Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Attack on Agadez airport, Niger

This is not good. The random attack on the international airport at Agadez on Sunday 17th June (no casualties or damage, they say) by a bunch of Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) fighters, apparently firing from a 4x4, means it looks like the whole northern region of Niger may be off-limits to travellers for some time to come. Already travel between towns in the north is restricted to vehicles with military escorts. Using the trans-Saharan routes out of and into northern Niger is strongly advised against, though, as usual, at the time of posting, there was no up-to-date advice from the British FCO based on this news. It's probably hard for them to know what to say, as the UK has no embassy in Niger, the ambassador responsible for Niger being the British High Commissioner in Accra, Ghana, 2000 miles away.


  1. Yes, things are certainly heating up in the north. Hard to know what is "rebellion" (political), what is neighborly inspiration and what is just pure theft. Sad though, because things have been quite calm for a while and I was planning on going there for Christmas...

  2. The attack seems to have been aimed specifically at a couple of reconaissance planes according to a report in Le Républicain. The MNJ themselves claim it was a reaction to the killing of three elderly MNJ associates, including the father of an MNJ commander by the Nigerian armed forces. Not sure if I understand what the MNJ mean by "La milice Tandjaouide", but I presume it's a pun drawing a comparison between Nigerien President Mamadou Tandja's government and the Janjaweed militia in Darfur. If so, it's a curious analogy: I imagaine Tandja might see things in exactly the opposite way. . .

    With Le Républicain referring to an "Armed Rebellion in the North", there's almost certainly a lot more happening than we're going to hear about, and it isn't looking at the moment like isolated cases of banditry but more like a concerted campaign on the government's ability to control the north.