CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, a tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.
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.