Africa: 10 villagers killed in mosque attack in western Niger

Filed on October 13, 2021

Area is home to ethnic groups such as the Djerma, Fulani, Tuareg and Hausa

Suspected militants killed 10 villagers in an attack on a mosque earlier this week in western Niger’s Tillaberi region, local sources said on Wednesday.

The attack occurred Monday in the village of Abankor in the “Tri-Border” region where Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso meet.

“The attackers arrived on motorbikes during evening prayers and the victims were in the mosque when they were killed,” an official in Banibangou city told AFP.

A resident of the neighbouring town of Tondiwindi confirmed the attack and the death toll.

On local radio Studio Kalangou, an Abankor resident said one person was injured in addition to the 10 dead, adding that the attack happened in the early evening.

Since early 2021, attacks by suspected militants have shot up in the area around Banibangou and nearby towns in the Tillaberi region, a vast area covering 100,000 square kilometres (38,000 square miles) home to ethnic groups such as the Djerma, Fulani, Tuareg and Hausa.

The flashpoint area is frequently targeted by Daesh in the Greater Sahara and an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group with deadly attacks against civilians and soldiers.

Authorities on Wednesday reimposed a ban on motorbikes in several parts of the Tillaberi region.

The interdiction, first decreed last year to combat militant attacks carried out by gunmen on motorbikes, had been lifted on September 1.

The initial decree also regulated the sale of fuel and shut down markets suspected of feeding the armed groups and hiding their informants.

The tougher security measures — which have sparked sometimes violent protests — have had economic repercussions on local people, Tillaberi MPs said in August.

Instead of motorbikes, attackers took to using pushbikes and camels, they said.

Motorbikes are the primary means of transport for people in the Tillaberi region.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has warned that the Tillaberi region is facing a “major food crisis”, with almost 600,000 people exposed to food insecurity.

“Insecurity and recurrent attacks by suspected elements of non-state armed groups targeting farmers and civilians will have serious repercussions this year on the already precarious food situation,” the UN Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs office warned in a report sent to AFP earlier this month.

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