The latest terrorist attack in Niger shows the speed of Islamic State expansion
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Affected Countries: niger;
The killing of 71 soldiers in Niger, which had been spared the surge in major militant attacks that have destabilized Mali and Burkina Faso, shows that Islamic State is expanding at breakneck speed across West Africa.
The raid on the Inates base, less than 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the capital, Niamey, is the deadliest-ever on Niger’s army and follows a spate of attacks on military outposts in neighboring Mali that left more than 100 troops dead last month.
It also came days before leaders of five West African nations were due to convene in France on Dec. 16 to discuss security and the French military deployment in the region as anti-French sentiment escalates. French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday postponed the summit to January because of the attack.
“If we look at what’s been happening of late, Islamic State has increased its mobility, its power and its access to resources,” Former Malian Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga told Radio France Internationale on Friday.
Militant violence has engulfed the Sahel, an arid area on the southern fringe of the Sahara, since the 2011 ousting of Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi. Mali was almost overrun by al-Qaeda affiliated militants the following year and Burkina Faso is facing its worst humanitarian crisis due to near-daily hit-and-run attacks in its northeast. Partly due to huge spending on defense, which accounts for almost a fifth of its annual budget, Niger has largely remained stable in recent years, after successfully combating Boko Haram Islamist fighters from Nigeria.
Still, militant attacks, including abduction, arson and pillaging, have jumped roughly four-fold this year compared to 2018, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. The group recorded 210 assaults in 2019, compared to 56 last year.
Source: Bnn Bloomberg