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Boko Haram (BH) continued attacks in south east near border with Nigeria and suspected jihadists kept up attacks in west near border with Mali. In Diffa region in south east, BH militants 9 April attacked gendarmerie camp, killing two. Unidentified gunmen 13 April killed one in Biri Boula, Diffa region. After governor of Diffa region imposed stricter curfew, civil society organisations 15 April launched “ville morte” protest against restrictive security measures, shutting down economic activity in Diffa town; governor 19 April reverted curfew to previous hours. BH 26 April attacked Doctors without Borders office in Maïné Soroa, Diffa region. In west, bombing killed at least five soldiers in Tahoua region bordering Mali 20 April. Suspected jihadists night of 26-27 April killed Tuareg chief in Inatès, near border with Mali. Thousands of school students protested in capital Niamey 9 April against poor education conditions; protests turned into riots, with students burning tyres and vandalising and looting public and private goods. Security forces used teargas to disperse protesters and arrested 92; all released ten days later.
Boko Haram (BH) attacks and military operations continued in south east. Military 8-9 March repelled BH attack on outskirts of Gueskérou, Diffa region, 38 BH militants and seven military killed. BH 21 March attacked Gueskérou village, eight civilians killed. BH 23 March attacked four villages in Diffa region, at least fourteen civilians killed. BH suicide bombers and gunmen 26 March staged coordinated attack on Nguigmi, Diffa region, killing at least ten. PM Brigi Rafini 14 March presided over peace forum in Foulatari, Diffa region, and met with local administrative, customary and religious leaders. Govt in March lifted ban on cultivating peppers and trading in fish in Diffa region, in place on and off since 2015 to avoid BH using these activities to finance insurgency. Coalition of local NGOs 16 March protested in capital Niamey against Western support to armed forces that aims to contain jihadist violence and migration flows across Sahel, and 2019 budget, which they deem too costly to the poor. Ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS-Tarayya) 31 March elected Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum as its candidate in 2021 presidential election. Adviser to parliamentary speaker arrested in Guinea-Bissau mid-March in connection with 9 March seizure by security forces of almost 800kg of cocaine near Safim, country’s biggest ever seizure.
Violence continued to plague several border areas. In south east near Nigeria and Chad, Boko Haram (BH) attacks continued in Diffa region: suspected BH militants 1 Feb killed six in Bagué Djaradi village in reported settling of scores between rival BH factions; BH militants 15 Feb attacked military barracks in Chétimari, killing seven soldiers; two female BH militants 17 Feb blew themselves up in refugee camp near Bosso, killing four civilians; suspected BH militants 22 Feb attacked Garin-Amadou village near Bosso, at least four killed and seven missing. In Dosso region in south bordering Nigeria, unidentified assailants 13 Feb attacked security forces near Dogondoutchi, killing two gendarmes and one civilian. In Agadez region in north east near Libya, 121 members of Tebu rebel Movement for Justice and Rehabilitation of Niger (MJRN) 3 Feb surrendered to army at Madama after leaving southern Libya. MJRN 8 Feb denied any defections and said those who surrendered were economic migrants. Unidentified assailants ambushed and killed commander of military base of Dirkou, Agadez region on his way back from capital Niamey between Agadez and Dirkou in north 18 Feb. Ahead of 2021 presidential election, ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS-Tarayya) 10 Feb chose Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum as its candidate to succeed President Issoufou, who according to constitution cannot run since he will have completed second term. Issoufou dismissed Finance Minister and PNDS Secretary General Hassoumi Massaoudou from govt 1 Feb without giving reason.
Security forces continued to counter threats in south east and south near Nigerian and in south west near border with Burkina Faso. In Lake Chad area in south east, govt said week-long operation ending 3 Jan involving 700 troops and air support killed 287 “presumed members of Boko Haram”. Boko Haram militants 28 Jan attacked town of Bosso, Diffa region in south east, killing at least four. In border area of Maradi in south, joint operation with Nigeria against “group of extremist-infiltrated bandits” reportedly left five Nigerien and five Nigerian soldiers dead 1 Jan. In south west near border with Burkina Faso, unidentified armed men 3 Jan attacked security post in Torodi region, killing National Guard and wounding another.
Suspected jihadist groups continued attacks in south east near border with Nigeria and in west near borders with Mali and Burkina Faso. In south east, suspected members of Boko Haram (BH) 5 Dec killed three Fulani herdsmen near Ngalewa village, Diffa region; presumed members of BH faction Islamic State West Africa Province 14 Dec ambushed civilian convoy between N’Guigmi and Kabelawa, Diffa region, killing state official and two other civilians. In south west, armed assailants 15 Dec kidnapped traditional chief in Torodi area, Tillabery region, and headed toward Burkina Faso border; security forces supported by local population launched operation to rescue him, four assailants reportedly killed, along with one gendarme and one civilian. Traditional chief’s fate remained unclear. Army 17 Dec killed two suspected members of Islamic State in Greater Sahara near Tin Tadangawi, Tillabery region. French force Barkhane and army 29 Dec raided jihadist camp near Tongo Tongo, Tillabery region allegedly killing fifteen militants. UN refugee agency 13 Dec said violence along western borders with Mali and Burkina Faso had displaced 52,000 in 2018. Colonel and two senior officers reportedly arrested 15 Dec in capital Niamey for allegedly plotting coup.
Suspected jihadist groups stepped up attacks in south west near borders with Burkina Faso and Mali and suspected Boko Haram continued attacks in south east near border with Nigeria. Govt 3 Nov said army had destroyed several camps of alleged jihadists in south west in previous week. Unidentified assailants 17 Nov attacked gendarmerie post near Makalondi, 10km from Burkina Faso border in Tillabery region, killing two gendarmes before retreating across border. Armed assailants 30 Nov attacked police post in Tera town in south west, killing customs officer. Govt same day declared state of emergency in departments of Say, Torodi and Tera in Tillabery region in south west. In south east, suspected Boko Haram militants 22 Nov attacked French drilling company Foraco’s well site in Toumour, Diffa region, eight people killed; local authorities 24 Nov said suspected Boko Haram gunmen had kidnapped fifteen girls overnight in village near Toumour, Diffa region. U.S. media early Nov reported that U.S. military sent letters of reprimand to six personnel, including Air Force two-star general, for their roles in Oct 2017 operation near Tongo Tongo in which four American and four Nigerien soldiers were killed.
