Niamey, Niger (PANA) - Two Nigerien soldiers and six gunmen died in clashes between patrol teams of the Nigerien Armed Forces (FAN) and a group of drug smugglers and fighters of Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), a statement released by the Nigerien Ministry of National Defence disclosed Friday.
The statement said the first clash occurred 3 September in Djado (extreme north of Niger), between a Nigerien patrol team and the drug dealers.
The Nigerien Armed Forces recorded a casualty, one slightly injured, while three of the traffickers were killed.
During the operation, the Nigerien army recovered three Toyota pick-up vans containing 4,959 kg of cannabis resin and a large quantity of ammunition.
The second clash, on Thursday, 15 September, that pitched a detachment of the Nigerien Armed Forces against a group of AQMI fighters in the north, recorded a death toll and two wounded on the side of the government armed forces and three dead on the side of the gunmen.
Defence forces recovered two vehicles, a large quantity of ammunition, while 59 young recruits, aged between 19 and 20 years, were also arrested, the statement said.
The statement also said that following the deteriorating situation in Libya, an additional security apparatus was set up in the Agadez region (North), as patrol teams regularly monitor situations on the ground alongside aerial reconnaissance.
-0- PANA SA/TBM/IBA/MTD/BOS 16Sept2011