on incident. Authorities 5 and 12 Dec banned two demonstrations against western military presence organised by civil society coalition Tournons la page (TLP); 10 Dec reportedly detained 15 TLP members, most of whom were allegedly taking part in rally in capital Niamey on Human Rights Day. In address to seventh edition of Peace and Security Forum in Senegal’s capital Dakar, President Bazoum 6 Dec urged external partners to increase efforts to stop illicit arms flows originating from Libya, described them as “most important parameter” behind jihadist violence in Sahel, and argued Sahelian countries should be granted exceptional financial resources to resolve security crisis.
Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) conducted sophisticated attacks in south west, inflicting heavy casualties and demonstrating resilience despite death of group’s leader in August. In Tillabery region (south west), alleged ISGS combatants 2 Nov ambushed self-defence group in Banibangou department, killing at least 69; two days later stormed mixed army and gendarmerie position in Tillabery department, killing at least 14 soldiers. President Bazoum 6 Nov labelled insecurity prevailing in Tillabery as country’s “number one challenge”. In Tillabery’s Tera department, protesters opposed to French military presence 27 Nov blocked French convoy hours after it had crossed border from Burkina Faso while en route to Mali; clashes erupted, leaving at least two killed and 18 wounded. In neighbouring Tahoua region, presumed ISGS combatants 17 Nov stormed nomadic compound guarded by Tuareg self-defence group in Tillia department, killing at least 25 including 22 vigilantes. In Diffa region (south east), despite absence of major jihadist attacks since mid-Sept, Boko Haram factions throughout month continued to harass and kidnap civilians to thwart relocation of internally displaced persons; republic’s 63rd anniversary celebrations scheduled for 18 Dec in Diffa city could become flashpoint for violence. Two major accidents in Maradi region (south) underlined significant challenges facing Bazoum presidency. Collapse of artisanal goldmine in Madarounfa department 7 Nov killed at least 18, highlighting risks associated with proliferation of artisanal mines in country’s south and north east. Meanwhile, fire 8 Nov broke out in straw hut classroom in same department, killing at least 26 primary school children; incident renewed pressure on govt to build classrooms in solid materials, one of Bazoum’s campaign promises. Bazoum 29 Nov announced partial cabinet reshuffle, notably sacking of interior minister.
Jihadists continued attacks on civilians and state forces in south west, fuelling displacement and worsening food crisis. In Tillabery region (south west), suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 3 Oct killed six civilians in Tera department; 5 Oct killed two civilians including Gassa village chief in Tillabery department; and 11 Oct stormed mosque in Banibangou department, leaving ten dead. Jihadists 17 Oct also attacked police post in Tera department, killing three police officers. Amid sustained efforts by President Bazoum to bolster relocation plan in region, local NGO Cluster Protection Niger said recent violence caused displacement of over 800 people in Tera department 4 Oct and another 150 in Tillabery department 9 Oct. UN humanitarian agency (OCHA) 1 Oct warned of rising food insecurity in Tillabery region due to farmers’ inability to cultivate lands and surge of food prices amid violence; recorded around 600,000 food insecure in region. In neighbouring Tahoua region, suspected bandits 10 and 12 Oct robbed two businessmen, raising fear of insecurity spilling over from neighbouring Nigeria’s Sokoto state. Violence dropped in Diffa region (south east) in Oct; suspected jihadists 12 Oct however abducted four people. Several security incidents reported in Maradi region (south); notably, unidentified gunmen 4 and 6 Oct abducted six civilians and seized livestock in Madarounfa department. Amid tense relations with Bamako since Malian military took power, Bazoum 6 Oct met leaders of main Malian armed groups signatory to 2015 Algiers peace agreement; rapprochement risks further aggravating diplomatic feud. “Pandora papers” investigation released 8 Oct alleged former Nigerien presidents including Bazoum’s predecessor Issoufou illegally awarded mining licences to Russian businessmen presumably as part of money-laundering scheme; accusations could heighten tensions within ruling party, including Bazoum’s inner circle potentially using allegations to reduce Issoufou’s influence.
