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Niger: Probe fails to name killer of protestors at anti-French army march

French soldier Captain Francois-Xavier from the 2e REP posing in front of armoured vehicles in the Northern Mali army base of Gao, on December 4, 2021   -  
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THOMAS COEX/AFP or licensors


Investigations by Niger and France have not determined the circumstances of the deaths of three demonstrators during clashes in late November 2021 as a Barkhane force convoy passed near Burkina Faso and Mali, according to the Nigerien government.

The military convoy, which left Abidjan to reach Gao in Mali, was initially blocked and attacked by demonstrators in Kaya in central Burkina Faso. It resumed its journey before being interrupted again by angry demonstrators in Tera, in western Niger.

Three of them were killed in gunfire attributed to Nigerien or French forces.

On December 17, 2021, Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum "demanded an investigation by the French authorities" into the clashes and "ordered an investigation" by Niger.

"The exploitation of the results of the investigation of the gendarmerie of Niger and the French army did not identify the exact course of events that led to the death and injury of demonstrators, Niger and France have decided to ensure together the compensation of the families of victims and injured," said a statement from the Niger Ministry of Interior published Tuesday evening.

The amount of this compensation "equally" between the two countries for each of the victims, was not revealed.

The investigation conducted by the Nigerien gendarmerie "has highlighted serious failures in the maintenance of order planned to manage this situation" by Niger, which "led the French army to use force to extract itself from the pressure of the demonstrators," the statement said.

"The investigation conducted by the French army, while recognizing the use of force by the convoy to extricate itself from the crowd that was threatening it, concludes that the events took place in accordance with the law, with the use of warning shots," it adds.

In addition to the three demonstrators killed, 17 civilians, seven Nigerien gendarmes and seven French soldiers were wounded, the text said.

The demonstration "which was far from being a spontaneous event", "involved several people", "most of whom were young students", according to the ministry.

Paris and Niamey "welcome their collaboration in this particularly sensitive issue" and "are pleased with the solution obtained", saluting "the memory of those who died", says the statement.

Following these incidents, the President of Niger replaced his Minister of the Interior, Alkache Alhada, as well as the High Commander of the National Gendarmerie, General Salifou Wakasso.

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