Niger Republic Releases Boko Haram members, ‘terrorist chiefs’ for peace
Niger has released “terrorist chiefs” from prison, including members of the Boko Haram terrorist group, as part of its reconciliation efforts, according to authorities and state media reports published Saturday.
During a security situation meeting attended by military and government officials as well as traditional chiefs, President Mohamed Bazoum made the news on Friday evening, according to state television.
“I have identified nine terrorist chiefs. I was advised to free the prisoners whom I then received at the presidential palace because I am seeking peace,” Bazoum was quoted as saying.
The prisoners were held in the southern town of Kollo and the high-security Koutoukale prison, he said.
“These releases are the first of their kind that have been publicly disclosed as part of the search for and restoration of peace in Niger,” a presidential source told AFP.
According to a presidential source, the release took place over the course of three months and includes members of the Boko Haram group.
Niger, the world’s poorest nation according to the United Nations’ Human Development Index, is battling two jihadist insurgencies at the same time.
Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province, both based in the country’s southeast near the border with Nigeria, have been battling it in the west, while the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara has been waging an offensive in the east.
Bazoum said that 12,000 Nigerien troops were engaged in combat with terrorists, and he emphasized the need of Western assistance in the operations.