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Three attacks foiled in Niger: government

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A Nigerien soldier covers his face while taking a picture of a mass grave in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 20, 2015. Soldiers from Niger and Chad who liberated the Nigerian town of Damasak from Boko Haram militants have discovered the bodies of at least 70 people, many with their throats slit, scattered under a bridge, a Reuters witness said. REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun

Security forces in Niger have foiled three-weekend attacks in the capital Niamey and in the southeastern city of Diffa, the government said Monday.

Five people including “two known terrorists” were arrested near Niamey’s international airport on Saturday, the defence ministry said in a statement read out over state radio.

“These terrorists intended to perpetrate attacks in the city of Niamey or its environs,” the statement said.

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On Sunday, two attacks were thwarted in the Diffa area, the ministry said.

Diffa, a city of around 200,000 people, has borne the brunt of raids launched by Boko Haram jihadists from their stronghold in northeast Nigeria in the Lake Chad basin.

The lake straddles Niger, Nigeria and Chad.

Overnight Sunday, four other would-be suicide bombers were “neutralised”, one near a fuel depot and three at the Diffa airport, the ministry said.

Local officials had said all four militants were killed at the depot, which stores oil and gas for the region.

Also in Diffa, an attack was averted on a church Sunday morning, the defence ministry said. “The suicide bomber and his guide were arrested outside the church. They had an explosives belt and its detonator” as well as a Tommy gun and ammunition, it said.

It said a joint regional force of soldiers from Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon were carrying out a sweep on land and from the air “against Boko Haram positions in the Lake Chad basin”.

Western embassies had issued warnings on Saturday over possible attacks in the poor Sahel country.

In mid-April, jihadists attacked the central police barracks and took several people hostage in the home of a policeman.

Two members of the security forces and two assailants were killed in an hours-long battle, according to an incomplete toll.

In June 2018, six people were killed when three suicide bombers exploded their suicide belts in a coordinated attack.

An estimated 27,000 people have been killed and two million displaced since Boko Haram launched its insurgency in northeastern Nigeria in 2009, a campaign that has spilt over to Niger as well as Burkina Faso and Chad.

In Niger itself, 88 civilians were killed by Boko Haram in March alone, and more than 18,000 villagers forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.


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