25 killed, 30 injured in suicide attacks in Niger

Niamey, May 23 (IANS) At least 25 people were killed and 30 got injured after two suicide bomb attacks Thursday at a military base and a plant run by French nuclear giant Areva in northern Niger, reported Xinhua.

A total of 20 Nigerien soldiers and 5 assailants died in twin suicide attacks against a military barracks in Agadez, the main town in northern Niger, and another one at a factory owned by Somair, a subsidiary of the French group Areva in Arlit in the same region.

The attacks were announced Thursday morning by Niger’s National Defence Minister Karidjo Mahamadou who issued a press statement.

There were also 30 people – 16 soldiers and 14 civilians – who were injured, a source said.

“At around 5:30 a.m, two groups of individuals armed with explosives on board Toyota 4×4, simultaneously drove into the Agadez military barracks and the factory of Somair mining company in Arlit with a firm determination to carry out attacks,” as per the statement from the defence minister.

“These terrorist attacks carried out by the suicide-bombers were contained by our soldiers who, despite the heavy loss, managed to neutralize the assailants some of whom decided to blow themselves up,” the minister said in the statement.

The Agadez death toll was 20 soldiers and 16 of them injured, while 3 assailants were killed. In Arlit, 14 civilians were injured while two assailants were killed.

The defence minister said that the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), an Islamist group operating in northern Mali, claimed responsibility for the twin suicide attacks.

“The situation is under control and the search for other assailants has already been launched,” the minister said while also promising to inform the public about how the situation develops.

A three day national mourning period will be observed across the entire country starting on Thursday.

“The Nigerien armed forces would wish to reaffirm their commitment to defend and protect Niger and its people at all cost,” the minister reiterated.

These were the first attacks on the Nigerien territory since the beginning of the crisis in neighbouring northern Mali.

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