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Niger: more than 13,000 women and children have fled "exactions"

Niger: more than 13,000 women and children have fled "exactions"
Women gather at the arrival of Antonio Guterres in a camp for displaced...   -  
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ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP or licensors


More than 13,000 women and children have fled the islands of the Niger River, after "exactions" by armed men in these territories of the Tillabéri region (west), where clashes between communities have left several dead, said Tuesday the Nigerien public radio station Voix du Sahel.

"In Ayorou, it's desolation (...) More than 13,000 women and children from 46 islands (in the Niger River) have fled the abuses of armed bandits" to take refuge in this town located 200 km from Niamey, according to the radio.

The communes of Dessa and Kandadji, where the site of the country's first hydroelectric dam is located, "have been facing abuses" committed by "armed bandits" (an expression used in Niger to designate suspected jihadists ) for several days, added the radio.

During the night from Saturday to Sunday, four civilians were killed and another injured in an attack in Dessa, she said.

A dozen parliamentarians from the Tillabéri region went to the three localities on Monday "to provide support and comfort" to the "upset population" and "calm people's minds", according to the Voice of the Sahel. One of the deputies, Hassoumi Tahirou Mayaki , described "very bruised populations" by this violence.

According to local sources, "violent clashes" had opposed in late April and early May sedentary Djerma and nomadic Fulani herders in villages and hamlets bordering the Niger River, causing " several deaths, injuries" and "many displaced" towards Ayorou.

A local journalist explained that these clashes followed "several assassinations" of villagers by suspected jihadists who also steal cattle and "demand taxes".

Elected officials from Ayorou and Dessa confirmed the clashes, without establishing a precise toll of the victims. "Before the clashes, armed men on motorbikes issued an ultimatum to sedentary people to leave their homes," said the elected official of Ayorou.

The Nigerien government has not confirmed this community violence in these areas, where cohabitation is generally peaceful. The Tillabéri region, with an area of ​​100,000 km2, is located in the so-called "three borders" zone between Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.

Several ethnic groups - Djerma, Fulani, Tuareg and Hausa - live in this region. Niger has launched several large-scale operations there against the jihadists, with the recent support, within the framework of a "combat partnership" , of French soldiers.

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