Fiver soldiers killed in Niger anti-terror operation

Five Nigerien soldiers have been killed and four were reported missing in an operation against jihadists on the country’s southeastern frontier with Nigeria, the defence ministry said Thursday.

“Around 20 terrorists” were also killed in the fighting on Tuesday, the ministry said in a statement read on television.

It gave no details of the operation against jihadists beyond the fact that it was backed by Niger’s “partners” and deployed both air and ground forces.

Niamey is part of a France-backed alliance of countries in the Sahel region battling jihadists, including some belonging to a group aligned with the so-called Islamic State known as ISWAP — themselves an offshoot of Boko Haram.

On Monday, four Nigerien soldiers were killed with an improvised explosive device, one day after another attack on a military camp.

The camp, at a spot close to the Nigerian border called Chetima Wangou, has been the target of repeated deadly attacks since 2019.

Niger’s army has claimed some success against jihadists recently, destroying at least one of the group’s camps located on islands in Lake Chad, on the borders of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

36,000 people have died in fighting against Boko Haram and ISWAP since 2009 in northeastern Nigeria, and almost two million people have fled their homes.

In Niger, the latest upsurge in violence comes weeks before presidential elections.