Terrorism & Insurgency

Islamic State kills more than 150 soldiers in series of attacks across Niger

17 January 2020

Nigerien soldiers on patrol near Niamey in December 2019. Source: Ludovic Marin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Key Points

  • The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a 9 January attack on a military base in western Niger, in which at least 89 soldiers were killed.
  • The attack was the third major such operation since 10 December, with at least 174 Nigerien soldiers having been killed by militants operating under the Islamic State's Wilayat Gharb Afriqiyya during the period.
  • The operations underline the growing focus of the Islamic State on the Sahel, as illustrated by a 10 January Wilayat Gharb Afriqiyya video highlighting the group's regional capabilities and its ongoing loyalty to the Islamic State's central leadership.

The Islamic State issued a statement on 14 January claiming responsibility for a major assault on a military base in Chinagodrar in Niger's western Tillaberi region on 9 January, during which at least 89 soldiers were killed.

According to Niger's Ministry of Defence, the assault on the base - located 209 km north of the capital, Niamey, on the border with Mali - began at 13:00 local time, when "terrorist elements on board several vehicles and motorcycles" attempted to breach the facility's perimeter. The ministry added that the assault had been repelled following "combined air support from the Niger air force and partners", including strikes by a patrol of French Mirage 2000 fighter jets, and it further reported that 63 militants had been killed - a figure that the government later revised up to 77.

However, local media reports claimed that the militants had briefly overrun the base before fleeing, and this was seemingly corroborated by photos released by the Islamic State hours after issuing its claim of responsibility, which showed its fighters moving through the facility and looting weapons and equipment.

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