It was the deadliest terrorist attack in the Sahel region since Islamist groups began to escalate their activities in the region in 2015, and it came one month after a similar attack on another military base in Niger killed 71 soldiers.
In 2019, Islamist terrorists killed more than 4,000 people in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
The Islamic State on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the 9 January attack on Chinégodar, in western Niger, near the Malian border, in which 89 soldiers were killed. It was the deadliest attack in the Sahel region since the Islamic State (the called ISIS) and its local began to escalate their attacks in the region in 2015.
The Islamic State, which does not offers details of its own losses, claims to have “destroyed many vehicles,” “burned the barracks,” and to have taken “in spoils vehicles, weapons and ammunition.” “The mujahideen then returned to their position,” the group’s announcement concluded.
On Sunday, the government of Niger had revised upward the number of the soldiers killed in the attack in Chinégodar, from 25 to 89, and said that the Niger army “neutralized 63 terrorists.”
The 9 January attack came only a month after an attack by Islamic State in Inates, in the same region of Tillabéri, which lies on Niger’s border with Mali. In that attack the Islamists killed 71 soldiers. Analysts say that the modus operandi in both attacks was the same, with dozens of terrorists on motorcycles and in vehicles crossing from Mali into Niger, and escaping back to Mali after the attack.
On Monday, Niger president Mahamadou Issoufou sacked the Chief of the Defense Staff and the Chief of the Land Staff before traveling to the summit at Pau, in south-western France, for a summit in which the president of France and the presidents of the five Sahel region nations – Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Chad – agreed to create the Coalition of the Sahel, with a joint military command and a contribution of 7,500 French soldiers, to bolster to campaign against Islamist terrorists in the region.
“The novelty [of the Pau summit] is in the recognition that the situation [in the Sahel] is not good and that the strategy followed so far does not work well,” Jean-Hervé Jézéquel, director of the project Sahel at the International Crisis Group (ICG), told AFP.
The entire Sahel region- particularly Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso – has seen increasingly more brazen and more lethal attacks by Islamist groups, despite the presence of 4,500 French soldiers in the area and substantial EU financial and training assistance to improve the quality of the armies of the five Sahel countries.
The UN says that in 2019, jihadist attacks in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso killed more than 4,000 people.