In Niger, the government has declared three days of national mourning after an attack by suspected militants killed at least 29 soldiers in the country’s western border with Mali. Niger’s Defense Ministry also said “several dozen terrorists” were killed. Local residents lamented the attack and the ongoing insecurity.
Naomi Binta Stansley: “We wish that this mourning, this sadness that the families of the soldiers feel, that the Nigeriens feel, that this would be the last time and that this insecurity stops. We want peace to return to Niger, peace to return to the Sahel, peace to return to Mali, peace to return to Burkina.”
Violence in the Sahel has plagued Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso for over 10 years, leading to military takeovers in the three countries, which recently formed a defense alliance to fight armed groups and external military intervention. The countries have moved to sever ties with former colonizer France, whose mission to combat terrorism has largely failed or worsened the situation. The U.N. also recently withdrew its forces from Mali, as the country’s military attempts to repel conflicts from armed groups on multiple fronts. A blockade and bombing of Timbuktu by al-Qaeda-affiliated insurgents has led to fears of a possible civil war. This is a Timbuktu resident.
Sory Touré: “What worries us is the shelling of the town. This creates a real psychosis and leaves its mark on people’s minds. I, myself, have this fear inside of me. What’s much more serious is the fact that it affects people’s psychology.”