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Niger: Mine Blast Kills Seven Soldiers in Diffa

Seven soldiers were killed on Friday after their vehicle hit a landmine in Niger’s southeast Diffa region, where jihadist groups are active, according to an army statement broadcast on state radio. The blast took place around 0000 GMT just 400 metres from a military post at Chetimari Wangou, 25 kilometres (16 miles) from the city of Diffa. Two soldiers who survived the blast were taken to Diffa to be treated for their injuries, said the statement.

Diffa sits near Lake Chad, which straddles the borders of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad. It is a vast expense of water and marshland that has been the site of frequent attacks from the jihadist fighters of Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). The four countries bordering the lake set up a multinational anti-jihadist force in 2015.

In May, Niger said the army had picked up nearly 1,400 Boko Haram followers who were fleeing into the country following clashes with ISWAP. The exodus started in March when ISWAP pursued Boko Haram in its forest hideout of Sambisa in northeastern Nigeria.

Niger’s Diffa region has borne the brunt of jihadist attacks over the years but has been relatively calm since the start of 2023, a security source told AFP. The country, one of the poorest nations in the world, is also facing a jihadist insurgency in its southwest, launched by militants who carried out cross-border raids from Mali in 2015.

Niger’s army said late last month that 55 jihadists, including several high-ranking combatants affiliated to the Islamic State group, had been killed in a joint operation with Nigeria. In its battle against the jihadists, Niger enjoys the support of several major powers, including France and the United States, which both have military bases there.

Source : The North Africa Journal