Niger military says 25 soldiers are dead after another large attack blamed on extremists

A US special forces soldier stands in front of Chadian soldiers during Flintlock 2015, an American-led military exercise, in Mao, February 22, 2015. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 January 2020

Niger military says 25 soldiers are dead after another large attack blamed on extremists

NIAMEY: Militants carried out another large assault on Niger's military Thursday, leaving at least 25 soldiers dead along with dozens of extremists only a month after the worst attack of its kind in years, the military said.
The latest violence blamed on extremists struck the town of Chinagodrar right on Niger's troubled border with Mali. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the attack bore the hallmarks of an Daesh-linked group that said it was behind the December ambush near the town of Inates.
Thursday's assault comes just days before French President Emmanuel Macron is due to meet in France with the president of Niger and other leaders from the Sahel region — a meeting that was pushed back a month ago after the unprecedented attack on Niger's armed forces.
The leaders from France's former colonies of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger are due to discuss the future role of the French military in the face of mounting extremist attacks.
Niger's defense ministry said late Thursday that 63 jihadists had been killed along with the 25 soldiers in the attack some 11 kilometers (7 miles) from the border with Mali.
On Wednesday, the UN envoy for West Africa and the Sahel spoke of “a devastating surge in terrorist attacks against civilian and military targets” in recent months.
Mohamed Ibn Chambas told the UN Security Council that terrorist attacks have increased five-fold in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger since 2016. There were more than 4,000 deaths reported in 2019 compared to an estimated 770 deaths in 2016, he said.
Military camps have increasingly been targeted by the extremists, who have amassed more weapons and vehicles for their arsenal with each ambush. Mali's military already has retreated from some of its most remote and vulnerable outposts following a surge in deadly attacks.


Pakistan Hindus rally in Islamabad over India migrant deaths

Updated 25 September 2020

Pakistan Hindus rally in Islamabad over India migrant deaths

  • The dead migrants’ relatives have held small rallies in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province but this was the first time they had taken their demonstration to the country’s capital
  • The protesters accuse India’s secret service of poisoning the 11 Hindus

ISLAMABAD : Pakistan’s minority Hindus rallied late on Thursday in Islamabad, briefly clashing with the police, to protest the deaths of 11 members of a Hindu migrant family who died in India last month under mysterious circumstances.
Since then, the dead migrants’ relatives have held small rallies in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province but this was the first time they had taken their demonstration to the country’s capital, vowing to stage a sit-in near the Indian Embassy.
The protesters accuse India’s secret service of poisoning the 11 Hindus, who were found dead at a farmhouse in India’s Jodhpur district in Rajasthan state. The demonstrators arrived in Islamabad around midnight, chanting, “We want justice.” They briefly skirmished with officers who prevented them from reaching the embassy site.
After the Aug. 9 deaths, Indian media reports suggested the Hindu family members, originally from Pakistan, had taken their own lives. Official Islamabad says New Delhi had not shared any reports of the case.
Thursday’s rally was an unusual move for Pakistan’s Hindus, who have mostly lived without conflict with the country’s predominantly Muslim majority. Earlier this year under pressure from radical Muslims, Pakistani authorities halted construction of a Hindu temple in Islamabad.
Ramesh Kumar, a top leader of the Hindu community who led Thursday’s protest, met on Wednesday with Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, seeking his help in pressuring India to release results of the initial police probe into the case.
Pakistan has also asked for access to a Hindu worker who was at the Jodhpur farm at the time of the deaths, according to government officials.
In his meeting with Qureshi, Kumar said Shrimati Mukhi, the daughter of the head of the family that died, had levelled the poisoning accusations. She earlier this month told local media that India allegedly pressured the family to issue a statement denouncing Pakistan’s government. There was no official comment from India on the allegations.
Last week, Pakistan summoned an Indian diplomat to convey concerns over the “Jodhpur incident.” A subsequent ministry statement said India had “failed to share any substantive details regarding the cause and circumstances of the deaths” of the Hindus and asked for a comprehensive investigation.
Nuclear armed rivals Pakistan and India have a history of bitter relations. Pakistan’s military said Wednesday that two of its soldiers were killed by Indian fire in a cease-fire violation in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. The region is split between the two countries but claimed by both in its entirety. India and Pakistan have fought two out of their three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence in 1947.

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