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Jihadists scaled down attacks against security forces in west and continued to target civilians in south east. In Tillabéry region in west near Mali and Burkina Faso, unidentified gunmen 1 Feb raided hotel in Ayorou town, killing civilian; suspected members of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara 6 Feb killed five civilians in Molia village and 10 Feb attacked Ayorou police station, killing two policemen. Govt 22 Feb said military and French Barkhane troops killed 120 suspected jihadists in joint operation in west 1-20 Feb. In Diffa region in south east near Nigeria, suspected Boko Haram (BH) militants 3 Feb killed three civilians in Kangouri and Makintari villages; BH faction Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) 7 Feb killed six civilians they accused of providing supplies to Abubakar Shekau-led rival BH faction (Jama’tu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, JAS) in Gogone village; suspected jihadists 11-12 Feb abducted five civilians south of Ngagam village; inhabitants of Lamana village 12-13 Feb reportedly killed unspecified number of suspected jihadists; also in Diffa region, twenty refugees 18 Feb died in stampede during aid distribution. African Union 27 Feb announced temporary deployment of 3,000-strong force to combat jihadist groups in Sahel.
Jihadists continued to step up attacks against security forces in west and target civilians in south east, leaving scores dead, while President Issoufou doubled down on commitment to maintain French military presence. Suspected Islamic State (ISIS) militants 9 Jan attacked military base in Chinégodar, Tillabery region in west near Malian border, killing at least 89 soldiers – deadliest single attack against security forces in country’s history, four weeks after suspected ISIS’s Sahel affiliate killed 71 soldiers in same region. Govt 13 Jan removed armed forces chief and army chief. After govt 1 Jan banned use of motorbikes in Tillabery region, hundreds protested 18 Jan in Tillabery against restrictions on free movement and worsening security situation. In Diffa region in south east, suspected Boko Haram militants 9 Jan reportedly kidnapped eighteen civilians in Toumour. After President Issoufou and other G5 Sahel heads of state met with French President Macron in Pau, France 13 Jan and agreed to step up military cooperation with France to counter jihadist threat in Sahel, security forces 17 Jan fired tear gas at protesters in capital Niamey demanding departure of French forces, and Issoufou 20 Jan reiterated commitment to French military presence. Security forces 4 Jan dispersed weeks-long sit-in protest of asylum seekers demanding better living conditions and shorter processing times in front of UN Refugee Agency offices in Agadez; police arrested 335 protesters and forced others back to camp, which some set alight.
Jihadists continued to launch attacks in west – including deadliest single attack against security forces in country’s history – and south east. In west near Malian border, suspected members of Islamic State’s Sahel affiliate 9 Dec launched suicide attack against army base in Agando, Tahoua region, killing three soldiers. Two days later, militants from same group attacked military base in Inates, Tillabery region, killing 71 soldiers, prompting President Issoufou to hold emergency meeting of National Security Council 12 Dec and emergency G5 Sahel heads of state meeting 15 Dec in capital Niamey. Suspected jihadist militants 25 Dec ambushed army convoy in Sanam, Tillabery region, killing fourteen soldiers. Jihadist violence also continued in Diffa region in south east near Nigeria. Suspected Boko Haram (BH) militants 1 Dec reportedly killed three in Riari village near Bosso. Suspected jihadists 7 Dec reportedly abducted ten women and girls in Gueskerou commune. Also in Diffa region, 125 former BH militants completed deradicalisation program at facility in Goundamaria 7 Dec; govt said they would start going back to their villages 9 Dec.
In run-up to 2020 presidential and legislative elections, main opposition leader returned from exile, and suspected jihadists continued attacks in west. Former national assembly president and runner-up in 2016 presidential election Hama Amadou returned 14 Nov after three years in exile in France and Benin. Amadou 18 Nov handed himself in to authorities and was imprisoned, due to serve eight months on charges of baby trafficking. Opposition continued to boycott electoral commission and electoral code adopted in June that disqualifies any potential candidate who has been sentenced to at least one year in prison, making Amadou ineligible. In Tillabery region in west, suspected jihadists 1 Nov reportedly attacked Firgoun, near Ayorou town, killing one; suspected members of jihadist group Islamic State in the Greater Sahara 11 Nov attacked Boni Kado village, reportedly killing village chief. Suspected Islamist militants 29 Nov attacked Djaouga village near Torodi in west near border with Burkina Faso, two civilians wounded; security forces killed militant.
Jihadist groups continued to attack civilians in south east near Nigeria and security forces in west near Mali. In south east, suspected members of Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province carried out several attacks in Diffa region: militants killed one civilian in Biri Boula 1 Oct; one civilian in Kaoure and two others in Kindjandi 6 Oct; killed fisherman near Koulgouliram 8 Oct. Suspected Boko Haram combatants 30 Oct attacked Blabrine military base in Diffa region, killing at least ten. In Tillabéri region’s Filingué department bordering Mali in west, suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 8 Oct ambushed army patrol around Ekrafane, one soldier wounded and four militants reportedly killed; suspected jihadists 12 Oct ambushed gendarmerie patrol at Abarey market, five gendarmes killed. In Tillabéri region’s Say department near border with Burkina Faso, suspected jihadist militants 7 Oct killed gendarme in Bankata. In Dosso region in south west, suspected ISGS militants 6 Oct attacked military in Dogondoutchi department, killing two soldiers. Parliament 11 Oct extended state of emergency in Diffa region and parts of Tillabéri and Tahoua regions. Cabinet 4 Oct adopted new border control policy for 2019-2035 amid rising concerns over insecurity and irregular migration on southern border with Nigeria. EU mission (EUCAP) and International Organization for Migration 10 Oct launched construction of new centre in Birni N’Konni, Tahoua region near border with Nigeria to host permanent 250-strong border force. President Issoufou early Oct reiterated that he will not seek third term.
