Eighteen members of the Islamic State affiliate active in Niger have been killed in a 10-day operation completed by the Nigerien military in partnership with France, Mali and the United States.
That’s according to defense minister Kalla Moutari in Niamey, who announced the results of the ACONIT operation in a statement issued Thursday in which he praised the productive military cooperation between Niger and its strategic partners.
The action was taken between June 8 and 18 in the North Tongo Tongo region where the armed extremists have been active. It was coordinated in response to a May 14 attack near Tongo Tongo – not far from the border with Mali – that left more than two dozen Nigerien soldiers killed.
President Issoufou Mahamadou called the May attack barbaric, but it is one of many the Nigerien government has been forced to cope with in the ongoing battle with terrorists across Sahelian nations.
Most recently, it was U.S. personnel who were targeted by an improvised explosive device near Ouallam on June 8. There were no casualties in that incident, which occurred during a joint exercise with Nigerien and U.S. forces.
“Niger is a vital partner in the fight against violent extremist organizations. U.S. forces are in Niger to work by, with, and through Nigerien partners to promote stability and security while enabling them to address their security threats,” the U.S. said in a statement on the IED incident.
France acknowledged its role in the ACONIT operation on Thursday, adding that Malian forces also participated alongside its Operation Barkhane troops. France put the Islamic State death toll at more than 20, and said some 400 French troops participated in the mission at the request of Issoufou.
Image: Defense Ministry, France