Security forces responded to rising banditry in Niger-Nigeria border area. Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum 10 Oct announced creation of Niger-Nigeria joint battalion at Madarounfa, Maradi region in south to counter insecurity in border area; Bazoum 16 Oct said that in three-week operation joint forces had killed 30 “bandits”, arrested a dozen and dismantled twelve bases. Govt 17 Oct renewed for three months state of emergency in Diffa region in south east and Tahoua and Tillabery regions in west bordering Mali. General Abu Tarka, head of govt’s High Authority for Consolidating Peace, 9 Oct said militants linked to jihadist groups were returning from Mali and asking to reintegrate into local communities. About 4,000 people demonstrated 6 Oct in capital Niamey against 2019 budget adopted by ministerial council in Sept. Authorities 5 Oct released three civil society leaders arrested in April during unauthorised gathering against fiscal measures. Govt and opposition early Oct agreed to revise electoral law.
Opposition and civil society continued to criticise President Issoufou for his alleged growing authoritarianism. Independent judges’ union Syndicat Autonome des Magistrats du Niger 6 Sept condemned what they saw as govt’s efforts to erode power of judiciary. Thousands demonstrated in capital Niamey 9 Sept against 2018 and 2019 finance laws. Govt mid-Sept extended for three months state of emergency in Diffa region in south east and in Tillabery and Tahoua regions in west. Unidentified individuals kidnapped two women in Gueskerou, Diffa region 3 Sept; women reportedly released in exchange for ransom 13 Sept. Unidentified assailants kidnapped Italian priest 17 Sept near Torodi, Tillabery region, close to border with Burkina Faso. New York Times 9 Sept revealed existence of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) base at Dirkou, Agadez region in north reportedly run by U.S. Central Intelligence Agency; U.S. Department of Defense runs two UAV bases, in Niamey and Agadez.
Alleged Boko Haram militants 8-9 Aug attacked Toumour village, Diffa region in south east, at least one civilian killed. Army 1 Aug clashed with unidentified assailants near Inates in west along border with Mali, at least one soldier killed. Amid govt crackdown on civil liberties and dissent, authorities closed several radio, television, and press outlets since start of July for alleged “non-payment of taxes”. Issoufou 5 Aug launched Niger Compact, $437mn grant from U.S. to support economic growth and investment; five U.S. senators warned authorities not to take anti-terrorist cooperation as green light to avoid governance responsibilities.
Suspected Boko Haram (BH) militants continued attacks in Diffa region in south east. Suspected BH 1 July attacked military position in Bla Brin village in Lake Chad area, killing six soldiers. BH militants 19-20 July attacked military post in Baroua village near border with Nigeria, killing soldier, ten BH also killed. High Court in capital Niamey 24 July handed three-month suspended prison sentences to several prominent civil rights activists detained since March on charges of unauthorised public gathering; activists released same day.
In far north, near borders with Chad and Libya, reported heavily armed Chadian bandits in seventeen vehicles, suspected of preying on artisanal gold mining operations, clashed with security forces 8-10 June, two soldiers reportedly killed; army with support of French and U.S. forces reportedly pursued bandits as they fled and reportedly crossed into Libya. Three Boko Haram suicide bombers (two female and one male) 4 June launched attacks on Quranic school in Diffa town in south east, killing at least nine. Govt 18 June renewed state of emergency in Diffa region in south east and Tillabery and Tahoua regions in west for three months. During President Issoufou’s visit to France 4 June, French media and NGOs denounced ongoing detention of 26 civil society leaders, “deterioration in civil liberties” and “authoritarian drift”; Issoufou called opposition activists “putschists”, vowed not to change constitution to seek third term in 2021.
Intercommunal violence escalated in Mali-Niger border area. Following reported killing of dozens of ethnic Dossaak and Fulani civilians in area late April, suspected members of Malian armed group Self-Defence Group of Imrad Tuareg and Allies (GATIA) – involved in counter-insurgency operations alongside national forces and supported by French forces – 18 May attacked Aghay village, Tillabery region, killing at least seventeen Fulani civilians. Hearings of over twenty civil society leaders arrested late March started 14 May: defence lawyers 11 May filed complaint citing arbitrary detention and irregular procedural standstill.
Security forces 15 April clashed with protesters demonstrating against fiscal measures in 2018 budget in capital Niamey and arrested three civil society leaders. Students demanding reinstatement of five classmates expelled mid-March clashed with security forces 18 April at University of Niamey, several students injured. In west, unidentified gunmen 11 April kidnapped German humanitarian worker 30km from Ayorou in Tillaberi region near Mali border. President Issoufou 1 April said govt will not engage in talks with Boko Haram for release of 39 women abducted in Diffa region in July 2017. FM Ibrahim Yacouba asked to resign 11 April, reportedly for opposition to electoral reforms he deemed non-transparent.
Malian ethnic militias and French forces stepped up joint operations against suspected jihadists in Mali-Niger border region: Self-Defence Group of Imrad Tuareg and Allies (GATIA) and Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA) and French Barkhane forces crossed border into western Niger several times in pursuit of suspected jihadists, handed over prisoners to Nigerien security forces (FDS) reportedly from 6 March. GATIA fighters 11 March accidentally clashed with FDS near Mangaize in Tillaberi region, one FDS reportedly killed. Armed individuals 12 March attacked gendarmerie position in Goubé village, Tillaberi region, 40km from capital Niamey, killing three gendarmes. Islamic State in the Greater Sahara 4 March claimed responsibility for 4 Oct 2017 ambush in Tongo Tongo village near border with Mali that killed four U.S. Special Forces and five FDS. U.S. military 14 March said its Special Forces had killed eleven suspected Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Diffa region 6 Dec 2017. Thousands 11 March marched in Niamey against 2018 tax bill, civil society representatives vowed to demonstrate until repeal of “unjust law”. Further protest against bill 25 March led to clashes with security forces and arrest of civil society representatives.
