Niger on Friday received heavy weapons and armored vehicles provided by Egypt to help fight jihadist groups in the east and west of the country, the Nigerien Ministry of Defense announced.
Nigerien military authorities in Niamey received 30 BRDM-2 armored (reconnaissance) vehicles, about 20 mortar shells and a 122 mm cannon, more than 2,000 automatic pistols and AK-47 assault rifles, as well as ammunition, RT reported on Saturday.
Nigerien Defense Minister Alkassoum Indatou hailed “this very important gesture” by Egypt, which he said “continues to show its solidarity” with Niger “in a very difficult security context” in the Sahel region.
During a ceremony in the presence of the Egyptian ambassador to Niger, Indatou noted that Egypt is also training special forces from the Nigerien army.
Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, and along six of its seven borders it faces armed gangs or jihadist groups such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa, as well as other jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.
In its fight against the jihadists, Niger enjoys the support of many Western countries, including France and the United States, and there are about 1,500 French soldiers in the country.
The European Union announced Wednesday the strengthening of its military support to fight jihadist groups.
The EU’s foreign policy official, Josep Borrell, said during a visit to Niamey that Niger “will be the first African country” to benefit from European assistance to equip its forces with “lethal equipment,” especially advanced ammunition for combat helicopters.
Source: Egypt Independent