Jihadist groups continued attacks on civilians in south east near Nigeria, as President Issoufou accused Malian armed group leaders of collusion with jihadists in west. In south east, villagers in Diffa region reported deadly incursions by Boko Haram, in particular faction known as Islamic State West Africa Province, almost every day. In west, suspected jihadists 10 Sept stole two vehicles from International Committee of the Red Cross near Tongo Tongo, Tillabéry region. During visit to Malian capital Bamako 7 Sept, President Issoufou said unresolved status of Kidal region in northern Mali, still controlled by ex-rebel group Coalition of Azawad Movements, signatory of 2015 peace accord, was “threat to Niger’s domestic security” and accused some armed group leaders of collusion with jihadists. Issoufou raised issue again during 14 Sept extraordinary summit of regional bloc Economic Community of West African States in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou. Niger’s ambassador to Mali 13 Sept said he would not attend meeting of peace accord committee scheduled to take place in Kidal 17 Sept; consequently meeting postponed (see Mali). About 2,000 gathered to protest against electoral code and electoral commission in capital Niamey 28 Sept, ahead of 2020 elections.
Violence against civilians continued in south east and west despite decrease in attacks against security forces. In Diffa region in south east, abductions of women, traders and traditional chiefs continued. Four soldiers killed when their vehicle detonated mine near Bosso 10 Aug. Boko Haram 23 Aug reportedly killed twelve civilians in Lamana, Gueskero district, Diffa region. In Tillabery region in west, tensions remained high despite decrease in jihadist attacks. Media 18 Aug alleged Malian ex-rebel Coalition of Azawad Movements (CMA) had facilitated 1 July attack against military camp in Inates close to Malian border claimed by Islamic State in the Greater Sahara; CMA denied accusations.
Jihadist groups continued violent attacks, including suicide car bombing on military targets and abduction of civilians, in west near Mali and in south east near Nigeria. In Inates, Tillabery region in west, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) coming from Mali 1 July staged complex attack on military camp involving two suicide car bombs and dozens of militants on motorbikes, at least eighteen soldiers killed before U.S. and French airstrikes forced militants back across border to Mali. Also in Inates, suspected ISGS militants 15 July killed Tuareg leader Almoubacher ag Alamjadi. In Diffa region in south east, deadly attacks continued and kidnappings of women and girls increased. Suspected Boko Haram faction Islamic State West Africa Province 2 July reportedly abducted twelve people in Kolo Manga, including two women and four girls; 6 July kidnapped at least eight girls in Tchoungoua and one girl in Toumour next day. France 9 July said it had suspended military operations at its Madama outpost in far north and transferred personnel and equipment to restive Liptako-Gourma area that spans border areas of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. Niger and Burkina Faso 10 July signed framework to facilitate cross-border cooperation.
Violence continued in south east near Nigeria and in west near Mali, and new law empowering authorities to monitor and sanction mosques and preachers sparked localised unrest. In Diffa region in south east, deadly attacks and kidnappings continued: Boko Haram (BH) faction Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) 8 June claimed abduction and killing of Christian near Bosso; suspected BH militants 9 June abducted thirteen in Alangayari; BH 10 June issued ultimatum to Christians to leave Diffa region; suspected BH militants 15 June killed NGO worker and driver in Tcholori; Fulani and Kanuri tribesmen 12 June clashed in Loumbouram, four reportedly killed; clashes between farmers and herders in Chetimari killed eleven mid-June. Govt 3 June said it had thwarted attacks in Diffa city and capital Niamey, and that security forces 2 June killed 53 suspected Islamist militants in joint operation with Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) near Lake Chad. Violence continued in Tillabery region in west: near border with Mali, joint operation involving U.S., French and Niger troops killed eighteen Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) fighters 8-18 June; ISGS 4 June reportedly killed man in Alkongui village; U.S. military vehicle 9 June detonated explosive device reportedly set by ISGS near Ouallam, no casualties. North of Niamey, unidentified gunmen 18 June attacked police station, killing two police officers. Parliament 17 June passed law that guarantees religious freedoms but empowers authorities to identify, monitor and sanction mosques and preachers, sparking outcry from Islamic civil society organisations and preachers. Police in Maradi in south 15 June arrested imam who criticised law as anti-Islamic, sparking riots in city; imam’s supporters set fire to church. Imam released 16 June, retracted his criticism and called for calm. Parliament 24 June passed new electoral law despite opposition’s boycott. Opposition same day filed vote of no confidence against govt of PM Rafini; parliament rejected it 28 June.
Suspected jihadists ramped up attacks in Tillabery region in west bordering Mali and Burkina Faso, killing dozens of soldiers, and insecurity persisted in Diffa region in south east. In Tillabery region, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara claimed attacks against high security prison at Koutoukale in which national guard officer killed and against church at Dolbel both 13 May; same day a hundred militants reportedly ambushed security forces in Baley Beri area as they pursued perpetrators of attacks, killing at least 28 soldiers. Also in Tillabery, explosive device killed six civilians near Inates 3 May. UN and NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) early May suspended humanitarian operations in parts of Tillabery and Diffa regions after several incidents: militants reportedly linked to Boko Haram attacked MSF office in Maine Soroa, Diffa region night of 25-26 April; in Tillabery region armed assailants 2 May stole two MSF vehicles and unidentified individuals 7 May stole two vehicles from refugee camp of Tabarey Barey. General Salou Djibo, who led 2010 coup and presided over peaceful transition, mid-May requested and was granted his retirement, sparking speculations that he may run for president in 2021.
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.