February 25, 2020 by hotminnie
A joint operation by Nigerien and French troops in southwest Niger (Barkhane – Opération Tchera au Nord-Niger) eliminated 120 terrorists and seized bomb-making equipment and vehicles, French defence ministry said. As of February 20 “120 terrorists have been neutralized” in the operation in the vast Tillaberi region near the border with Mali and Burkina Faso, France 24 reported. AFP, another French press, confirmed the news.
French and Nigerien troops suffered no losses according to the reports.
Jihadists attacked a Niger army base earlier this year and perpetrated other terror attacks on Nigerien troops, killing at least 89 early January, four security sources said, An earlier raid in Dec 2019 killed 71 soldiers, making it the deadliest against Nigerien forces in years, according to Reuters.
The French-led Operation Barkhane succeeded Operation Serval in August 2014, but with a much wider geographic focus. The force, with approximately 4,500 soldiers, is spread out between Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad. While its headquarters is in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital, it also has fighter aircraft and bases for intelligence collection and operations in Niger’s capital Niamey, Agadez, Arlit, Tillabéry, and several other sites, as well as around 1,500 troops in northern Mali scattered between the large base at Gao, others at Kidal, Timbuktu, and Tessalit, and more recently a base at Gossi closer to central Mali as well as the border with Burkina Faso. France’s Special Operations Task Force for the region, Operation Sabre, is in Burkina Faso.
Operation Barkhane is France’s largest overseas operation, with a budget of nearly €600m per year. It engages in everything from combat patrols alongside Malian forces and partner militias to intelligence gathering and training to local development activities meant to fill the hole left by an absent government. Despite this range, French officials insist that Barkhane’s priority is counterterrorism and it has undertaken operations to kill important jihadist leaders, including two of the five founding leaders of the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wa al-Muslimeen, JNIM) as well as Almansour Ag Alkassoum and a number of others, European Council on Foreign Relations reported.