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13.01.2020 Africa

Minute of silence at UN for 89 Niger troops

By AFP
A military ceremony on December 22, 2019, in Niamey, paying homage to 71 Nigerien soldiers massacred in an attack -- about a month before 89 other troops from Niger were slain by jihadists.  By Ludovic MARIN (POOL/AFP/File)
LISTEN JAN 13, 2020
A military ceremony on December 22, 2019, in Niamey, paying homage to 71 Nigerien soldiers massacred in an attack -- about a month before 89 other troops from Niger were slain by jihadists. By Ludovic MARIN (POOL/AFP/File)

UN Security Council ambassadors stood for a minute of silence Monday in memory of 89 soldiers killed last week during a jihadist assault on a Niger military base.

The 15 members of the council "strongly condemn" the attack, said Dan Dinh Quy, the ambassador for Vietnam which holds the council's rotating presidency this month.

Thursday's assault, near the Mali border, was the worst in Niger's history. The country is a member of the G5 Sahel force whose members have come under increasing attack from extremists they have been sent to fight.

"Niger and West Africa need you all" in combat against against the extremists, Niger's Ambassador Abdou Abarry stressed to his partner nations on the council.

Niger is a non-permanent member of the Security Council, and is joined in the G5 Sahel by Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Mauritania.

The moment of silence came on the same day that French President Emmanuel Macron hosts counterparts from the five Sahel countries to reassess their joint fight against the extremists.

Macron insists Sahel leaders must use the occasion to publicly reiterate their support for France's military presence. He said last month he was loathe to send soldiers to countries where they were not "clearly wanted."

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is also to attend the talks, which coincide with plans by Washington to reduce its troop presence in Africa.

Some US troops provide logistical support to the French anti-jihadist operation based in Mali.

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