At least 25 Niger soldiers and 63 terrorists are killed in attack on army base in Tillaberi region
Affected Countries: niger; ;
Insurgents attacked a military base in Niger on Thursday, January 9, leading to clashes that killed at least 25 soldiers and 63 “terrorists,” the defense ministry said.
The raid began at 1 p.m. (1200 GMT), when “terrorist elements on board several vehicles and motorcycles” attacked a military outpost at Chinagodrar in the western Tillaberi region, the ministry said in a release.
RFI reported that the attack came from two directions – heavily armed vehicles came from west of Chinagodrar, while “several dozen motorcycles” came from the Ikrafane forest east of the base.
The ministry’s provisional assessment was 25 dead and six injured on the “friendly side,” and “63 terrorists neutralized” and several motorcycles burned on the enemy side.
Chinagodrar (also rendered Chinagodar, Chinagoder and Sinegodar) is around 12 km (7 miles) south of the volatile frontier with Mali.
“The response with the combined air support of the Niger air force and partners made it possible to carry out strikes and rout the enemy outside our borders,” the defense ministry said, adding that clearance operations were ongoing.
According to the RFI report, both U.S. and French aircraft responded to the incident. French Mirage 2000 fighter jets were scrambled and were over Chinagodrar within 15 minutes. U.S. drones conducted two strikes – one struck vehicles on the Mali border and a second targeted a group of motorcycles. The Defense Post has contacted U.S. Africa Command for comment.
France has three armed Reaper drones and four Mirage 2000-D fighter jets deployed to its Operation Barkhane counter-terrorism mission in the Sahel. The aircraft are based near Niger’s capital Niamey, around 220 km southwest of Chinagodrar. U.S. drones fly from Air Base 101 at Niamey airport, and from Nigerien Air Base 201 in the northern city of Agadez. The CIA also operates a separate drone base in Niger.
The Chinagodrar attack in Niger’s Tillaberi region occurred around 180 km east of Inates, where 71 Niger soldiers were killed in a December attack claimed by Islamic State that saw dozens of insurgents storm a military camp near the border with Mali. It was the deadliest attack on Niger’s military since Islamist extremist violence began to spill over from neighbouring Mali in 2015.
The Inates attack spurred leaders of the Sahel nations to yet again call for closer cooperation and international support in the battle against the insurgent threat.
French President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of the G5 Sahel group of states – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – are due to meet this weekend to discuss security and the presence of France-led forces in the region, a summit postponed until January 12 due to the Inates attack.
In November, Macron said France was “confirming and consolidating its commitment” to the Sahel, noting that additional military resources would be forthcoming by early 2020, and that decisions would soon be announced on revamping the G5 Sahel Joint Force (FCG5S).
Also in November, senior officials said the United States is seeking a meeting of the Coalition against ISIS early in 2020 to focus on threats in West Africa and the Sahel.
Source: The Defense Post