In south east, armed men abducted chief of Assaga village, less than 10km from Diffa. At summit of G5 Sahel (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania) in Niamey 6 Feb, President Issoufou took over presidency from Malian President Keita for one year and Nigerien Maman Sidikou took over as secretary general. At summit in Brussels 23 Feb, donors increased pledges for G5 Sahel joint force to total of €414mn, with EU increasing its contribution from €50mn to €100mn. Media outlets including radio stations, newspapers and TV channels suspended broadcasting 5 Feb to denounce govt pressure on journalists, including tighter financial scrutiny.
Suspected Boko Haram (BH) militants increased attacks in south east and insecurity persisted in west. In south east, suspected BH militants attacked army positions in Toumour, east of Diffa 17 Jan, reportedly killing at least seven soldiers, at least one civilian also killed. BH militants attacked National Guard outpost near Chetimari, about 20km from Diffa, at least two soldiers and several militants reportedly killed. Govt early Jan extended state of emergency for another three months and extended by unspecified period 31 Dec deadline for BH militants to surrender; 26 BH militants reportedly surrendered in Diffa 16 Jan. In west, armed men seen destroying communication posts in several places in Tillabery region mid-Jan; security forces claimed to have prevented assailants destroying communication posts in Banibangou area 17 Jan, killing up to fifteen. Civil society-led protests against 2018 finance law continued 14 Jan in Niamey, Zinder and Dosso.
Govt and U.S. signed agreement 2 Dec authorising U.S. to conduct drone strikes against armed groups in Niger. At summit on joint force of G5 Sahel countries (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania) in Paris 13 Dec, Saudi Arabia pledged $100mn and United Arab Emirates $30mn toward force. Police prevented civil society-led protests against 2018 finance law 22 Dec, but several thousand protested in capital Niamey 31 Dec. Following reports of sub-Saharan migrants being sold as slaves in Libya, first 500 Nigerien migrants repatriated from Libya to Niger 8 Dec; govt said it would repatriate all Nigerien migrants in Libya.
Joint force of Sahel G5 countries (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania) conducted first operation in Burkina-Mali-Niger border area 27 Oct-11 Nov involving troops from three host countries. Govt 6 Nov said it would allow U.S. to use drones to conduct strikes on suspected militants. After protests against planned 2018 budget led to clashes between protestors and police 29 Oct, three leaders of civil society collective that organised protests faced sentences of five years in prison mid-Nov, charges dropped 24 Nov.
Gunmen allegedly from Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) led by Abu Walid Al Sahroaui ambushed mixed Niger-U.S. military patrol near Tongo Tongo village, in Tillabery region in west near Mali border 4 Oct, killing five Nigerien and four U.S. soldiers. Security forces arrested chief of Tongo Tongo for alleged involvement in ambush. Assailants attacked gendarmerie post at Ayorou, Tillabery region 21 Oct killing at least thirteen gendarmes. Chad completed withdrawal of its troops from Diffa region in south east which began late Sept, officially to reinforce presence in northern Chad; govt declared south east no-go zone for Westerners, fearing abductions. Following UN Security Council meeting on planned G5 Sahel joint force to counter Islamist militancy and trafficking 30 Oct, U.S. Sec State Tillerson pledged up to $60mn in support. French President Macron 9 Oct said France would in next two years offer resettlement to 10,000 refugees, of which 3,000 would be from Chad and Niger.
Alleged Boko Haram (BH) militants 6 Sept tried to abduct four villagers in Koutou, Diffa region in south east; three reportedly escaped, one killed. Alleged BH 7 Sept abducted child near Nguigmi, Diffa region. Govt 16 Sept extended by three months state of emergency in Diffa region and in Tillaberi and Tahoua regions on Mali border in west.
Army 18 Aug allegedly killed 39 Boko Haram (BH) militants near Barwa, Diffa region in south east. International Office for Migration 9 Aug said 1,000 West African migrants abandoned by smugglers in north rescued since April.
Jihadist activity continued in west along Mali border. Jihadist coalition Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM) claimed 5 July ambush on military convoy that killed five soldiers in Midal valley, Tahoua region, supposedly under influence of other jihadist group Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS). Mali-based Tuareg and Doosaak groups reportedly killed seven Fulani herders at Anderaboukhane on Mali-Niger border 11 July. Boko Haram (BH) attacks rose again in Diffa region in south east: alleged BH militants 2 July killed nine civilians and abducted dozens in Ngalewa village, looting food and cattle. Soldiers 6 July killed fourteen unarmed civilians in restricted access area around Abadam village, mistaking them for BH militants. At summit of G5 Sahel (Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania) in Bamako 1-2 July, members each pledged €10mn to finance 5,000-strong joint military force to counter jihadism in region (see Mali). Authorities increasingly harassed journalists and civil society: journalist Ali Soumana imprisoned and charged 3 July with stealing official documents and “violating the secrecy of the investigation” into case involving govt and Lebanese company.
Military 3 June arrested six alleged members of Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) accused of involvement in 31 May attack at Abala in Tillabery region in west that killed six security personnel. Govt 16 June extended state of emergency for three months in Tillabery and Tahoua regions in west. Alleged Boko Haram fighters 6 June attacked Garin Dogo village in Diffa region in south east, no casualties reported. Two female suicide bombers 28 June attacked refugee camp in Kabelewa village near Diffa town, two bombers and two others killed. African Union 3 June pledged support to efforts of Sahel G5 (Niger, Mali, Chad, Mauritania and Burkina Faso) against jihadism and EU 5 June promised €50mn to support G5 joint military force; UN Security Council 21 June adopted resolution endorsing G5 force but did not authorise use of force.