Govt’s plan to relocate displaced people to violence-ridden south east and south west under strain as jihadist attacks on civilians continued. In Diffa region (south east), jihadists continued to target civilians in alleged bid to sabotage govt’s relocation plan. Suspected militants from Boko Haram’s Bakura faction 4 Sept abducted teacher in Kindjandi village (Diffa department); 13 Sept attacked civilian transport vehicle on Blabrine-N’Guigmi axis, wounding one; 21-23 Sept reportedly abducted village chief and about 20 women and children in N’Guigmi department. Alleged Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) combatants 7 Sept ambushed two civilian vehicles on Ngagam-Ehl Mainari axis, wounding at least four. Local sources 1 Sept accused security forces of having executed 17 fishermen following deadly jihadist attack in Baroua town late Aug. In Tillabery region (south west), suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) combatants 9 Sept killed 11 in Niarbou Kouara village (Ouallam department); suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants 22 Sept attacked National Guard position near Tamou village (Say department) killing one guard. President Bazoum 10-11 Sept visited Tillabery region in bid to bolster relocation efforts. NGO Amnesty International 13 Sept warned about increasing number of children killed or recruited by armed groups – notably ISGS and JNIM – in Tillabery this year. France 16 Sept said French Barkhane forces mid-Aug killed ISGS leader Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui in tri-border area between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Meanwhile, G5 Sahel force’s member states (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad) 31 Aug-1 Sept met in capital Niamey, agreed on necessity to develop more multilateral and bilateral operations in tri-border area. Authorities 9 Sept charged two local journalists with “defamation” and “disruption of public safety” under controversial 2019 cyber criminality law, after they published international NGO study on drug trafficking in Niger.
Jihadist violence against civilians and military continued in south. In Tillabery region (south west), suspected jihadists continued to target civilians in Banibangou area (Ouallam department) near Malian border: interior ministry 11 Aug said unidentified gunmen 9 Aug killed 15 civilians in Banibangou area, and suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) combatants 16 Aug stormed Darey-Dey village, killing 37 civilians. Meanwhile, suspected ISGS combatants launched their first attack in Maradi region (south), killing two National Guard troops on Dakoro-Tessaoua axis 17 Aug; incident could indicate group’s intention to expand eastward. NGO Human Rights Watch 11 Aug reported recent upsurge in atrocities by jihadist groups in western Niger, with 420 civilians killed in Tillabery and Tahoua regions since Jan 2021, called for “early warning networks” and “committees composed of civilians, security forces, and civil society groups to identify and respond to urgent protection needs”. In Diffa region (south east), hundreds of Boko Haram militants overnight 24-25 Aug attacked military post in Baroua town, killing 16 soldiers and wounding nine more; attack is blow to President Bazoum’s plan to relocate 130,000 displaced people to Diffa in coming months. Amid insecurity, govt 2 Aug extended state of emergency in Diffa region, as well as in several departments of Tahoua and Tillabery regions. U.S. Under Sec State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland 5 Aug visited capital Niamey, showing commitment to bolstering U.S. ties with Niger as country due to play more important role in region’s security architecture.
Niger emerged as France’s new privileged security partner in Sahel region; jihadist violence continued unabated in south west. During G5 Sahel virtual summit, French President Macron 9 July detailed reconfiguration of French military presence in Sahel region (see Mali), said international Takuba Task Force’s role will be enhanced and its command centre transferred from Mali to Niger; announcement, as well as Macron and Nigerien President Bazoum’s post-summit joint press conference in France’s capital Paris, signal greater role for Niger in regional security architecture. Bazoum same day criticised military junta’s takeover in Mali, prompting Bamako to immediately blame him for going against “spirit of friendship” traditionally uniting both countries. Bazoum 12-13 July visited Algeria, secured agreement for enhanced security cooperation; deal may entail military assistance from Algeria including air support. Meanwhile, in Tillabery region (south west), suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) combatants 11 July stormed Tchoma Bangou village, Ouallam department; military reportedly repelled attack, killing at least 40 militants including senior ISGS commander Malam Younoussa; four soldiers and five civilians also killed. Suspected jihadists 25 and 28 July killed 33 civilians in two villages of Banibangou area, Ouallam department, and 31 July ambushed military supply mission in Torodi area, Say department, leaving 15 killed and six missing. In neighbouring Tahoua region’s Tillia department, suspected ISGS militants 4 July killed civilian in Inizdan village, and ethnic Tuareg militia 6 July abducted two ethnic Fulani individuals between internally displaced person (IDP) sites of Telemces and Assagaygay. Bazoum 2 July toured Diffa region (south east) to bolster support for his plan to relocate 130,000 IDPs, most of whom have fled region in recent years due to repeated jihadist attacks; Local authorities 30 July said over 26,000 people already returned to their hometown. Niamey 9 July said it had reached agreement with Nigeria’s Borno state to repatriate 130,000 Nigerian nationals currently living in Diffa by year’s end.
