State of emergency widened after Niger killings

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

The government in Niger has extended a state of emergency to the entire region that surrounds the capital Niamey after six French aid workers, a local driver and a guide were killed on Sunday.

The giraffe reserve where gunmen on motorbikes carried out the attack has now been closed to visitors.

No group has claimed it but the attack is highly likely to have been carried out by Islamist militants.

Iswap, an affiliate of the Islamic State group, is active in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.

France which has more than 5,000 troops in the region has said it will continue to fight the jihadists.

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French troops hunt for killers of Niger aid workers

BBC World Service

A burned out 4x4
Niger security
A burned out 4x4 was found near the scene of the attack

French soldiers have joined an operation at a wildlife park in Niger in search of the gunmen who killed six French aid workers along with their local guide and driver.

The French humanitarian aid group, Acted, for which the victims worked, described the killings on Sunday as a senseless and cowardly murder.

Islamist militants have carried out frequent attacks in Niger as well as in neighbouring Mali, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.

Macron condemns Niger attack on French aid workers

French President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to Niger's capital, Niamey, in
President Emmanuel Macron confirmed the French deaths

The French President Emmanuel Macron has denounced the killing of eight people in a wildlife park in Niger.

The victims included six French aid workers.

Mr Macron termed it as a 'cowardly" attack, according to the AFP agency.

The incident took place in an area renowned as the home of the last herds of giraffes in West Africa.

Correspondents say the attack is likely to have been carried out by jihadists who have become increasingly active in Niger moving across the borders from Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.

Ten aid workers were kidnapped in June.

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Niger opens up borders to international flights

Ishaq Khalid

BBC News, Abuja

Having temperature check
Getty Images
Temperature checks will be carried out at the airport

The authorities in Niger have announced that the country’s airspace will reopen for international flights in the coming days.

Like most countries around the world, Niger closed its airports and land borders in March as part of efforts to contain coronavirus.

In a statement, the government says after assessing the situation, international passenger flights will now resume on 1 August.

But a number of health and safety measures will be put in place, including mandatory temperature check at airports.

Both passengers arriving and those leaving Niger must present a coronavirus negative test result not more than 72 hours old.

Anyone who does not arrive with a certificate of negative status will be tested, made to pay for the testing and if found positive, they will be taken straight to a treatment centre.

All arriving passengers must also self-isolate for two weeks and give their precise address in the country.

Niger is one of the African countries with fairly low numbers of recorded cases of Covid-19.

Official figures show the country has so far recorded just 1,122 cases but only 35 people currently have the virus as most of those who tested positive have recovered. Its number of deaths is 69.

Places of worship and schools have already reopened. However international travel through the country’s land borders remains banned.

'More intelligence needed' to defeat Boko Haram

Celestina Olulode

BBC News

Chadian soldiers belonging to the Joint Task Force gesture while patrolling in Monguno
A Multinational Joint Task Force was formed in 2015

Greater co-operation and intelligence-sharing is what is needed to successfully defeat Boko Haram terrorists in the Lake Chad region, a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) says.

The Multinational Joint Task Force, drawn from regional states, holds the key to tackling the jihadist threat, but that so far success has been limited, the think tank says.

Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, with the help of Benin - make up the Multinational Joint Task Force, which was formed back in 2015 after a growing realisation that defeating Boko Haram required a collective response.

Five years on it has approximately 10,000 uniformed soldiers.

The ICG does acknowledge some successes, including military campaigns from 2017-2019 which pushed back insurgents, freed civilians, and enabled the delivery of aid.

But advances against Boko Haram have mostly been short-lived because of the insurgents' resilience, the report says.

Referring to a reluctance from each state to cede control to the overall joint task force, the think tank says that structural limitations and a weak chain of command are of concern.

The report calls for funding issues to be resolved with the help of the African Union and the European Union - which both helped create the joint task force.

But with the terror threat showing no signs of declining, establishing peace in the region will not be an easy operation for the joint task force.

Boko Haram, and its offshoot the Islamic State in West Africa Province (Iswap), have killed thousands and displaced about two million in north-east Nigeria.

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Leaders meet to discuss Sahel crisis

BBC World Service

Map showing jihadist activity in west Africa

Leaders of five West African countries and President Emmanuel Macron of France have been meeting to review their efforts to intensify the fight against jihadist militants in the Sahel.

Arriving for the summit in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, Mr Macron praised what he called the real successes of recent months, which include the killing of a local militant leader.

Jihadist groups have become increasingly active in the Sahel region in recent years, despite the presence of French forces and UN peacekeepers.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed in almost daily attacks across the region.

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Niger's ex-military junta leader to run for president

The former head of Niger's military junta General Salou Djibo voting in 2011
Gen Salou Djibo led the 2010 coup against President Mahamadou Tandja

The former head of Niger's military junta General Salou Djibo will vie for the presidency in this year's election.

Gen Djibo was on Sunday announced as the candidate for the Peace Justice Progress (PJP) party.

He led the military junta that ousted President Mahamadou Tandja in February 2010, after he tried to stay in power beyond his two-term limit.

Gen Djibo handed power back to civilian rule after Mahamadou Issoufou won the subsequent elections.

The general retired from the army in 2019.

He hopes to succeed President Issoufou who is constitutionally barred from serving a third term.

The elections are set for 27 December 2020.

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Nigeria condemns attack on embassy in Indonesia

Nigeria's government has condemned Thursday's attack on its embassy in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, by its citizens living in the country.

A number of Nigerian nationals had stormed the embassy and vandalised vehicles in the compound. They accused embassy officials of not offering help when they were allegedly harassed by Indonesian immigration officials.

They also said a Nigerian citizen fell from a storey building while escaping from immigration officials.

Nigeria's Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said those who destroyed property in the embassy's premises would be tracked down and punished.

"Absolutely deplorable and disgraceful criminal behaviour by Nigerian hooligans," he said.

A video of Nigerians at the embassy was shared online:

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Ten aid workers kidnapped in south-west Niger

BBC World Service

Ten aid workers have been kidnapped in south-western Niger as they were distributing food in a village.

The organisation they worked for, Action and Impact Programme in the Sahel (APIS), said armed men appeared in the village on motorbikes and ordered the aid workers to follow them. They also stole two land cruisers.

Jihadist groups have become increasingly active in the region which borders Mali and Burkina Faso.

The militants have stolen several aid agency vehicles for use in attacks.

More than 4,000 people have been killed by Islamist forces in the past year.

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