The year that passed was a bloody one for the Sahel region. Unfortunately, 2021 also started with a violent outbreak of attacks when more than 100 civilians were killed in Niger by extremists over the weekend.

The attacks took place on the western villages of Tchombangou and Zaroumdareye after the villagers in the Tillaberi region had killed two insurgents. As has been the modus operandi for these attacks, the insurgents arrived on motorcycles and quickly enveloped the communities. The massacre was among the worst attacks on civilians since the violence exploded in the region in 2012. 

No one has yet acknowledged responsibility for the attack.

The Tillaberi region is where four American Special Forces troops and five Nigerien troops were killed in an ambush in October 2017.

A few weeks ago, Niger was again rocked by violence when the Islamic State West Africa Province in the Diffa region launched an attack in which dozens of civilians were killed.

These attacks come on the heels of the deaths of five French soldiers in Mali in two separate IED attacks

Meanwhile, France is wrestling with withdrawing some of its 5,100-strong force from the Sahel as it tries to balance, on the one hand, the defense of the G-5 Sahel countries, and on the other, the demands of the French public opinion.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly, confirmed plans to withdraw about 600 troops that had deployed a year ago. He told the media that, “reinforcements, are by definition, only temporary.”