Published: Mon, January 13, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Suspected jihadists strike Niger military; 25 soldiers dead

Suspected jihadists strike Niger military; 25 soldiers dead

Another 2,000 soldiers are conducting training missions in some 40 African countries and taking part in cooperative operations, in particular with France's Operation Barkhane in Mali, to which they provide mainly logistical assistance.

An adviser to Macron, speaking anonymously in accordance with the French presidency's customary practice, said France wants its troops to focus on the porous border separating Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso where extremist fighters flow with little challenge. Jihadist attacks by affiliates of Islamic State and al Qaeda have been compounded by deadly ethnic reprisals between rival farming and herding communities. Some in Mali, which has struggled for close to a decade with extremism, have protested the French presence.

France has also suffered significant casualties, losing 13 soldiers in a helicopter crash in Mali last November.

The United States wants to reduce the number of its troops deployed across Africa over the next few years to focus more on responding to the threats posed by Russian Federation and China.

The presidents will then gather for the summit Macron has said must clarify the "political and strategic framework" of the Sahel military campaign.

Secretary-General of the United States, Antonio Guterres, will attend the summit dinner together with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the Secretary of State for the European Union, Josep Borrell, and the President of the Commission for the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat.

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Mali's Keita has said the summit will be "decisive" and "will allow us to put on the table all the questions, all the grievances, all the solutions". Kabore of Burkina Faso has described Macron's recent insistences as "lacking in tact".

Niger's flag will also be flown at half-staff throughout the territory as the country mourns the troops killed in the raid.

Niger replaced two top military brass on Monday, four days after a jihadist assault on an army base left 89 dead in the biggest single loss in the country's history.

"The response with the combined air support of the Niger air force and partners made it possible to strike and rout the enemy outside our boundaries", he said.

"Last year, military operations in Mali pushed more than 80,000 people to flee".

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