“The jihadists told the students that they should return to the village to see their families again and to seek help to continue their studies,” Fr. Armanino who ministers in Niger’s Archdiocese of Niamey says in the Monday, March 22 news report.
“Perhaps it is only a threat, a provocation, a lie aimed at continuing to terrorize the peasants,” the Italian-born Missionary Priest further says, and adds, “Or there is some truth because the explosive material, also used for the gold mines in the region, is widely available as well as weapons and other explosives which have long been in circulation in this portion of the border between Niger and Burkina Faso.”
Fr. Armanino notes that the threats, whether they are true or not, have undermined the social fabric of the region, which is not more than a hundred kilometers from Niger’s capital, Niamey.
Making reference to the account by the Missionary Cleric, Agenzia Fides reports, “A real psychological war is waged against civilians in the Bomoanga area on the border between Niger and Burkina Faso where, in the night between 17 and 18 September 2018, Fr. Pier Luigi Maccalli, Italian missionary of the Society of African Missions (SMA) was kidnapped by jihadist militiamen.”
Fr. Armanino says that since the kidnapping of Fr. Maccalli, the security situation of Bomoanga has continued to deteriorate, forming ground for armed terrorist groups who are holding thousands of peasants hostage.
Extremists belonging to the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) group are especially notorious in the Tillaberi region of Western Niger.
There have been reported attacks in Niger in an ongoing series of attacks by militants on civilians and soldiers in the Tillabéri region that have left 170 dead and at least 78 injured.
In one of the latest attacks on March 16, gunmen on motorcycles attacked a group of civilians who were returning from a livestock market in Banibangou, near Niger's troubled border with Mali.
The March 16 attack echoed a January massacre that left some 100 people dead in two villages also in the Tillaberi region.
In the interview with Agenzia Fides, Fr. Armanino notes that the relationships of trust between ethnic groups, religions, projects for growth and social development in Niger have been undermined by “those who have an interest in creating a new state of affairs called dictatorship.”