Saturday, January 02, 2021
Land shattered by terror
Gunmen kill 56 people in Niger
On the day the results of the first round of the presidential elections are announced, an attack shakes Niger. Dozens of people die in the attack on two villages. Who is behind this is still unclear.
In the terror-stricken West African country Niger, gunmen killed at least 56 people and injured more than 20 others. Interior Minister Alkache Alhada announced this in the capital Niamey. The attack had therefore occurred near the border with Mali in the villages of Tchombangou and Zaroumdareye.
The exact circumstances of the attack are still unclear. Niger is one of the most important transit countries for African migrants who want to reach the Mediterranean. There are a number of terrorist groups active in Niger and other countries in this region that have sworn allegiance to Al Qaeda or the Islamic State (IS).
Together with Mali, Mauritania, Chad and Burkina Faso, Niger is part of the G5 Sahel group that aims to fight terrorist groups. In addition, the government has little control in the desert-like expanses outside the cities, which is not only exploited by jihadist groups but also by criminal networks.
In the Sahel state, the preliminary results of the presidential and parliamentary elections were announced on the same day. Head of state Mahamadou Issoufou will, as provided for by the constitution, resign after his two terms in office. An ally of the outgoing president, former Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazoum, stood for the ruling party PNDS and received 39.6 percent of the vote. Like the strongest opposition candidate Mahamane Ousmane (16.9 percent), however, he did not achieve the necessary majority of votes, which is why a runoff election on February 22nd is necessary.
In recent years, Europe had put pressure on the Nigerien government to curb people smuggling. Niger is also an important partner of the EU in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel region.