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Sahara News Update, May, 2019
update has been compiled by Christer Wilkinson from a variety
Conflict Group Report
Readers are reminded that the Crisis Group publishes a detailed
monthly report on all rebel attacks and other incidents in the three
countries covered in this news summary
None from Mali or Niger freed but some interesting information.
In Burkina Faso in early May French troops liberated two French citizens
held by kidnappers. But they suffered two fatalities in the French
soldiers in the attack. They also found a South Korean woman and an
US citizen, to their surprise. They acted because they had information
that the hostages would soon be handed over to a Mali group, Katiba
Macina, and would then be very difficult to rescue. The American captive
was later revealed to be another woman, but no details of identity
have been released nor where they were captured.
Another report indicated that an envoy Oumarou Roua , reputedly an
adviser to the president of Niger, went missing near TonoTongo on
his way to meet with an emissary of the Islamic group EIGS to negotiate
for the release of the German NGO staff member kidnapped in April
2018. Details of the disappearance are inconsistent.
At the end of May a report from a journalist, Wassim Nasr, indicated
that a leader of the AQIM jihadist group, Abu Obeida Youssef al-Annabi,
indirectly requested the release of prisoners “old, wounded
and minors", "not fighters", in exchange for the 73-year-old
French captive Sophie Petronin. At around the same time, the Chief
of Staff of the French armed forces, Francois Lecointre, stated that
they did not have accurate information as to where Sophie Petronin
is being held currently.
The IOM DTM site was working again in time for this report.
DTM Niger (March 2019)
Mostly unchanged with in and out traffic balancing at about 10,000
a month. The largest north outflow is still to Libya. It was reported
that some 400 people were shipped back from Algeria by organized transport
in March. Large numbers were reported crossing into Niger in the south
east due to the Boko Harem, many coming into Niger.
DTM Tchad (April 2019)
Still limited information from the north is available due to insecurity.
The estimate is some 550 a day, mostly inbound via Faya. But it also
reported that some 200 people were shipped south through Faya in late
May by the government.
DTM Mali (April 2019)
Around 6,000 a month with an excess of outgoing migrants. The northerly
destination for most migrants was Bordj Moktar in Algeria.
Some more news about the next presidential elections. The former Prime
Minister Hamadou Amadou who is currently in exile is considering a
run for president of Niger. So is General Salou Djibo former head
of the military junta in 2010 and 2011.
The dismissal of General Mhammadou Mounkalila in April for disciplinary
reasons continues to generate protests.
There was another plea from the Niger Government to the EU for aid
to assist in the security of the country in the face of the continuing
Three migrants were saved, but a dozen died of thirst in an unidentified
location in North Niger trying to get to Libya, according to a report
98 people were killed when a gasoline tanker exploded near Niamey
airport: the truck had overturned near some railways lines and started
leaking gasoline, which was being scavenged by local inhabitants.
In mid-May a Niger army patrol was hit by an IED and then gunfire
with a loss of 28 soldiers killed and 6 wounded. This was near the
location at which the American soldiers were ambushed last year.
There were several reports of exasperation concerning the effectiveness
of the army after this attack. The NGO, MSF has suspended much of
its activity in the Tillaberi region in response to this attack.
BraNiger, the only manufacturer of beer and soft drinks in the country
has ceased operation for financial reasons. It is owned by Castel,
a French company.
The UN indicated that some 20,000 people fled from Nigeria to the
south east of Niger in April due to Boko Harem attacks. Another report
from Diffa indicated that kidnapping locals for ransom by Boko Harem
and others has increased significantly.
The Savannah oil company (Canada) is planning more drilling explorations
The penetration of mobile phones in Niger has stopped rising with
a penetration rate of some 45%.
The runway at the American base in Agades is now ready after 100m$
reportedly spent on the base, but it still has security issues, and
the project is behind schedule. Apparently a total of some 660 military
have visited the site. Meanwhile in Niamey a series of demonstrations
against the foreign military bases and their inability to stop terrorist
attacks was held in May.
It was reported that there were frequent power cuts in the capital
Niamey during a Ramadan at 45C.
The new multi-party government in Mali under BouBou Cisse finally
took over. It has some interesting members.
Tiebile Drame who was an active opponent of the current president
“IBK” in the last presidential elections and leader of
the FSD party is now Foreign Minister. The new minister of defense
is General Ibrahim Dahirou Demble who was member of the Junta who
overthrew the previous president “ATT”. He was at one
time prosecuted for the assassination of 20 red berets in 2012. It
should be noted that members of the URD and SADI parties refused to
The teacher’s union strike ended in mid-May after the government
agreed to eight of the teachers ten demands.
Two attacks near Djenne killed four people. The nature of the attackers
was not confirmed.
Heavy rains in Bamako killed one person and injured several. Numerous
houses were destroyed. Floods continued through the following days.
In Bamako the new government stated it was ready to talk to the jihadists
and particularly the Katiba Macina group.
It was reported that the release from captivity of the prefect and
journalist in February was achieved via the release by the Mali government
of 18 captured Jihadists.
Former jihadists from Ansar Eddine and the UN agreed to work together
at the town of Koigoua near Goundam.
The UN agency MINUSMA issued a report that the Ogossagou massacre
of 160 Fulanis early this year was the responsibility of Dozos (Dogon
Regarding the ongoing conflict in Miski, in the north of Tchad the
Crisis Group has published an interesting report (#274) on this issue
and its history.
There are still delays with the payment of compensation for the victims
of Hissene Habre a previous president of Tchad) following his conviction
at a court in Senegal a few years ago.
N’Djamena also suffered from a Ramadan at 45C.
There is still no date for legislative elections in Tchad which have
been postponed several times: previously scheduled for March, the
plan is now to hold them later this year but no date has been scheduled.
An ultimatum was given in May by the Tchad government to the gold
miners in Miski in the north of the country, near the Tibesti Mountains,
to leave. The outcome is not clear.
Outbreaks of violence between farmers and pastoralists occurred in
Eastern Tchad near Abeche. Shortly afterwards a number of arrests
It was reported that some 830 former rebels were re-integrated into
the counties armed forces at Moussoro in May.
The Tchad government removed import and other taxes from all basic
foodstuffs. It also suspended the planned distribution of cotton seed
intended to revitalize the cotton industry. The reasons given varied
A colonel in the mixed Sudan Tchad frontier force in the east of Tchad
was killed by an attack from cattle thieves.