Skip to main content

Report: Islamist militants claim 2 deadly attacks in Niger

By Ibbo Daddy Abdoulaye, Jason Hanna and Pierre Meilhan, CNN
May 24, 2013 -- Updated 0017 GMT (0817 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: 20 soldiers, five assailants dead after another bombing, battle
  • Islamist group MUJAO says attacks are response to cooperation with France
  • Truck bomb kills two assailants, wounds 50 outside mine
  • MUJAO has been fighting French forces in Mali, which borders Niger

Niamey, Niger (CNN) -- An Islamist militant group has claimed responsibility for Thursday's deadly attacks on an army barracks and a uranium mine in Niger, saying they were responses to Niger's cooperation with France in a "war against Sharia," CNN affiliate BFMTV reported.

Twenty soldiers and five assailants were killed, and at least 30 other people -- including civilians -- were injured in attacks about 200 kilometers (124 miles) apart in Niger early Thursday, the African nation's defense minister said.

Karidjo Mahamadou said later security forces were in charge of the two sites, including one where an attacker had taken hostages.

"I ensure that the situation is under control and that the Niger security forces have renewed the vow to secure the country and the people," he said.

A spokesman for the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, or MUJAO, said that "thanks to Allah, we have carried two operations against the enemies of Islam in Niger," BFMTV reported.

MUJAO is among the radical Islamist groups that have been fighting Malian and French forces in Mali, which borders Niger.

Both attacks -- at the army barracks in Agadez in central Niger and a Somair uranium mine in Arlit in northern Niger -- happened about 5 a.m., Niger Domestic Affairs Minister Abdou Labo said.

In Agadez, a regional capital to the southeast of Arlit, a truck carrying armed assailants and explosives detonated in front of the army barracks, Labo said.

A battle ensued in which the 20 soldiers were killed, Labo said. A breakdown of how many deaths were attributable to the bombing and how many happened in the battle wasn't available.

The surviving assailant closed himself in a building with cadets and threatened to detonate explosives, Labo said.

Mahamadou didn't say whether the suspect had been captured when he said everything was under control.

At the Somair mine, operated by French nuclear power group Areva, a truck with explosives blew up at the gates, killing two assailants, Labo said. At least 14 civilians were wounded, Mahamadou said.

Areva said the injured included at least 13 workers.

MUJAO spokesman Abu Walid Sahraoui said the group "attacked France and Niger for its cooperation with France in the war against Sharia," BFMTV reported Thursday.

France deployed about 4,000 troops to Mali, the country directly to Niger's west, in January to drive out Islamist militants -- including MUJAO members -- who had attempted to take control of the country.

Islamic extremists with links to al Qaeda carved out a large portion of northern Mali last year, taking advantage of a chaotic situation after a military coup in March 2012. France took military action this year after the militants began to push into the southern portion of the country.

MUJAO is a splinter group of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, according to the United Nations.

France strongly condemned Thursday's attacks, the French foreign ministry said. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius spoke with his Nigerien counterpart and expressed France's solidarity with Nigerien authorities in the fight against terrorist groups, the ministry said.

Niger, a former colony of France, gained independence in 1960.

Journalist Ibbo Daddy Abdoulaye reported from Niamey, Niger. CNN's Jason Hanna and Pierre Meilhan reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN's Amir Ahmed also contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 0500 GMT (1300 HKT)
China's Xi Jinping and India's Narendra Modi, leaders of the most populous nations face similar challenges. Can they learn from each other?
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 2236 GMT (0636 HKT)
The U.S. is not returning combat troops to Iraq, President Barack Obama insists.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 0038 GMT (0838 HKT)
A man abducted alongside killed U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff tells CNN that no one from the U.S. government has tried to talk with him.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1508 GMT (2308 HKT)
Mulatu Astatke is the founding father of ethio-jazz: a fusion of Ethiopian music with western jazz.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
Have you been to these? The global museum list, released Tuesday, ranks 25 of the world's best museums.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1703 GMT (0103 HKT)
iOS 8, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, comes with new features that you'll enjoy.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 0927 GMT (1727 HKT)
Psychedelic drugs are being researched as a potential treatment for conditions ranging from anxiety to tobacco and alcohol addiction.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 0142 GMT (0942 HKT)
It's a surfer's paradise -- but Diah Rahayu is out on her own when it comes to professional women's wave-riding in Bali.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1409 GMT (2209 HKT)
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1620 GMT (0020 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT