On Friday, the French Defense Ministry released a statement saying that French forces in a joint military operation with Nigerien troops killed 120 terrorists and seized bomb-making equipment and vehicles in the Sahel. 

Working along the violent tri-border area of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso in the Tillaberi region of Niger, the forces “neutralized” the terrorists without any loss of their own in a stunning operation

“Ten motorcycles and other equipment used for the production of improvised explosive devices and for observation” were seized and destroyed in the operation.

In a statement, Niger’s Defense Minister Issoufou Katambe praised the “cooperation with the strategic partner (France) in the fight against terrorism” alongside the Armed Forces of Niger (FAN). He added that the joint operation “is in line with the recommendations of the Pau Summit of January 13.” The Tillaberi region has been wracked with violence by jihadist groups and the government forces are stretched thin. In a series of attacks in December and January, 174 government troops were killed. 

Now the government, with the help of the French, has struck back. Local authorities have been ramping up security measures by closing markets and banning motorcycle traffic, a commonly used vehicle by jihadist forces in the area. 

Since 2015, Niger has struggled against a wave of jihadist attacks near the border with Mali. The violence has been intensely felt in both the Tillaberi and Tahoua regions, where about 78,000 people have been displaced as a result of the fighting.

Niger is one of the poorest countries in Africa and has been hit hard by the violence in the Sahel and elsewhere. It faces opposition on two fronts: In the southeast, Islamic State West Africa Province insurgents, based out of Nigeria, are active in the Diffa region around Lake Chad. In the western part of the country, jihadists from the Islamic State and affiliated al-Qaeda groups operate in the border region with Mali and Burkina Faso.