In one the deadliest terror attack at a military camp in Niger, on December 10, at least 71 soldiers were killed and 12 got injured, said the defence ministry. Apart from the casualties, the ministry, in a televised statement, confirmed that few military personnel are unaccounted for.
Hundreds of terrorists launched an attack on the camp with shelling and mortars in western Tillaberi region near the border with Mali. Without giving the exact figure, the defence ministry said that the terrorists were heavily armed and that a “substantial number” of terrorists were neutralised. Since the military is fighting against Boko Haram militants as well as Islamic State’s jihadist allies, there has not been clarity on which group was involved in the fatal attack.
The terrorists reached the camp using kamikaze vehicles and started attack around 3.00 pm (local time), which continued for more than three hours. According to media reports, explosions of ammunition and fuel present at the camp led to the heavy death toll. The government claimed that the situation is now under control and acknowledged that the assailants have fled beyond the borders of Niger but the search is still underway.
In the aftermath of the attack, Niger’s President Issoufou Mahamadou cut short his visit to Egypt for a Conference on "Sustainable Peace, Security and Development” to return to Niger. He will hold a preside over a meeting of the National Security Council on December 12 following the tragic attack. French President Emmanuel Macron also postponed a meeting, earlier scheduled for next week, with presidents of Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Chad.
The five nations of the Sahel region are part of an anti-jihadist task force, known as G5, which was formed in 2014 with a motive of strengthening the bond between economic development and security. The permanent headquarters of the group is in Mauritania and France has been backing their effort to counter jihadist forces in the region by deploying soldiers in the member states of G5 Sahel.