Successful Niger joint operation against militants

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French and Nigerien troops killed around 15 Islamist militants in a joint air and ground operation in south west Niger, France’s armed forces and defence ministry said.

The air raid and ground assault took place near Tongo Tongo, a village close to the border with Mali and north of Niamey.

Tongo Tongo was where, in October 2017, militants killed four US soldiers and four local soldiers in an ambush while on joint patrol.

Islamist militants in Niger are part of a regional insurgency in the sparsely populated deserts of West Africa’s Sahel.

In 2017, five countries – Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Mali and Mauritania – backed by France, launched a task force, the G5 Sahel, to combat the insurgents. France operates in the region through its regional Barkhane force.

During the operation the force recovered 20 motorcycles and a stash of weapons including machine guns, the French military said.