Suspected jihadists conducted series of attacks in south west, while joint French-Nigerien operations dealt major blow to Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). In Tillabery region (south west), ISGS 2 June abducted two in Banibangou area, Ouallam department, and claimed killing two alleged govt informants in Tongo Tongo area (also Ouallam) on around 8 June. Presumed Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 4 June reportedly killed two soldiers in Torodi commune, Say department, and night of 6-7 June abducted two Chinese miners at gold-mining site in Mbanga town, Kollo department. Unidentified assailants 24 June reportedly killed 19 civilians in villages of Danga Zouani and Korombara, Ouallam department. Meanwhile, joint French-Nigerien operations in tri-border area between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso dealt severe blow to ISGS; operations led to capture of several senior ISGS leaders, including Dadi Ould Chouaïb alias “Abu Dardar” 11 June, and killed Almahmoud Ag Baye alias “Ikaraye”, highest-ranking Tuareg leader within ISGS, and his brother 15 June. In Diffa region (south east), Islamic State in West Africa Province militants 5 June attacked gendarmerie post near Diffa city, wounding one gendarme. In Agadez region (centre north), suspected drug or arms traffickers 10 June stormed security post near Assamakka town, Arlit department, killing three members of security forces. Meanwhile, kidnappings and cattle theft continued in Maradi region (south-centre): unidentified gunmen 3 June abducted five civilians in Baban Rafi village, and 10 June killed three civilians and seized livestock in Dan Kouregaou village, both Madarounfa department. In capital Niamey, unidentified gunmen night of 11-12 June stormed residence of National Assembly President Seini Oumarou wielding AK-47 rifles, killing one guard; ISGS 22 June claimed responsibility for attack.
Jihadist violence continued, particularly in south-western Tillabery region, where deadly attacks on civilians triggered mass displacement. In Tillabery region, heavily armed Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 4 May attacked military outpost in Intoussan village, Banibangou department, killing at least 16 soldiers and four civilians; jihadists 13 May stormed Fatio village, Tera department, killing five civilians. UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs 17 May reported over 100 civilians killed since early May in Intoussan and Anzourou villages, and over 11,000 from Anzourou area fled following rising attacks against civilians. In neighbouring Tahoua region, presumed ISGS militants 1 May fired at farmers, killing two near Agando village, Tillia department; militants same day ambushed National Guard patrol, killing 16 soldiers in Agando. In Diffa city (south east), Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters 28 May killed four security forces, and four civilians, with at least six attackers dead. Meanwhile, intercommunal tensions persisted. Notably, Zarma groups 4 May killed several Fulani in Banibangou department, Tillabery region. Accusations of serious abuses by Nigerian security forces persisted. International NGO Human Rights Watch 5 May reported that security forces extrajudicially killed at least 185 people since Oct 2019, urged President Bazoum to prioritise seeking justice over abuses. During official visit to Niger, head of Chadian Transitional Military Council General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno 10 May met Bazoum, who on 24 April was appointed as special mediator for Chadian crisis, to discuss future of both countries; also visited G5-affiliated Chadian battalion stationed in Tera city, Tillabery (see Chad). In Arlit (north), civil society groups 9 May issued letter to Bazoum raising concerns about 31 March closure of Akouta uranium mine, including lack of compensation for mine’s 800 subcontractors, and health and environmental risks of burying 20mn cubic metres of radioactive waste.
Jihadists continued to target civilians in south west, fuelling intercommunal tensions, and stepped up attacks on security forces in south east; President Bazoum took office and formed cabinet. In Tillabery region (south west), Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) 4 April set several schools on fire in Torodi commune and 17 April killed 19 ethnic Zarma civilians in Gaigorou village near Ayorou town. In Diffa region (south east), Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) 1 April claimed same day IED attack on army vehicle near Mainé-Soroa town. Suspected ISWAP combatants 3 April attacked army camp near Ngagam displacement site killing four soldiers, and 15 April stormed Mainé-Soroa gendarmerie station, killing two. ISWAP attacks on Nigerian Damasak town at border with Niger 14-16 April displaced up to 65,000 people, including hundreds across border into Niger; jihadist threat could intensify in Diffa in coming months as ISWAP’s activity in Nigeria’s Borno state spreads toward Komadougou Yobé River, which marks border with Niger (see Nigeria). National Human Rights Commission 2 April called for independent inquiry into allegations that Chadian soldiers recently deployed as part of G5 Sahel force sexually abused two women and one child in Tera department, Tillabery region; govt next day said it had arrested suspected soldiers. President Bazoum took office 2 April, next day appointed former President Issoufou’s chief of staff, Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou, as PM; Mahamadou’s considerable influence within ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism could help Bazoum broaden his support base within party. Mahamadou 7 April formed govt of 33 ministers including five women, with two opposition parties that supported Bazoum’s candidacy securing nine ministries; most strategic portfolios handed to Issoufou-era heavyweights. Meanwhile, lack of information on late-March heavy gunfire near presidential palace in capital Niamey sparked rumours of fake news. Notably, supporters of runner-up in presidential election Mahamane Ousmane, who still refuses to acknowledge Bazoum’s victory, 1 April accused govt of having fabricated coup attempt to divert attention from opposition demonstrations.
