AFRICANGLOBE – At least 26 people have been killed after suicide bombers in Niger detonated two car bombs simultaneously, one inside a military camp in the city of Agadez and another in the remote town of Arlit inside a French-operated uranium mine, the country’s ministry of defence said.
Several dozen people were also injured in Thursday’s attacks, which were claimed by the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), as revenge for Niger’s involvement in a French-led military offensive in neighbouring Mali.
Nineteen people were killed in the desert city of Agadez, located almost 1,000km northeast of the capital, where the attackers punched their explosive-laden car past the defences at a military garrison and succeeded in entering the base, said Minister of Defence Mahamadou Karidjo.
After a fierce gunbattle, security forces returned the town to calm but one attacker was still holding soldiers hostage, military sources and local officials said.
By Thursday late evening, the last member of an Arab terrorists that killed 19 in an assault on a Niger army base had been “neutralised”, Defence Minister Mahamadou Karidjo said.
“Everybody has been subdued, the operation is over,” the minister told the reporters, adding that there had never been a hostage situation as earlier reported by the interior minister.
Uranium Mine Attacked
Further north in Arlit, a car bomb struck at the Somair uranium mine operated by French nuclear group Areva.
Areva said one person was killed in the attack and 14 others injured.
Niger officials said crushing and grinding units had been badly damaged at the plant and uranium production had stopped.
The MUJAO, one of the terrorist groups which seized control of northern Mali last year before being driven out by Malian, African and French troops, claimed the near simultaneous bombings.
“Thanks to Allah, we have carried out two operations against the enemies of Islam in Niger,” MUJAO spokesman Abu Walid Sahraoui told the AFP news agency.
“We attacked France and Niger for its cooperation with France in the war against Sharia [Arab law].”