Niger to develop national security strategy to fight terror
Niger on Wednesday said it had begun work on a new national security and defence policy as part of its campaign to fight terrorism, in a country where attacks by Boko Haram and the Islamic State are frequent.
During a forum of experts and military brass in the capital Niamey, the president's chief of staff, Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou, announced that the meeting marked the "first phase" in a strategy that would bring in pro-active and long-term measures.
"We no longer want to remain on the back foot and (having to respond with) short-term measures," Mahamadou said.
The four-pronged approach will combine "military strategy", internal security, the fight against terrorism and cyber-crime, he said.
This is the latest move the country has made since jihadists in October ambushed a joint US-Niger patrol in a volatile area near the border with Mali, killing four American soldiers and four Nigerien troops.
In early November, Niger announced that it would allow US forces stationed in the country to arm the drones being used to track jihadists, having previously allowed their use only for surveillance.
Niger's landlocked position in northwest Africa makes it vulnerable to attacks from neighbouring countries. It shares borders with Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, Mali and Nigeria.
In the southeast, Niger faces constant attacks from Boko Haram, whose Islamist insurgency has spilled over from Nigeria at a cost of thousands of lives.
Jihadists including the self-described Islamic State group have also established a presence in the southwest near the border with Mali.
A joint anti-jihadist force linking forces from Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania has also begun operating with support from the French military.