Seven soldiers were killed in an attack by suspected rebels in Niger’s southwest, while five others died in a traffic accident while responding to the assault. The deaths come as former colonial power France prepares to withdraw a counterinsurgency force stationed in the country at the request of its new military leaders, who seized power in a coup two months ago.
The Tillaberi region, located in the so-called “three borders” zone, is a hideout for rebels, particularly those affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group. Niger’s southwest, bordering Nigeria, is facing attacks from Boko Haram and ISWAP, leading to a coup in late July, which was justified by the country’s deteriorating security situation. Since the generals took power, Niger has seen a 42% increase in political violence, with the number of deaths from rebel attacks rising.