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New armed group threatens to attack Niger's uranium mines

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows Nigerien soldiers patrolling near Bosso in Niger. (AFP)

A new armed group has threatened to carry out attacks on Niger’s uranium mines in protest against marginalization of the minority Toubou population.

Adam Tcheke Koudigan, who described himself as interim president of the so-called Movement for Justice and the Rehabilitation of Niger, said on Wednesday that it would target areas near the country’s rich uranium mines.

"The Movement for Justice and the Rehabilitation of Niger wishes to inform... that we will take up an armed fight to obtain our fundamental rights," Koudigan said in a video, while surrounded by armed men, one of whom held a rocket launcher.

He also accused Nigerien authorities of turning a blind eye to environmental degradation near oil sites.

“We are on the ground, ready... and when the time comes, we will attack Niger,” Koudigan said, adding, “The government of Niger has remained completely indifferent to our more than legitimate demands.”

The armed group also blamed China National Petroleum Corporation for "making millions of dollars" by ignoring the welfare of locals.

However, a government source in the Nigerien capital Niamey dismissed the video as a “media stunt,” saying Koudigan was "insignificant and has no one behind him."

Toubous is spread across Niger, Chad, Libya and Sudan.

Niger, one of the world's poorest countries, is already facing attacks from Nigeria-based Boko Haram Takfiri militants and other groups near its uranium mines.

Over the past years, security has been stepped up at Niger's Areva's Arlit mines operated by France.

Niger provides one-fifth of France's uranium needs.

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