Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - Suspected Islamic militants killed at least 25 soldiers on Thursday in an attack that came just a month after the worst jihadist assault on the military in years. The attack, which also left dozens of militants dead, was waged in the town of Chinagodrar, on Niger’s troubled border with Mali.
The Nigerian military managed to repel them thanks to the air support provided by the local aviation and that of the allies (probably American or French drones).
A state of emergency has been proclaimed in the area to prevent recurring jihadist raids. The Tillaberi authorities have also decided to "ban the movement of motorcycles, night and day" in various locations, including the regional capital of Tillaberi.
Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso are the three major Sahel States affected by the violence of several terrorist groups that move from one Country to another. On January 8, Mohamed Ibn Chambas at the head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), declared before members of the UN Security Council that 4,000 people were killed in jihadist attackss between Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali in 2019 compared to 770 deaths in 2016.
The number of internally displaced persons in these three Countries has also increased tenfold to around half a million. Another 25,000 people have instead found refuge in neighboring countries.
In Burkina Faso one of the dioceses most affected by the violence of the jihadists is that of Fada'Ngourma, the largest in the Country. The local Ordinary, His Exc. Mgr. Pierre Claver Malgo, observed that there are several Islamist groups operating in the region and for him "it is clear that everyone has a plan: to occupy the entire Sahel region". Mgr. Malgo denounced that when Christian faithful are attacked "they are always asked to convert to Islam and renounce their faith. Not to mention the destruction and desecration of Christian religious symbols".
We recall that in 2019 three priests were killed in Burkina Faso while Father Pierluigi Maccalli, of the Society of African Missions (SMA), kidnapped in Niger, in the mission of Bamoanga, still in the hands of his kidnappers, on the night between 17 and 18 September 2018. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 10/1/2020)