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Niger: 29 soldiers killed in an attack, Algerian mediation in sight

Niger: 29 soldiers killed in an attack, Algerian mediation in sight
Nigerien soldiers stand guard outside Nigerien and French air bases in Niamey   -  
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-/AFP or licensors


Niger is in mourning on Tuesday after the death of 29 soldiers in a jihadist attack, at a time when the military regime agreed to examine an offer of mediation from Algeria for a "political solution" to the crisis.

The attack "combining the use of improvised explosive devices and kamikaze vehicles by more than a hundred terrorists" targeted a detachment of security forces, in Tabatol near the border with Mali, indicates a press release from the ministry. of the defence.

"The provisional assessment of this attack is as follows: on the friendly side, 29 soldiers fell as heroes, two were seriously injured", continues the text which specifies that "several dozen terrorists" were killed. A three-day national mourning was declared.

Niger continues to face recurring jihadist violence.

This is the heaviest death toll since the military came to power, who justified their July 26 coup in particular by the deterioration of the security situation. In mid-August, 17 soldiers were killed in an attack near the border with Burkina Faso.

Monday afternoon, the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that it had received from Niamey "acceptance of Algerian mediation aimed at promoting a political solution to the Niger crisis".

Niamey acknowledged having "expressed the availability of the Nigerien authorities to examine Algeria's offer of mediation", indicated a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

But the military reiterated that they intended to remain in control of the timetable, affirming that the duration of the transition to civilian rule would be set by an "inclusive national forum" in Niger, and not by any mediator.

If Algeria, Niger's influential neighbour, did not mention a transition period in its press release on Monday, it had proposed at the end of August a period of six months under the supervision of a " civil authority led by a consensual and accepted by all sides of the political class.

On August 19, Niger's new strongman, General Abdourahamane Tiani, said he wanted a transition of three years maximum. And on Saturday evening, in an interview on national television, he affirmed that the regime had "no right to spend five years in power".

Since he was overthrown by the military in July, elected president Mohamed Bazoum has been sequestered in his residence with his wife and son. On Monday, his lawyers announced the filing of a complaint in Niamey against the perpetrators.

This complaint, with the constitution of a civil party, consulted Monday by AFP, targets General Tiani and "all others", for "attack and conspiracy against the authority of the State, crimes and offenses committed by civil servants and arrests and arbitrary confinements".

The complaint, on behalf of Mr. Bazoum, his wife and two of their children, should be filed "in the coming days", with the dean of the investigating judges of the Niamey high court, according to one of the lawyers interviewed by AFP, Dominique Inchauspé.

Mr. Bazoum also referred the matter to the working group on arbitrary detention and the Human Rights Committee, two bodies of the UN Human Rights Council, these lawyers said.

On September 18, he appealed to the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), denouncing in particular his "arbitrary arrest".

On Monday, an international collective of lawyers, including the American lawyer specializing in human rights Reed Brody, the former president of Niger Moussa Coulibaly and Mohamed Seydou Diagne of the Dakar bar, called for "the immediate release" of Mr. .Bazoum.

The deposed president and his family "were never presented to a magistrate and were not informed of the existence of any procedure against them", declared the collective in a press release.

In mid-August, the perpetrators of the putsch for their part announced their intention to prosecute Mohamed Bazoum for “high treason” and “endangering the security” of the country.

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