US military loses drone in northern Niger

Training of Nigerian and American soldiers in Ouallam, Niger, in April 2018.
Training of Nigerian and American soldiers in Ouallam, Niger, in April 2018. Aaron Ross / REUTERS

An American drone crashed due to a "Mechanical failure" in the region of Agadez, in the middle of the desert, in the north of Niger, where the United States has a large base of armed drones, indicated, Monday, March 2, the command of the American army in Africa on Twitter. .

"On February 29, the US Africa Command lost a drone in the Agadez area (north). Our first analysis is that it is a mechanical breakdown ", according to the tweet.

It is the second American drone to crash in Niger, a poor country facing very deadly jihadist attacks in its southeastern parts, near Nigeria, and to the west, bordering Mali.

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In October 2014, an American drone crashed for unknown reasons at Niamey Airport, causing the runways to be closed for several hours.

Washington began to fly its unmanned vehicles from Niamey airport, in particular to provide intelligence support to the French forces, engaged from January 2013 against the Islamist groups that had taken control of northern Mali, then, in the framework of the anti-jihadist struggle in general.

Traffic corridor

Niger has authorized the construction of a large American drone base in Agadez, giving the United States a monitoring platform for the entire Sahel.

The Dirkou base, near Libya, has also been used by the Americans for their armed drones since 2019.

France has a base at Niamey airport from where recently armed fighter jets and drones take off. In the Sahel, 5,100 French soldiers from the anti-jihadist operation "Barkhane" are deployed.

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The immense desert north of Niger, notably the area of ​​the Salvador pass, not far from the border with Libya, is a corridor renowned for trafficking in drugs, weapons, migrants, and which also shelters jihadist groups. .

On October 4, 2017, four American soldiers and five Nigerien soldiers were killed in an ambush in Tongo Tongo, a village near Mali, in the southwest. This attack was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.

Jihadist violence – often interspersed with inter-community conflicts – claimed the lives of 4,000 people in 2019 in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, according to the United Nations.

The World with AFP


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