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Niger attack kills 21, highlights post-coup security troubles

Niger has announced three days of national mourning after an attack in a jihadist stronghold in the western Tillaberi region caused the deaths of at least 20 soldiers and one civilian.

Nine other people were wounded in the attack, which authorities have blamed on a coalition of armed groups, without giving any specific names. The raid took place in the village of Tassia, which is close to the border with Burkina Faso.

The incident highlights the growing challenges facing the ruling junta, which came to power in July 2023, overthrowing the civilian government led by Mohamed Bazoum, who remains detained in the capital city, Niamey.

Last week, a new anti-junta group called the Patriotic Front for Justice reportedly kidnapped a group of soldiers in northeastern Niger. The group said the operation was designed to send a “message” to the junta to free Bazoum and organise elections.

Earlier this month, another anti-junta group called the Patriotic Liberation Front attacked a section of an oil pipeline that runs to the coastline of neighbouring Benin. The group’s leader has also demanded the release of Bazoum.

The putsch in Niger followed similar coups in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali. All three countries are fighting jihadist insurgencies that civilian administrations and their largest Western partners failed to address, and may have even worsened.

Niger’s former government had positioned itself as a strategic ally of Western nations seeking to fight militants, yet since the coup it has ordered out French and American forces, and turned towards Russia.

The junta has also repealed a 2015 law that that sought to curb migration to Europe, and which former government officials said was adopted under EU pressure. The law criminalised the economy of a northern smuggling hub and endangered migrant lives.

Read our recent report from the northern city of Agadez for more on the repeal and on the broader situation since the junta took charge:

A row of cars filled with people at the Agadez bus station.

In post-coup Niger, migration becomes legal again

While people in the northern city of Agadez celebrate the end of a 2015 law, the EU worries about rising migration. But what has actually changed?

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