Former rebels in Niger surrender weapons to authorities

About a hundred former fighters with the Movement for Justice and the Rehabilitation of Niger (MJRN) handed over a significant arsenal
Chadian soldiers display arms captured from Boko Haram militants on April 3, 2015 in Malam Fatori, in northeastern Nigeria, which was retaken from Islamist Boko Haram militants by troops from neighbouring Chad and Niger. Soldiers from Chad and Niger on April 1, drove Boko Haram Islamist militants from the border town that was one of the insurgency’s last footholds in northeastern Nigeria. AFP PHOTO/PHILIPPE DESMAZES (Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP)

Former rebels from the minority Toubou ethnic group in northern Niger, who surrendered to authorities last week, handed in their weapons Monday, local officials told AFP.

About a hundred former fighters with the Movement for Justice and the Rehabilitation of Niger (MJRN) handed over a significant arsenal in the northern city of Dirkou, a senior official in the northern Agadez region told AFP.

Dirkou mayor Boubakar Jerome told AFP the ceremony was attended by military officers and civilian officials.

The MJRN first appeared in 2016, when leader Adam Tcheke Koudigan issued a statement threatening to attack Niger if the Toubou were not granted their basic rights.

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Fighters of the MJRN were active in Niger’s Tenere, a dry desert region that is part of the Sahara, before falling back into Libya to the north.

“Today, now that Libya has become a great threat for everyone, they have negotiated their peaceful return home,” according to one local politician.

But other members of the MJRN, including Koudigan, remain at large, Niger’s online news site Air-Info noted.

Koudigan has accused the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) of making millions of dollars in profit in the region, while destroying the environment for local people.

Niger’s northern desert region, one of the country’s main tourist draws, has been the site of two Touareg uprisings, from 1991-1995 then 2007-2009, during which the Toubou made common cause with them.

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