At least 69 villagers members of self-defense militias were killed in Niger in an attack near the border with Mali, in the region of Tillabéri (west), the scene since the beginning of the year of murderous actions by suspected jihadists.
The attack happened on Tuesday, but was not confirmed until Thursday evening by the Nigerien government.
“On Tuesday November 2, 2021 at around 9:30 am (08:30 GMT) the mayor of the commune of Banibangou on the move with a delegation of nationals of the said commune, fell into an ambush set by unidentified armed bandits”, indicates a press release from the ministry. inside.
“The provisional toll of the attack, which took place 11 km north of the village of Adab Dab, a locality located about fifty km north-west of Banibangou, shows 69 dead including the mayor (of Banibangou) and 15 survivors, “added the press release, which stated that a” search operation was undertaken in the area “to try to find the attackers.
The government has decreed a national mourning of 48 hours from Friday.
According to local sources interviewed by AFP, the mayor of Banibangou killed in the attack was the head of “Vigilance Committees” of several villages in the territory of his commune.
One of these sources specified that 84 members of these committees traveling on motorcycles were targeted by this “terrorist attack”.
They had “a clash in Adab-Dab, a locality located about 55 km north-west of Banibangou, with elements of the EIGS (Islamic State in the Great Sahara) heavily armed” and also circulating on motorbikes, again related this source. The attackers left “to Mali, taking the bodies of their fighters”, she said.
Hundreds of dead
According to a former mayor of the region, villagers had recently formed self-defense committees to watch over peasants regularly targeted by armed men in their fields.
These committees decided on Tuesday to track down armed men who attack villages and steal cattle, into their riparian hideout in Adab-Dab, he said.
Since the beginning of the year, suspected jihadists have increased bloody assaults against civilians in the Banibangou area and neighboring towns in the Tillabéri region, killing hundreds.
As of January 2, 2021, 100 people had been killed in attacks on two villages in the region and in August, Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimated that more than 420 civilians had been killed since the start of the year in the region. western Niger.
In the region of Tahoua, near that of Tillabéri, 141 people were killed in March by suspected jihadists, in several hamlets and camps.
Tillabéri, a huge and unstable region of 100,000 km2, is located in the area of the three borders between Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, the scene since 2017 of murderous actions by armed groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group.
During a visit to the region in September, Nigerian President Mohamed Bazoum said that “the enemy is falling on innocent unarmed populations” and “is engaging in a large-scale massacre.”
“Everywhere, they (the jihadists) attack the peasants who are in the fields of the most distant villages, the most remote where they know that they have no chance of meeting our forces,” he added.