Jihadist violence emanating from Mali continued in west and armed violence continued in Diffa region in south east. Unidentified assailants 11 May attacked police station in Ayerou, Tillaberi region near Mali border, stole weapons and five vehicles, no casualties reported. Govt 4 May agreed with other G5 Sahel countries (Mali, Chad, Mauritania and Burkina Faso) to create joint military force by end of 2017 to counter jihadists and organised crime and 9 May signed agreement with Chad and Mali to strengthen judicial cooperation in fight against terrorism and cross-border crime enabling three countries to arrest, prosecute and convict each other’s nationals. Ethnic Kanuri trader abducted mid-May near Diffa and mediator in charge of negotiating surrender of BH members killed mid-May in Diffa region. Security forces 10 May in Niamey dispersed civil society protest which had been banned on grounds of public order. Unidentified assailants 27 May attacked police station in Tillaberi region in south west near border with Burkina Faso, killing two police and one Ivorian civilian. Civil society activist Abdourahmane Insar, who called for protests against alleged govt corruption, arrested in Agadez in north for “incitement to violence” 13 May. Opposition politician Amadou Djibo arrested 15 May for comments at opposition meeting critical of govt. Civil society representative Ali Idrissa briefly detained 20 and 22 May for involvement in alleged coup plot.
After lull in Boko Haram (BH) attacks in Diffa region in SE since end-2016, BH 29 March ambushed Nigerien-Chadian military in Boulatoungour, three BH and one soldier killed; BH 9 April attacked army position in Gueskerou, govt said security forces killed at least 57 militants including “emir”. Ethnic tensions threatened to rise again in Agadez region in north: Ibrahim Ag Alambo, arms smuggler and relative of leader of former Tuareg rebel group Nigerien Movement for Justice (MNJ), 6 April announced creation of militia to protect Tuareg from bandits. In response, alleged Toubou representative said move would prompt creation of Toubou self-defence group. Dissident journalist Baba Alpha and civil society activist Maikoul Zodi, accused of fraud in separate cases, arrested 3 and 5 April respectively; Amnesty International said arrests “arbitrary”. Students 10 April protested in several cities against studying conditions; one killed in Niamey in clashes with security forces; students 17 April declared open-ended strike. After deal struck 21 April, classes resumed 26 April.
In response to rise in cross-border attacks from Mali by suspected jihadists in previous months, govt 3 March declared state of emergency in some departments in Tillabéri and Tahoua regions in west. Unidentified gunmen 6 March killed at least five gendarmes in Wanzarbe village, Tillabéri region. During visit of UNSC delegation to Niger, President Issoufou 4 March advocated SC resolution endorsing planned counter-terrorism joint task force of G5 Sahel countries. Boko Haram (BH) attacks in SE continued to fall. Trials of about 1,000 suspected BH fighters began 2 March. Diffa region governor 1 March convened meeting to address intercommunal tensions following clashes between farmers and herders late Feb. Opposition supporters 4 March protested in capital Niamey against alleged govt corruption, poor living conditions and foreign military bases in country, called for release of “political prisoners”, including people arrested in connection with Dec 2015 alleged military coup plot. Govt 24 March released several people suspected of involvement in 2015 coup plot. Parliament 17 March voted to establish parliamentary commission of inquiry into alleged involvement of Finance Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou in possible embezzlement of $320mn linked to sale of uranium in 2011; commission started hearings 27 March.
Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) regional force continued to prepare offensive against Boko Haram (BH) bases on Lake Chad islands in Niger and Nigeria. Security forces 3 Feb dismantled presumed BH cell in Baban Rafi, Maradi region in south centre. Heads of state of G5 Sahel (Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad) in Bamako, Mali’s capital 6-7 Feb pledged to create joint task force to fight terrorism. Following call of civil society groups and opposition parties, thousands 4 Feb protested in Niamey against govt’s alleged poor governance, high cost of living and presence of Western military bases. Suspected jihadists 22 Feb ambushed military patrol 200km N of Niamey near border with Mali killing sixteen soldiers; France 25 Feb said it would send counter-terror contingent to support armed forces.
Boko Haram (BH) 1 Jan attacked army position in Baroua, Diffa region in SE killing three soldiers; fifteen BH killed. Govt said twenty BH members surrendered in Diffa region 4 Jan. Suspected BH members early Jan killed two civilians in charge of negotiating surrender of BH with authorities. BH 21 Jan raided army position in Gueskerou, Diffa region, killing two soldiers; dozens of combatants reportedly killed. In response to protest against President Issoufou’s policies and regime corruption in capital Niamey in Dec, thousands joined presidential coalition march in Niamey 8 Jan. Govt, Mali and Burkina Faso 24 Jan agreed to create joint military force to counter insecurity in border areas in Liptako-Gourma zone. Issoufou 13 Jan signed bilateral agreements with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman including on security cooperation and education funding. IMF 23 Jan approved $134mn three-year arrangement supporting national plan for economic development.
Govt 27 Dec said 31 Nigerien Boko Haram (BH) members had surrendered to security forces in Diffa region in SE. Govt 28 Dec announced amnesty and reintegration program for former BH. Netherlands 10 Dec promised €1m to International Organization for Migration in Niger to encourage African migrants to return voluntarily from Europe to home countries. 900 migrants deported from Algeria arrived in Agadez, central Niger, same day.
Boko Haram (BH) insurgents decreased attacks but remained present in SE. BH fighters early Nov reportedly crossed from Nigeria to Niger, leading regional Multinational Joint Task Force to increase border patrols and raise alert level. Alleged BH insurgents 18-19 Nov killed at least three civilians in Bosso. Jihadists from Mali maintained pressure on security forces in west: alleged jihadists 8 Nov attacked military outpost in Bani Bangou near Malian border killing five soldiers, four others reported missing. Fulani herdsmen killed Hausa farmer in Bangui, Tahoua region in south 1 Nov sparking intercommunal fighting that killed twenty including women, children and elders; interior minister 2 Nov met Hausa and Fulani community leaders in Bangui to ease tensions. In following days, 38 people reportedly arrested for alleged involvement in killings.
