France says its drone strikes killed dozens of extremists in Niger

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French drone strikes killed nearly 40 Islamic extremists earlier this week who were traveling on motorcycles near Niger's border with Burkina Faso, France's military announced Thursday.

In a statement, the French military called the strikes a “new tactical success” for France's counterterrorism efforts in Africa's Sahel region, named Operation Barkhane.

“Intelligence obtained from Nigerien units in contact with the column confirmed that the motorcycles belonged to an armed terrorist group moving between Burkina Faso and Niger,” Barkhane said in the statement.

“In close coordination with Niger's Armed Forces, the Barkhane force conducted several strikes against the column. Nearly 40 terrorists were neutralized.”

Niger's government also issued a statement, saying the jihadis were killed after an attack earlier this week killed eight security forces in southwestern Niger.

After being kicked out of Mali and the presence of a military government in Burkina Faso, Niger has become France's more reliable ally in the Sahel.

France has said that it planned to reposition its forces from Mali to other countries in the Sahel region including Niger. Extremist violence is growing in the Sahel, including in Niger’s southwest neighbor, Burkina Faso, which is battling growing jihadi attacks.

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