By RFIPalled on 12-12-2019Modified 12-12-2019 at 17:18
After the attack on the evening of Tuesday evening, December 10, against the garrison of this locality located in the west of Niger, president Issoufou returned in emergency and summoned this Thursday a Security Council.
■ The chronology of the fighting
The attack occurs late Tuesday afternoon. Nearly 500 assailants, mounted on motorcycles or on board pick-up trucks, some of which were full of explosives, hurl themselves on the Inates advanced post near the Malian border in the west of the country. quickly, encircle it.
They first target the transmission center of the garrison. Caught in stalls, with no means of warning, the Nigerian soldiers are under heavy fire and salvoes of shells. Rapid ammunition stocks go up in smoke, and then fuel reserves are ignited.
The attackers then go on the offensive: the attack continues inside the camp, which is completely ransacked.
The alert will finally be given later in the evening, around 21h, by elements of the Nigerian army boarded three vehicles that had managed to withdraw and join the military post of Ayorou. Reinforcements are dispatched on the spot at night, and regain control of the military base.
The air force, just like the reinforcements on the ground, arrived late, because the soldiers lacked means of communication, very quickly destroyed by the attackers.
■ The location of the attack and its strategic position
Inates, located nearly 250 km north of the capital Niamey, occupies a strategic position in western Niger. This locality is indeed only 5 km from the Malian border, not far from an area known to host many jihadist fighters: Ansongo wildlife reserve.
We are also here at the node of communication highly prized drug traffickers and weapons, especially for the movement of goods to the Algerian border.
■ The human toll
On Wednesday, in the evening, the Ministry of Defense gave a first official record particularly heavy. Seventy-one soldiers were killed in this attack, including the garrison commander and his deputy. The authorities count a dozen wounded and some soldiers are also missing. This Thursday, Nigerian patrols were still raking the area in search of them.
On the side of the attackers, there would be about sixty killed, according to several military sources consulted by RFI Wednesday.
This attack is in any case the deadliest ever recorded in this border area with Mali.
■ The identity of the attackers
The attack has not been claimed yet. " This is the area of action of the Islamic State , said Wassim Nasr, specialist jihadist groups at France 24. Last July , it was [this group] who was responsible for the first attack on the same base and which has been claimed as such. The modus operandi at the time was kamikazes, then motorcycles, supported by mortar fire , "a scenario similar to that of Tuesday.
#Niger the mm base of # Inates has already been attacked last July by the #EI https://t.co/hwjkEKkcT5 https://t.co/iO3vL3yEoqWassim Nasr (@SimNasr) December 12, 2019
In Niger, the eyes are also turning towards the GISM (Support Group for Islam and Muslims) of Iyad Ag Ghali, merger of AQIM (al-Qaeda), Ansar Dine, al-Mourabitoun and katiba Macina. Some experts support the thesis of cooperation between this group and the Islamic State.
A scenario that does not believe Wassim Nasr: " There is a tolerance between the two groups, the Sahel is the only area in the world where al-Qaeda and IS do not confront. But I do not think they are conducting coordinated attacks because they do not actually need them : al-Qaeda is well established there, Islamic State more and more. The attack on Indelimane [last November] was the Islamic State, and that's its area of action . "
► See also: At least 49 soldiers killed in the attack on a military camp in Indelimane, Mali
What has changed is the level of coordination ...
12-12-2019 - By Léonard Vincent
■ The reaction of the authorities
Niger is still under the shock of this military hecatomb. President Mahamadou Issoufou went home on the night of an international conference in Egypt to preside in Niamey this Thursday morning, a meeting of the National Security Council.
The President of the Republic, Supreme Head of the Armed Forces, HE Mr. IsoufouMhm has regained #Niamey at the moment from Egypt. The President of the Republic will chair tomorrow a meeting of the National Security Council following the tragic attack of # Inates. pic.twitter.com/atWQny552rPresidency of Niger (@PresidenceNiger) December 11, 2019
This extraordinary council started at 10:00 in the presidency. All the ministers concerned are present: that of National Defense, the Interior, Finance and above all the entire military hierarchy, starting with the Chief of General Staff of the armed forces, General Ahmed Mohamed.
Three days of national mourning were decreed for this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
On the same subject
Niger: deep worries after garrison attack at Inates
Niger: dozens of soldiers killed in garrison attack at Inates