Nigerien and French forces are reported to have launched a major security operation in the Koure area of the Tillaberi region on Monday, August 10, a day after eight people were killed in a suspected militant attack. Officials stated that Nigerien troops and French personnel from the Operation Barkhane regional anti-terrorism mission had been deployed to the area to search for the gunmen who ambushed a vehicle in Koure Giraffe Reserve on Sunday, August 9, killing six French NGO workers as well as their Nigerien driver and guide. The unidentified attackers are believed to have arrived in the area, around 50km (30 miles) east of Niamey, and fled the scene of the attack on motorcycles, but it is currently unclear where they are based.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack. Although multiple militant groups, including Nusrat al-Islam (JNIM), Islamic State in the Greater Sahel (ISGS), and Ansarul Islam, have posed an increasing threat in parts of the western and northern Tillaberi region in recent years, the Koure area had not previously seen significant attacks and the giraffe reserve had remained open to tourists. French authorities have launched an anti-terrorism investigation into the incident.
Security operations are likely in the Koure area and elsewhere in the eastern Tillaberi region in the near term.
There has been increasing concern in recent years over the threat from terrorism in the Niger's Tillaberi region as groups such as Nusrat al-Islam (JNIM), Islamic State in the Greater Sahel (ISGS), and Ansarul Islam have expanded their operations across the borders with Mali and Burkina Faso. Hundreds of military personnel and civilians have been killed in the region in sporadic attacks on security forces patrols and bases, as well as refugee camps, since 2018. The attacks have prompted a significant increase in security deployments in the southwest, including a newly built US airbase, but the government has struggled to stem the violence. Parts of the Tillaberi and Tahoua regions remain under a state of emergency due to the persistent insecurity.
Those in the Tillaberi region are advised to monitor developments, remain vigilant for militant activity, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments. The security environment in Niger remains complex and professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
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