The Nigerien National Guard (GNN) said Sunday that seven Nigerien soldiers were killed when their vehicle exploded on a mine in the western region of Tillabéri, where jihadist groups regularly operate.
“A vehicle of the weekly supply escort mission hit a mine late this morning, about 6km from the village of Samira, in the department of Gothèye, near the border with Burkina Faso, said a statement from the GNN, which is attached to the Interior Ministry and is at the forefront of the anti-jihadist fight.
“Unfortunately, the death of seven occupants of the vehicle is deplored,” the statement read on state television Sunday evening.
The village of Samira has been home to Niger’s only industrial gold mine since 2004.
The department of Gothèye is located on the right bank of the Niger River in the region of Tillabéri, the area of the three borders between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.
The Nigerien government has been fighting jihadist groups linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) there since February 2022, in an operation called Niya (Will, in the local language), with more than 2,000 men.
Niger is also facing deadly actions by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa (Iswap) in its south-eastern part.
Last week, the army killed “six terrorists” and captured 19 in the Ayorou area (Tillabéri region), where violent clashes between communities have recently left several dead.
In June 2022, eight gendarmes were killed and thirty-three wounded in a “terrorist” attack in Waraou, a locality in the department of Gothèye.
In its fight against the jihadists, Niger benefits from the support of several Western countries, including France and the United States, which have military bases there.
Paris is in the process of reorganising its military presence in the Sahel, where Niger is a key ally hosting some 2,000 French soldiers, while those present in Mali and Burkina Faso have been driven out.