Six Nigerien soldiers were killed and three wounded on Wednesday (20 October) in an ambush of armed men on the convoy of the prefect of the Bankilaré department in the Tillabéri region (west), near Burkina Faso, the governor of the region told AFP.
“The Prefect was on leave and was returning to Bankilaré (capital of the department of the same name) when armed men ambushed him. There were six dead and three wounded among the soldiers of the National Guard who escorted him,” said Tidjani Ibrahim Katiella, governor of Tillabéri. The Prefect “is safe and sound”, he assured.
Although this attack on the convoy of a senior Nigerien official is the first of its kind in this area of the “three borders” between Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, the region has been the scene of bloody actions by jihadist groups linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS), especially against civilians, since the beginning of the year. At least three Nigerien police officers were killed and several wounded in the night from Sunday to Monday, during an attack on the Petelkole border checkpoint, 10km from the border with Burkina Faso.
The attacks against Petelkole and the prefect's convoy come after a two-day visit by Nigerien president, Mohamed Bazoum, to Burkina Faso, where he discussed with his Burkinabè counterpart, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, the security situation in the Sahel following the decision of France to reduce its military forces in this region.
“We need to join hands, to support each other, to help each other to face one of the challenges we face, in particular terrorism,” president Bazoum said on Monday during a meeting with president Kaboré.