Forty fighters ‘neutralised’ in drone strikes in Niger | Conflict News

The gunmen have been travelling on bikes close to Niger’s border with Burkina Faso, France’s navy says.

French drone strikes have killed almost 40 fighters earlier travelling on bikes close to Niger’s border with Burkina Faso, France’s navy mentioned on Thursday.

In an announcement, the French navy referred to as the strikes a “new tactical success” for France’s counterterrorism efforts in Africa’s Sahel area, named Operation Barkhane.

“Intelligence obtained from Nigerien items in touch with the column confirmed that the bikes belonged to an armed terrorist group transferring between Burkina Faso and Niger,” Barkhane mentioned within the assertion.

“In shut coordination with Niger’s Armed Forces, the Barkhane pressure performed a number of strikes towards the column. Almost 40 terrorists have been neutralised.”

Niger’s authorities additionally issued an announcement saying the fighters have been killed after an assault earlier this week killed eight safety forces in southwestern Niger.

The drone strikes in Niger come as France reorganises its navy efforts within the broader Sahel area, the huge space south of the Sahara Desert the place it was as soon as a colonial energy and nonetheless maintains sturdy financial ties.

Niger has turn out to be a extra dependable ally after navy coups overthrew the democratically elected presidents of neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso over the past two years.

“Our navy dedication within the Sahel-Sahara space to combat terrorism, alongside our African companions is complete,” Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu mentioned on Twitter.

Earlier this 12 months, France introduced it was withdrawing all its forces from Mali 9 years after the French navy led an effort that ousted armed teams from Timbuktu and different centres in northern Mali.

The choice to withdraw from Mali got here amid growing hostility in direction of the French armed presence and tensions with the nation’s chief, who led two coups 9 months aside to consolidate his energy.

France has mentioned it deliberate to reposition its forces from Mali to different nations within the Sahel area together with Niger. Violence is rising within the Sahel, together with in Niger’s southwest neighbour, Burkina Faso, which is battling rising armed-group assaults.

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