Suspected jihadists based in N Mali launched deadly attacks in west Niger. Gunmen 6 Oct attacked army position in Tazalit, Tahoua region in west, killing 22 security personnel and seizing three military vehicles, ambulance and weapons before crossing into Mali; gunmen killed security guard and National Guard and abducted American NGO worker in Abalak, Tahoua region 14 Oct; gunmen allegedly part of Islamic State battalion in Sahel unsuccessfully tried to storm Koutoukalé prison near Niamey 17 Oct. Germany 5 Oct said it would deploy soldiers in Niger to support UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA). German Chancellor Merkel 10 Oct met President Issoufou in Niamey, promised €27mn to support military efforts against violent extremism in region. Conflict resolution framework, National Council for Political Dialogue (CNDP), 4 Oct postponed local elections planned for Jan 2017 to “harmonise electoral law”. Opposition members boycotted CNDP meeting, said postponement unlawful and evidence of authoritarian drift.
Security situation in Diffa region in south east remained critical. Alleged Boko Haram (BH) fighters attacked inhabitants in Toumour 2-3 Sept, casualties unclear. IED killed two soldiers and wounded two others near Barwa 8 Sept. Alleged BH fighters ambushed army convoy near Toumour 12 Sept, killing five, wounding six; security officials said army killed 30 BH. Govt 6 Sept said it would deploy U.S.-trained elite police in Diffa region to secure border with Nigeria. In north east new Tebu armed group, Movement for Justice and Rehabilitation of Niger, 6 Sept threatened to resort to violence to obtain “fundamental rights” for Tebu minority and protect environment near oil sites.
Alleged Boko Haram attack at Kimégana, Diffa region (SE) 15 Aug killed at least five, injured one. Opposition party National Movement for Development of Society-Nassara mid-Aug decided to join ruling majority, responding to President Issoufou’s call to form unity govt.
Despite decrease of Boko Haram (BH) attacks in SE, govt 29 July extended state of emergency in Diffa region until Oct. Niger component of regional Multinational Joint Task Force 25 July reportedly launched large-scale military operation against BH in N Nigeria. Arrests and judicial action against political opponents and civil society representatives continued: seven members of opposition party Moden Lumana, close to former presidential candidate Hama Amadou, sentenced to ten months’ prison 12 July following arrest in Nov 2015 for “armed gathering and public disorder”.
Boko Haram (BH) significantly increased attacks in SE Diffa region and regional counter-BH Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) reportedly launched major offensive. BH insurgents 3 June attacked Bosso town, killing 26 soldiers, looting weapons and ammunition and forcing army to leave temporarily; insurgents 9 June temporarily forced army out of Kabelewa, looted town; insurgents 16 June reportedly attacked military barracks at Ghafam, Diffa region, killed seven military personnel and same day attacked refugee camp near Diffa. President Issoufou 7 June asked Chadian President Déby for military support. Army general 21 June said MNJTF including Chadian and Nigerian troops had launched major offensive to eliminate BH along Niger-Nigeria border.
Alleged Boko Haram (BH) fighters reportedly attacked civilians in SE several times: 3 May broke into medical centre in N’Garwa, Diffa region, stole food and medical equipment; 19 May reportedly killed at least six civilians in Yebi, Bosso district and burned village. Govt said army 27 May repelled BH attack in Bosso district, killing ten BH. Fulani and Mohamid Arab armed groups reportedly clashed repeatedly with alleged BH insurgents during month along shore of Lake Chad.
President Issoufou sworn in 2 April for second five-year term. Opposition 17 April ended its boycott of state institutions which began following late-March presidential run-off, but reiterated rejection of election results. Issoufou 11 April formed new govt comprising mainly members of ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) party, despite late March pledge to create “govt of national unity”. In SE Boko Haram maintained pressure on military and civilians; 6 April suicide attack near Diffa killed two civilians.
President Issoufou re-elected with 92.49% of vote in peaceful second round election 20 March; opposition boycotted poll over allegedly rigged first round, demanded Constitutional Court reject results. Opposition leader Doudou Rahama arrested 15 March after calling on supporters not to vote for Issoufou; opposition Coalition for Change (COPA) accused regime of trying to muzzle opposition, called for Rahama’s release. Doctor of imprisoned opposition leader and runner-up in first round vote Hama Amadou detained 16-19 March for “spreading false news” about his patient. Court 29 March provisionally released Amadou. After Electoral Commission published provisional results 22 March, Issoufou called for roundtable with opposition. Though skeptical, COPA opposition coalition 29 March declared itself willing to engage in dialogue with regime. Security situation precarious: Boko Haram 16 March attacked security forces in Bosso, Diffa region, killed one and wounded two; 30 March ambushed army near Diffa town, killed six soldiers; alleged al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) assailants same day attacked police station in Dolbel, Tillabery region near Burkina Faso border, killed three police.
Tensions heightened ahead of 21 Feb presidential elections: during opposition rallies security forces 2-3 Feb clashed with supporters of opposition candidate Hama Amadou. Police 9 Feb arrested Amadou supporter and famous singer Hamsou Garba and detained her for one week for allegedly inciting civil disobedience, fuelling opposition accusations of govt’s authoritarian drift. Govt 13 Feb accused opposition of planning to tamper with votes after customs officer seized 20,000 ballots with Amadou’s name checked; Amadou’s party argued ballots were to show militants how to vote, accused govt of trying to undermine his credibility. Presidential vote held peacefully 21 Feb; opposition parties 23 Feb threatened to reject results and accused govt of rigging vote. CENI published results 26 Feb: Mahamadou Issoufou won 48.45% but will face Amadou, who won 17.76%, in run-off elections 20 March. Presidential coalition easily won parliamentary majority. Boko Haram attacks slowed in Diffa region but security situation remained precarious; OCHA 8 Feb reported some 2 million Nigeriens face food insecurity.
