EU deploys anti-terror team in Niger By TAMBA JEAN-MATTHEW | Sunday, August 12 2012 at 10:55
The European Union has begun deploying a civilian security team in Niger to help stave off the activities terrorist gangs operating in the Sahel region.
Sources said an initial contingent of unspecified number of men and security equipment arrived in the capital, Niamey, on Thursday last week as the deployment continues over the next two weeks.
Niger is seen to serve as a transit terrain for criminal and terrorist groups operating in the Sahel that are feared to be seeking to build networks with similar groups in the Horn of Africa region.
The EU team is expected in the main to gather intelligence and provide leads that could be used to intercept the movement and communication of the terrorist groups in the region.
Over the last three years several European citizens have been kidnapped by terrorists in Niger; some have been killed while other released allegedly after ransoms are paid.
The deployment comes as arrangements are being discussed at international community level on how to flush out radical Islamist groups that have taken control of northern Mali.
The African Union in conjunction with West African leaders have appealed for logistical assistance from France and other EU countries to militarily recapture northern Mali.
In the meantime, the assorted extremist elements in the region are busy forging alliances.
Frances has responded positively to the appeal for military assistance, but has put a condition that the UN Security Council must endorse any military action.
Last Thursday, a shooting incident erupted between Nigerien security men at the Tillabery frontier with Mali that lasted for several hours and led to the killing of two of the four assailants.
The third was arrested while one escaped and a quantity of arms were confiscated in a four-wheel jeep that the assailants drove from Malian territory as the attempted to enter Niger.
The political crisis in Mali sparked by the March 22 military coup has since mutated into the Islamist takeover of the spillover of thousands of refugees into neighbouring states.
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