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Battleground Niger: Almost 90 people dead in jihadist attack on army base

Battleground Niger: Almost 90 people dead in jihadist attack on army base
More than two dozen soldiers were killed in a suspected jihadist attack on an army base in Niger, near the border with Mali. 63 attackers also died in the onslaught.

The attack took place at Chinagodrar on Thursday, and is the latest in a slew of terror attacks on the Nigerien army on the country’s western border. Nigerien Defense Department spokesman Colonel Souleymane Gazobi blamed the attack on “terrorist elements.”

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The attack comes a month after 71 Nigerien soldiers were slain by Islamist terrorists at another outpost near the Malian border. The attack, a Defense Department spokesman said, was of “unprecedented violence,” and was marked by “artillery fire and the use of suicide bombers by the enemy.”

Much of western Niger has been under a state of emergency for more than two years, as attacks from militants based in Mali are commonplace. Fighters aligned with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), and Al-Qaeda have been blamed for the attacks, which have hammered the Nigerien military for several years.

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Across the border in Mali, French troops are currently engaged in counterterrorism operations against these militants, and carried out France’s first armed drone strike against terrorists in Mali late last month. French troops were initially deployed to Mali in 2013 to quell a jihadist insurgency, but have remained on the ground as the insurgents expanded their reach to Burkina Faso and Niger, using Mali as a staging area for attacks.

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