Defence Minister Karidjo Mahamadou 13 Jan said govt has evidence of thirteen individuals’ involvement in Dec alleged coup attempt, amid opposition claims that arrests are part of govt attempt to retain power ahead of Feb presidential vote. Concerns over govt’s authoritarian tendencies persisted including statement by influential tribal leaders 7 Jan expressing concern over deteriorating political climate following 31 Dec arrest of opposition figure Amadou Boubacar Cissé. Govt 10 Jan banned opposition protests citing security risks; opposition accused govt of trying to muzzle opposition. International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF), tasked with reviewing electoral process, 4 Jan published report underlining shortcomings in voter rolls; said flaws could be fixed before elections, but opposition claimed that “mistakes” in voter rolls signalled govt’s attempt to hijack electoral process. Presidential campaigns launched 30 Jan ahead of planned 21 Feb elections. Govt 30 Jan extended state of emergency in Diffa region for three months as security and humanitarian situation remained critical amid slowed but ongoing Boko Haram attacks.
President Issoufou 17 Dec announced a foiled coup attempt following 15-16 Dec arrest of four high-ranking military officers; civilians including politicians and journalists also arrested in following days. Disagreements between govt and opposition intensified ahead of planned Feb presidential elections. Opposition 7 Dec refused to recognise expertise of ECOWAS envoy Bakary Fofana, appointed early-Dec to assess quality of electoral process following accusations by opposition of pro-govt bias within Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), said his alleged links with govt made him partial and unreliable. Govt 12 Dec offered to create joint electoral register audit committee (CAFE); opposition 15 Dec left CAFE, asked for independent and credible international agency to assess electoral process. Opposition welcomed 23 Dec CENI decision to request electoral monitoring assistance from the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF). Attacks by radical Islamist group Boko Haram (BH) decreased, but insecurity persisted in SE.
Insecurity persisted in south as Boko Haram (BH) militants continued to target security forces (FDS) and civilians. FDS convoy ambushed 3 Nov near Dagaya village, killing one soldier; FDS 5 Nov raided suspected BH hideouts near village, govt 11 Nov reported FDS killed some twenty BH insurgents. BH 26 Nov attacked Gogone village near Bosso, eighteen villagers killed. Thousands gathered 1 Nov in Niamey to protest govt’s “heavy hand” on opposition, called for open and credible elections. President Issoufou 7 Nov announced plan to seek re-election; court decision forbidding political gatherings in Zinder sparked clashes between FDS and protesters same day. Some 30 parliamentarians 11 Nov issued motion to try president for “treason”, accusing him of collusion in 2014 corruption case. Former minister and presidential candidate Hama Amadou, exiled in France over charges of child trafficking, arrested 14 Nov upon arrival in Niamey; clashes between supporters and FDS ensued. Reporters Without Borders 27 Nov reported increasing arrests of journalists ahead of presidential elections.
Boko Haram (BH) attacks continued in SE; govt 14 Oct reinstated state of emergency in Diffa region. BH 3 Oct attacked security forces (FDS) base in Bosso village, two soldiers killed. Suicide attack 4 Oct in Diffa killed one police and five civilians. ECOWAS delegation 5-9 Oct met with govt officials, civil society representatives, opposition leaders and religious spokesmen, stressed need for peaceful political process ahead of planned 2016 presidential and local elections.
Nigerien Democratic Movement (MODEN) 13 Sept named Hama Amadou, former National Assembly President exiled in France over accusations of child trafficking, their presidential candidate. UN Special Rep for W Africa Ibn Chambas 11 Sept called for fair and inclusive elections, said UNOWA willing to assist with electoral preparations. UN 17 Sept condemned worsening humanitarian crisis in Diffa region amid continued Boko Haram (BH) violence including 24 Sept BH attack in N’Gourtoua that killed over a dozen civilians.
Humanitarian crisis in Diffa region worsened amid intensified Boko Haram (BH) attacks in NE Nigeria and Lake Chad islands. Opposition coalition Alliance for Reconciliation, Democracy (ARDR) 10 Aug reiterated rejection of electoral timeline announced 29 July, deemed it “not consensual” as opposition not consulted, argued holding general elections before local ones constitutes violation of electoral and constitutional laws. Suspected BH attack 27 Aug in SE killed three, including soldier.
Boko Haram (BH) attacks continued in Diffa region near Nigerian border including 15 July attack that left some twelve villagers dead and 18 July attack in Bosso that left sixteen dead. Army reported forces killed some 32 BH fighters 15-17 July. Electoral commission 29 July announced upcoming election dates: first round of presidential elections planned 21 Feb 2016, second round 20 March 2016 and local elections 9 May 2016.
Boko Haram (BH) attack 17 June left some 38 dead in Diffa region, near border with Nigeria. Army 26 June reported fifteen BH insurgents killed, twenty captured; following BH attack 22 June on Yebbi village, Diffa, killing five villagers. Thousands protested 6 June to denounce humanitarian situation in Diffa, warned govt against further authoritarian abuse, following 18 May arrest of prominent NGO leader who criticised govt handling of refugees in Diffa. President Issoufou 2 June met with French President Hollande, both called on all states in Lake Chad region to strengthen cooperation in fight against Islamist groups.
25,000 civilians forced to flee Lake Chad region early May after govt 30 April announced regional sweep operation to neutralise remaining Boko Haram (BH) elements in area and issued 72-hour ultimatum for civilian evacuation. BH 5-6 May ransacked Kouwodou and Kilbouwa villages, five civilians reportedly killed. Minister of security 28 May said some 643 people linked to BH insurgents arrested Feb-May. Representatives from Mauritania, Niger, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso 11-15 May gathered in Niamey to discuss migration to Europe, Islamist activity in Sahel, 14 May declared willingness to strengthen regional cooperation and intelligence-sharing on Islamist groups in region. Govt 11 May adopted illegal immigration bill to tackle human traffickers operating from Agadez.
Military operations against Boko Haram (BH) continued. BH 25 April attacked military base in Karamga Island, Lake Chad; Interior Minister Hassoumi Massoudou reported some 50 soldiers, 26 island residents and 156 militants killed. Opposition 6 April announced boycott of 2016 polls if govt continued alleged manipulation of internal dissentions following 20 March dissolution of opposition-led N’Gourti municipal council in Diffa region.
Offensive to expel Boko Haram (BH) continued: thousands of Nigerien and Chadian soldiers 8 March pushed BH back onto Nigerian soil. Remnants of BH continued attacks in Bosso, Diffa regions: BH 1 March attacked Kui Keleha and Toumbu Buka islands, killing nineteen civilians; IED exploded 4 March 10km from Diffa, two soldiers killed. National Police 10 March said BH attacks on Nigerien soil killed 24 soldiers and police in previous month. President Issoufou 4 March met Chadian President Déby, expressed will to strengthen military cooperation against BH.
Series of violent Boko Haram (BH) attacks in Diffa region targeting Bosso and Diffa cities. Attacks prompted increasingly strong govt response. Defence Minister Mahamadou Karidjo 6 Feb said 100 BH insurgents, four soldiers died during attack on Bosso; same day bombing of Diffa compelled Chadian, Nigerien forces to launch air-strikes on BH position. Bomb detonated in Diffa central market 9 Feb killed five, wounded twenty. Parliament 10 Feb voted unanimously to send 750 soldiers to reinforce regional military cooperation, authorised army to fight on Nigerian territory as part of regional response against BH insurgency. Authorities 17 Feb arrested some 160 suspected of BH links: thousands same day took to streets in support of army. National Assembly 26 Feb voted unanimously to extend Diffa state of emergency for three months.
Large demonstrations in Niamey, Agadez, Zinder 16-17 Jan over President Issoufou’s participation in 11 Jan Paris march against Charlie Hebdo attack; bars, churches, offices of ruling Nigerien Party for Socialism and Democracy (PSDN) burned, dozens arrested. Interior ministry 18 Jan banned opposition march; PM Brigi Rafini same day urged calm. Govt 22 Jan blocked social networking sites throughout country, interior minister same day noted move was to avoid disturbances before 23 Jan day of prayer; connections reopened same day. President Issoufou 27 Jan announced increased cooperation with Algerian President Bouteflika to stem jihadi threat in Sahel. Diffa Mayor expressed concerns about Boko Haram (BH) popularity among youth. Humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate in Diffa region, host to some 150,000 Nigerian refugees; govt 27 Jan lifted 2013 ban on refugee camps in south. Chadian troops early-Jan present in eastern Niger for offensive against BH; 8 Jan entered northern Nigeria and took over Malam Fatori occupied by BH since Oct. Court 30 Jan dropped baby trafficking case against former National Assembly head Hama Amadou.
Govt 12 Dec requested international aid for worsening humanitarian crisis in Diffa region following mass influx of Nigerian refugees. Violence continued near border with Mali including three civilians abducted 4 Dec near Inekar.
Nigerien leader of group linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) allegedly arrested 9 Nov near border in Algeria. Effects of Nigerian Boko Haram insurgency intensified: some 12,000 civilians fled to Niger’s Diffa region following 9 Nov fighting in Malam Fatori, Nigeria; Nigerian refugees in Diffa now total over 105,000. Increased border security measures implemented 28 Nov to prevent infiltration of jihadi insurgents. Countries contributing to UN peacekeeping mission in Mali 5 Nov met in Niamey to discuss Mali security, Niger indicated willingness to play greater role in regional security. Amid tensions over child trafficking charges brought against former National Assembly President Hama Hamadou, currently in France after fleeing in Aug, FM Mohamed Bazoum said no international arrest warrant would be issued. Amadou Salifou elected president of National Assembly 25 Nov; 42 opposition members boycotted vote.
Parliamentary session 1 Oct started without head of National Assembly Hama Amadou, exiled in France following warrant for arrest over baby trafficking accusations; Hama requested delay to 7 Oct; majority of opposition boycotted session. Govt spokesperson and Justice Minister Marou Amadou 26 Oct said Hama “no longer president of the National Assembly”; Hama supporters denied his removal. Nine security force members killed 30 Oct in Tillabéry region near Mali border; defence and interior ministries accused “terrorist elements”. Niger 7 Oct hosted regional summit to coordinate efforts to curb Boko Haram insurgency; multinational force of 700 soldiers planned to be operational by late-Nov. French Barkhane operation strengthened its presence in Madama, north-eastern Niger; French forces 10 Oct reportedly destroyed al-Qaeda convoy in northern Niger.
Opposition figure and head of National Assembly Hama Amadou accused of complicity in baby trafficking, 7 Sept fled to France, said probe politically-motivated, accused govt of attempted poisoning; FM Bazoum Mohamed denied accusations; court 26 Sept issued national arrest warrant for Amadou. Ten opposition MPs 16 Sept filed lawsuit for misuse of public funds following announcement of new €30mn presidential plane. Authorities 1 Sept authorised 2nd U.S. drone base in Agadez; France Defence Minister Le Drian 9 Sept said Barkhane operation to extend in northern Niger, possibly southern Libya. Influx of Nigerian refugees fleeing Boko Haram violence continued in south-east.
3 opposition National Movement for the Development of Society (MNSD) figures arrested 2 Aug after holding unauthorised meeting in Zinder; 2 quickly released, 1 detained for “spreading false information”. Minister of Agriculture Abdou Labo arrested and charged 23 Aug for complicity in baby trafficking; opposition figure and head of National Assembly Hama Amadou 27 Aug fled to Burkina Faso and later France after wife’s arrest and lifting of parliamentary immunity, said probe politically motivated. President Issoufou 2 Aug announced deal with Chad’s govt to export Niger’s oil through Chadian pipeline.
Late May uranium deal between govt and French nuclear company AREVA continued to fuel civil society discontent: unions early July denounced unequal deal, layoffs, salary cuts. 10 NGO activists opposing AREVA detained 18 July ahead of visit by French President Hollande to discuss security challenges.