Jihadist violence escalated as spate of attacks left over 200 civilians dead in south west, and authorities foiled coup attempt days before inauguration of president-elect. Suspected jihadist combatants 21 March raided villages of Intazayene, Bakorat and Wistane near Mali border in Tahoua region (south west), killing at least 141 civilians, and further fuelling intercommunal tensions. In neighbouring Tillabery region (also south west), suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) 15 March ambushed passenger vehicles near Chinagoder locality and Darey-Dey village, Ouallam department, reportedly leaving at least 66 mainly ethnic Zarma civilians dead; govt next day said killings were “targeted”. Suspected ISGS also launched other raids in Ouallam, notably killing eight in Dinara village 9 March and six in Kaourakeri village next day. Unidentified assailants 10 March killed at least 11 in three villages in Tillabery. In Diffa region in south east, suspected Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) or Boko Haram faction led by Abubakar Shekau (JAS) 1 March killed four civilians near Garin Wanzam settlement, Gueskérou commune; overnight 2-3 March attacked gendarmerie in Mainé-Soroa town, killing two gendarmes. Meanwhile, presidential runner-up Mahamane Ousmane 8 March filed appeal with Constitutional Court to contest preliminary results of 21 Feb run-off vote, citing irregularities including abnormally high participation in nomadic communes and electoral officials forced to sign records at gunpoint. Constitutional Court 21 March however confirmed ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum as next president; Bazoum due to take office 2 April in first democratic transition of power in country’s history. Ousmane next day denounced “violation” of constitution, saying his appeal had not been examined. Military unit overnight 30-31 March reportedly assaulted presidential palace, but presidential guard repelled assault; govt 31 March said several people had been arrested and condemned attack on “democracy and the rule of law”. U.S.-trained police unit 2 March seized 17 tons cannabis resin worth FCFA 20bn in capital Niamey; authorities subsequently arrested 11 Nigerien nationals and two Algerians in connection with seizure, including former Tuareg rebel and tribal chief El Hadj Ghoumour Atouwa alias “Bidika”.
Post-election violence flared as opposition rejected victory of ruling-party candidate Mohamed Bazoum in 21 Feb presidential runoff. Second round of presidential election between ruling-party candidate Bazoum and former President Mahamane Ousmane 21 Feb disrupted by deadly incident in Dargol commune, Tillabery region (near Mali border) as landmine killed seven poll workers. Electoral commission 23 Feb announced provisional results, saying Bazoum won with 55.75% of vote. Ousmane same day rejected results, citing electoral fraud, and his supporters immediately took to streets in capital Niamey; police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who reportedly ransacked at least one police station and several shops. In Dosso city, about 100km south of Niamey, protesters same day reportedly burnt down political party premises. Ousmane 24 Feb claimed victory with 50.3% of vote, reiterating that fraud had been committed “pretty much everywhere” and prompting protesters to confront security forces in Niamey’s central market area and south-western town of Kollo. Govt 25 Feb said two died in post-election violence and 468 were arrested; also accused opposition figure Hama Amadou, who was barred from running in presidential election, of being “main person responsible” for unrest; after Amadou next day turned himself in to police in Niamey, police detained him over these allegations. Regional body ECOWAS and UN 25 Feb jointly condemned post-election violence and called on all actors to exercise restraint. Meanwhile in Tillabery region (south west), jihadist activity continued albeit at lower intensity than in Jan: suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 5 Feb seized livestock in Kailou Kouara village, Ouallam department. In Maradi region (south), unidentified gunmen conducted series of attack in Guidan-Roumdji department: 5 Feb attacked Guilbadi village, killing at least one and wounding four others; 8 Feb killed student and seized livestock in Dan Mani village, and same day shot three dead in Gaja village. G5 Sahel summit 15-16 Feb held in Chad’s capital N’Djamena; French President Macron announced France would not downsize military forces in Sahel until at least mid-2022, called for “civilian surge” to complement military efforts, and continued to oppose dialogue with jihadist leaders.