We could have nothing’: Niger kidnap victims concern border bandits

We could have nothing’: Niger kidnap victims concern border bandits

Kidnapped, held captive and raped by 4 guards, Messaouda is now free, however too afraid to return to her village, close to the southern Niger border with Nigeria.

She was held hostage final yr within the forest between the 2 African nations for 19 days by bandits who repeatedly attacked her and fellow captives, till a ransom was paid for his or her launch.

Messaouda, in her 20’s, was compelled from her dwelling within the Maradi area by armed bandits alongside along with her two co-wives, a six-month-old child and a one-year previous baby, she advised AFP.

“They got here to steal cattle in our village fourteen days earlier than our kidnapping,” she advised AFP.

However when the bandits returned, it wasn’t for livestock.

“On the evening we had been kidnapped, it was raining like a twister,” she recollects.

“Our husband was on the mosque for the night prayer… (when) a dozen folks arrived in our dwelling (and) advised us to come back.”

The group have been launched solely after the cost of two million CFA francs (3,000 euros) in ransom.

They’ve since settled in one other village and Messaouda got here to the city of Madarounfa to fulfill AFP.

Her story is just like that of 1000’s of different victims in neighbouring Nigeria the place armed bandits reign by terror and demand ransoms for his or her victims.

Hostages are normally launched after ransom cost to the gangs, who apparently gap up within the huge Rugu forest straddling Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states.

However the observe is more and more frequent in southern Niger — the world’s poorest nation by the benchmark of the UN’s Human Improvement Index.

The rise in kidnappings is changing into “actually worrying”, mentioned regional governor Chaibou Aboubacar.

Niger has been hit exhausting by the jihadist insurgency that started in northern Mali in 2012.

The nation faces an explosive combination of a local weather and meals crises, in addition to a younger, poor inhabitants in want of jobs — a few of whom search to arm themselves in response to the bandit assaults alongt the porous border.

– ‘Operation Hedgehog’ –

In his small workplace, Souffle de Maradi newspaper editor in chief Maham Kaouge writes down each assault, each kidnapping and each ransom of their area.

In 2021, he counted 91 folks kidnapped — one each 4 days.

Some 51 million CFA francs (80,000 euros) have been paid in ransoms in complete, in response to the journalist.

One of many kidnap victims was Hamissou, who requested to not be absolutely recognized. The 50-year-old was taken by six armed males in March this yr and held for 17 days within the Nigerian forest.

His household, two wives and eleven youngsters managed to gather the ransom by promoting their land.

However the terrifying expertise left him decided to attempt to do what he may towards the bandits.

In any other case “quickly we could have nothing”, he says.

“It can be crucial for us who’re from Maradi to have our personal statistics, that are verifiable.”

He additionally plans to hitch a neighborhood vigilance committee within the village, which makes use of home made weapons to attempt to defend the group.

Some recommend that these teams are secretly supported by the state.

Governor Chaibou has denied it, however says he’s open to “any proposal from all or a part of the inhabitants” that would assist deal with the issue.

However the principle pillar of presidency coverage stays navy motion, he advised AFP.

Troopers, educated by the Belgians, have been deployed alongside the border with Nigeria in a navy operation known as “Hedgehog Hunt”.

“Sustaining social cohesion is the principle problem,” says Hassan Baka, from the Affiliation for the Revitalization of Livestock in Niger, one of many most important teams for breeders within the area.

Along with native officers, Baka helps organise debates within the close by villages in order that “all of the communities perceive we’re linked by the identical future”.

A cooperation framework launched in 2017 between Maradi and Nigeria’s Katsina area will quickly be prolonged to all elements of southern Niger and extra Nigerian states.

Baka and native college instructor Nouhou Salifou Jangorzo say they share the true concern that the simmering tensions and violence will morph into the institution of jihadist teams within the fertile border area.

It will likely be a “nice disaster” on the day “when this banditry turns into terrorism,” the instructor says.

Further sources • AFP

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