Niger army kills five 'bandits'

Soldiers also seize automatic rifles and a grenade launcher in the troubled Arlit province.

    Tuaregs have been calling for more autonomy [AP]

    Military sources said that armed men also attacked two public buses, injuring two passengers and robbing others, late on Thursday on the road between the main regional towns of Arlit and Agadez.
     
    Around eight passengers were briefly kidnapped.
     
    A senior military police officer said: "We have started search operations and everything is being done to find these attackers. It is the work of bandits who live off the backs of others."
     
    Autonomy
     
    The former French colony's desert north was the scene of a rebellion in the 1990s by light-skinned ethnic Tuareg, Arab and Toubou groups demanding more autonomy from a black African-dominated government.
     
    Most groups accepted peace deals in 1995, but insecurity remains rife, with frequent acts of banditry, carjacking and kidnapping by former rebels who say they are still marginalised and accuse the government of failing to respect the accords.
     
    On February 8, ex-rebel fighters attacked the town of Iferouane in the same northeast zone, killing three government soldiers.
     
    The attack was claimed by a Tuareg group calling itself the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ).
     
    The group has demanded more Tuaregs be appointed to regional civilian and military posts and that income from Niger's natural resources be more fairly shared out.
     
    Niger's government dismisses the fighters in the north as "highway bandits" and refuses to use the term "rebellion".
     
    Despite being the world's third largest producer of uranium, Niger is one of the poorest nations on earth.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.