Junta-led Sahel states to form joint force to fight insurgents

Flags of Sahel region nations Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.
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Junta-led Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali have agreed to set up a joint force to tackle security threats across their territories, Niger’s armed forces chief Moussa Salaou Barmou said yesterday after a meeting with his counterparts.

The decision is the latest sign of closer alignment to emerge since the three neighbours in West Africa’s insurgency-torn central Sahel region severed military ties with longstanding allies including France and formed a cooperation pact known as the Alliance of Sahel States (AES).

In a televised statement, Barmou said the new task force would be “operational as soon as possible to meet the security challenges,” but did not give further details on the size or remit of the force.

Violence in the region, fuelled by the decade-long fight with groups linked to Al Qaeda and Islamic State, has worsened since the three countries’ militaries seized power in a series of coups from 2020 to 2023.

It hit a high in 2023, with conflict fatalities in the central Sahel rising by 38% compared with the previous year, according to US-based crisis-monitoring group ACLED, citing reports of over 8 000 people killed in Burkina Faso alone last year.

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