While its passage had already created tensions in Burkina Faso, a French military convoy was again blocked by demonstrators, Saturday, November 27, in Téra (Niger). The latter – going to Mali, passing through Burkina Faso and Niger – has since been able to resume his journey, Agence France-Presse (AFP) learned from the staff.
The clashes made “Three dead and eighteen wounded, including four evacuated to Niamey”said the mayor of Téra, Hama Mamoudou, who was in Niamey at the time of the protests. The French staff was not “Not able to confirm this assessment at this stage”, and tried to shed light on these figures with the Nigerien authorities. Furthermore, “No French soldier was injured”, most “Two civilian drivers of the convoy were injured by stones and civilian trucks, damaged”, the spokesman of the French General Staff, Colonel Pascal Ianni, told AFP.
“The convoy stopped last night in Téra. This morning, when they wanted to resume their progress towards Niamey [à 200 kilomètres de là], they were stopped by a thousand demonstrators and a violent group among them tried to seize the trucks ”, had first detailed the spokesperson. “The Nigerien security forces were there and managed to keep the demonstrators away from the convoy with tear gas”, he explained. Corn, “Around 10:30 am, the tension rose among the thousand demonstrators. Nigerien gendarmes and French soldiers fired warning shots ”, continued the spokesperson.
Growing criticism of the French presence
The convoy was finally able to leave Téra at midday and resume its progress towards Niamey. “We are taking all precautions to secure the convoy and avoid tensions”, assured Colonel Ianni, firmly denying ” fake news “ circulating on social networks according to which the French army killed dozens of Nigerien civilians in Téra.
Criticism of the French military presence is increasing in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. Nearly a hundred vehicles long, the convoy had been stopped for more than a week, in Burkina Faso, following demonstrations against the French military presence. The vehicles had first been slowed down in Bobo-Dioulasso (south-west), in the capital Ouagadougou (center) then in Kaya, about a hundred kilometers north-east of the capital. Four demonstrators had been shot and wounded in undetermined circumstances.
Several demonstrators accused the French soldiers of transporting weapons for the jihadist groups which have terrorized several countries of the Sahel for years and have been fought on the ground by the French army as part of Operation “Barkhane”. In this tense context, the President of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, on Friday evening expressed his « reconnaissance » towards France which he greeted ” the sacrifices “ in the Sahel countries.
In June, Paris undertook to reorganize its military system to fight jihadists in the Sahel, notably by leaving the northernmost bases of Mali (Kidal, Timbuktu and Tessalit), and by reducing its personnel in the region by more than 5,000 men today to between 2,500 and 3,000 men by 2023.