New Brunswick Tribune

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

After a French convoy used force on Niger protesters, 2 were killed and 18 were injured

Key takeaways:

  • On Saturday, demonstrators battled with a French military convoy that had crossed the border from Burkina Faso.
  • In 2013, France intervened in Mali to retake the desert north from extremists before sending troops across the Sahel. 

According to Niger’s government, demonstrators clashed with a French military convoy they blocked after it crossed the border from Burkina Faso on Saturday, killing two people and injuring 18 others.

The armored vehicles and logistical trucks crossed the border on Friday after being stalled for a week in Burkina Faso by protests against French soldiers’ failure to stop Islamist extremists from escalating their assaults.

In Niger, Burkina Faso, and other nations in West Africa’s Sahel area, where France has hundreds of troops fighting al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates, anger is growing about France’s military presence in its former colonies.

Last weekend, hundreds of demonstrators in the Burkinabe city of Kaya stopped a French convoy on its way from the Ivory Coast to Mali.

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It was able to leave Burkina Faso on Friday, but further protests erupted the next morning less than 30 kilometers (19 miles) across the border in Tera, Niger, where it had spent the night.

“It (the French soldiers) employed force in an attempt to free itself.” We regret the deaths of two persons and the injuries of 18 others; 11 of them are serious,” stated Niger’s interior ministry in a statement.

“An investigation has been started to discover the exact circumstances surrounding this tragedy and to assign blame.”

2 killed, 18 wounded as protesters clash with French convoy in Niger

Colonel Pascal Ianni, a French military spokesman, told Reuters that French soldiers and Nigerian military police fired warning shots to disperse demonstrators attempting to pillage and seize trucks. Still, he could neither confirm nor refute the alleged injuries.

Ianni said that the convoy was eventually able to continue on its route to Niamey, the capital.

The protestors, primarily young males, shouted “Down with France!” as black smoke ascended from a blazing barricade, according to a video released by a local authority.

In 2013, France intervened in Mali to retake the desert north from extremists before sending troops across the Sahel. While several top jihadist leaders have been slain, the region’s bloodshed has continued to escalate and expand.

Nigerian President Mohamed Bazoum defended the French presence in the Sahel in statements broadcast on national television on Friday, warning that their removal would result in “chaos.”

Source: Global News

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