A Malian group known as Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) has claimed responsibility for twin car bombings that killed more than two dozen people in northwest Niger.
MUJAO spokesman Abu Walid Sahraoui said his group carried out Thursday’s retaliatory attacks to punish Niger's military cooperation with France in the ongoing war in Mali.
“We attacked France and Niger because of its co-operation with France, in the war against Sharia,” Sahraoui added.
Car bombings struck a military camp and a French-run uranium mine in Nigerien towns of Agadez and Arlit, killing at least 26people including 20 soldiers.
These are the first such attacks in Niger since the country helped France as part of a West African force to battle fighters in neighboring Mali.
France launched the war on January 11, under the pretext of halting the advance of rebel fighters in the country. The war has caused a serious humanitarian crisis in northern areas of Mali and has displaced thousands of people who now live in deplorable conditions.
France’s Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reaffirmed in April that the country would keep 1,000 troops in Mali even after the arrival of thousands of UN peacekeepers later this year.