Suspected Islamists kill 25 soldiers in Niger: government statement


According to United Nations figures, jihadist attacks in Burkina, Mali and Niger previous year left 4,000 dead.

Pau summit aimed at clarification of the Western African leaders' intentions and plans regarding presence of the French troops in the Sahel.

The meeting, which was originally due to take place in December but was postponed in the wake of an attack on an outpost in Niger killed 71 troops, was attended by the leaders of the Sahel G5 group, made up of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Soldiers worked alongside Malian and other African troops to try to repel the terrorists, with the United Nations Security Council supporting the need for member nations to assist Mali.

"I see opposition movements, groups, who denounce the French presence as a neo-colonial, imperialist", Macron said in Niger last month.

In particular a new "Takuba Task Force" consisting of European special forces will be set up to track down insurgents in the mostly lawless border area linking Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

The first measure of the summit's success will be in June at the next G5 meeting in Mauritania, where Macron has promised to present "tangible results".

Macron had also complained that there is no "clear political condemnation of anti-French feelings" by the G5 Sahel countries. In one instance of escalating violence, suspected jihadist militants in Niger killed 89 soldiers last week.

Attacks have risen fourfold over the past year in Niger, killing almost 400 people, according to data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a nonprofit research organization, despite efforts by worldwide forces to stop militants linked to Islamic State and al-Qaida.

France is closely following the situation in Kashmir, the French government said on Monday and noted that the issue was discussed during a telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron three days ago.

Rights groups, however, have also said that military operations are what is causing increased conflict.

The French military operation, France's largest overseas mission, enjoys broad support at home.

Troops in Niger and Mali are fighting to suppress an insurgency. France intervened in Mali in 2013 after extremists seized control of major towns in the north and implemented a harsh version of Islamic law.

Salif Keita, one of Mali's most popular singers, urged President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in a Facebook video previous year to stop "subjecting yourself to little Emmanuel Macron - he's just a kid".