6 senior opposition Moden party members remanded in custody and charged with “violating the security of the state” following late May arrest of 40 militants; others released 31 May and 3 June. Opposition coalition 10 June called for ECOWAS mediation to solve political crisis; 15 June led peaceful anti-govt protest in Niamey. 59 of 72 Niamey University students arrested 20 May released 11 June, strike suspended.
Opposition Democratic Movement (MODEN) leader Hama Amadou 2 May requested Supreme Court settle dispute over his position after representatives of President Issoufou’s ruling coalition argued Hama cannot remain National Assembly president; court 9 May confirmed Hama to remain assembly president until next presidential or legislative election. Govt 25 May reportedly arrested 40 opposition members close to Hama, including Hama’s son, for plotting regime’s overthrow, also announced closure of pro-opposition daily Le Courrier; authorities 30 May imposed ban on opposition demonstrations. Hama 31 May alleged unidentified people attempted to bribe his staff to assassinate him. Boko Haram members 6 May reportedly attacked army patrol in Diffa region.
Govt 9 April extradited 10 senior Libyan officials of former Qadhafi regime. Humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate; UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Sahel warned of looming food crisis, urged international community to provide more financial support.
Agadez police 7 March released NGO umbrella group Committee for Renewal and Innovation (CRI) coordinator and SG, arrested with 8 others following 21 Feb demonstration against permanent ban on public protests. Agadez mayor again banned planned CRI demonstration 5 March. U.S. sponsored military exercises “Flintlock 2014” in N and E, for capacity-building in fight against terrorism, drug trafficking. Refugee influx from N Nigeria continued; UNHCR said 40,000 concentrated in Diffa region, expressed concern about possible infiltrations by Boko Haram militants.
Regime cracked down on media: govt briefly arrested 3 radio journalists 13 Feb following interview with union leader Ismael Salifou, accused trio of using “offensive language” against President Issoufou. Justice Minister Marou Amadou warned he would not tolerate media “abuses”, which he claimed “foment ethnic hatred”. Agadez police 20 Feb arrested 20 protesters, 2 local civil society leaders 26 Feb. Authorities 17 Feb arrested some 20 Boko Haram militants suspected of planning attacks in SE. Interior minister 5 Feb called on France and U.S. to intervene in southern Libya to “eradicate terrorist threat”.
Protests in Niamey over living standards continued; several journalists detained late Jan. Security operation along Mali-Niger border to deter MUJAO from using zone launched mid-Jan by French military in cooperation with Malian and Nigerien forces. Authorities 25-27 Jan detained 4 journalists for alleging President Issoufou is corrupt.
French forces in Mali late Nov arrested Cheibani Ould Hama, who escaped from Niamey prison during June attack by Islamist militants; extradition expected. Police late Nov arrested man linked to Cheïbani allegedly preparing terrorist attacks in Niamey. Govt, AREVA still negotiating renewal of contracts over uranium extraction, which expire end-Dec; over 1,000 protested in Niamey 21 Dec demanding AREVA pay more taxes.
Security forces 17 Nov dismantled vast human trafficking network after death of 92 migrants in Sahara late Oct. EU 12 Nov announced General Francisco Espinosa Navas, former head of capacity-building mission “EUCAP Sahel Niger”, will be replaced by Filip De Ceuninck.
Main political parties remain divided over participation in new national unity govt; new parliament opened 4 Oct but composition of presidential majority remains unclear. Main opposition leaders, including current National Assembly president Hama Amadou, 5 Oct formed coalition Republican Alliance for Democracy and Reconciliation (ARDR). Demonstrators 15 Oct gathered in Arlit to protest French Mining Company Areva’s lack of investments and impact on environment. AQIM 29 Oct released 4 French hostages abducted 2010, allegedly in return for immunity for Mali Ansar Dine leader Iyad ag Ghali. At least 87 migrants found dead near Algerian border 30 Oct.
Security forces clashed violently with narco-trafficking armed groups in Tenere valley, near Libya-Algeria border 3-4 Sept. FM Mohamed Bazoum 18 Sept stated country would welcome presence of U.S. armed drones on its territory to fight terrorists and drug trafficking. Mauritanian news agency ANI 16 Sept released AQIM video showing 4 Frenchmen abducted in Niger in 2010.
President Issoufou 14 Aug appointed national unity govt, citing need to reinforce political stability and address regional security threats; opponents claimed move intended to neutralise rivals before next presidential election; Moden Lumana party 22 Aug announced withdrawal from ruling coalition. Multinational Joint Task Force, comprising intelligence operatives from Niger and Nigeria, 1 Aug reported Boko Haram training instructor and accomplices arrested in Karanga in East. Police 8 Aug arrested reported member of MUJAO sleeper cell in eastern Niger. Govt renewed commitment to stabilisation of Mali; new contingent of 850 troops left Niamey 4 Aug, to be integrated within UN-led MINUSMA.
AQIM dissident branch “Blood Signatories”, led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, claimed responsibility for June attack on Niamey prison. Niger and Chad 8 July signed agreements to enhance security service cooperation and border control; U.S. 9 July donated military material including 2 planes to army to help fight Islamist groups in region.
Several prisoners including Nigerian Boko Haram militants and arms dealer 1 June escaped Niamey central jail during gunfight. Gunfire exchanged 11 June at Niamey military training camp, no casualties reported; govt attributed firing to guards’ nervousness.
At least 26 killed, dozens injured in coordinated suicide attacks on military barracks in Agadez and uranium mine in Arlit 23 May; Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) claimed responsibility, said it is “punishing Niger for deploying troops to Mali”; “Blood Signatories” brigade led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar reportedly supervised operations. French-Nigerien special forces 24 May killed 2 more jihadis holding out at Agadez barracks. President Issoufou 25 May said assailants came from Libya; Libyan authorities vehemently rejected claim. UN OCHA announced 800,000 people will require food aid in coming months.