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Africa

Niger’s president says jihadists planned attacks in Chad

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Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-05-27

Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou told FRANCE 24 on Monday that Islamist militants responsible for last week’s twin attacks in Niger were also planning assaults in neighbouring Chad.

Islamist militants were planning assaults in Chad, said Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou in an interview with FRANCE 24 days after twin suicide attacks ripped two secured sites in Niger.

Speaking to FRANCE 24 on Monday in Agadez, a town in central Niger where Islamist militants attacked an army base last week, Issoufou said jihadists had also set their sights on targets in neighbouring Chad.

“This attack against Niger was prepared in parallel with another attack aimed at Chad,” said Issoufou. “For now, this attack hasn’t happened, but it was being prepared at the same time as the attack against Niger.”

Located in the Sahel - the remote hostile belt between the Sahara and the African Savannah - Niger shares porous borders with Mali to the west, Algeria and Libya to the north, and Chad to the east.

Issofou has long warned that the crisis in neighbouring Mali was a domestic problem for his country. On May 23, his forewarnings appeared to come true when Islamist militants simultaneously struck a French-run uranium mine in Arlit in northern Niger and an army base about 200 kilometers south. The attacks killed 24 soldiers at the Agadez base and one civilian at Areva's Somair mine in Arlit.

Retaliation

Links between MUJAO and Mokhtar Belmokhtar

Two Islamist groups claimed the attacks, calling them retaliation for Niger sending troops to help the French-led military operation against al Qaeda-linked insurgents in Mali, in which Chad is also involved.

The militant Islamist group MUJAO (Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa) and veteran al Qaeda commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar's Signatories in Blood both claimed the attacks. The two groups have been known to team up and fight together in the past.

In an interview with FRANCE 24 over the weekend, Issofou said the suicide bombers behind the May 23 twin attacks at Arlit and Agadez had come from southern Libya.

“The assailants, according to all the information that we’ve acquired, came from southern Libya,” Issoufou told FRANCE 24. “The fact is that Libya remains a destabilising force for the Saharan countries.
 

 

Date created : 2013-05-27

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