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Watch: Jihadi Fighters Cross into Nigeria-Benin Republic from Sahel as US Troops Leave Agadez Air Base

In a worrying development, a new report from the Clingendael Institute has revealed that jihadi fighters from the Sahel region have made their way into Nigeria through the border with Benin Republic. This comes as US troops are getting ready to depart from Agadez Air Base in Niger Republic in September.

The report, released on Wednesday by the Clingendael Institute, a Dutch think tank with extensive research in the Sahel, highlights a significant security threat to Nigeria. The Sahel region has experienced a rise in terrorist attacks and extremism, especially in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger Republic. The area where these countries meet has been particularly affected, with groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State expanding their influence and carrying out attacks on both government forces and civilians.

Benin, which shares borders with Nigeria, Niger Republic, and Burkina Faso, has seen an increase in violent extremism in its northern regions. The Clingendael report points out that this violence has now spilled over into Nigeria. It reveals a resurgence of banditry in areas controlled by Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), a jihadist militant organization, in Benin. These bandits reportedly have connections in Nigeria.

According to the report, extremists have infiltrated Kainji Lake National Park in Niger and Kebbi states in Nigeria. The report states, “There is evidence to suggest that this involves Sahelian extremists, most likely JNIM. Another group involved could be Darul Salam, which is linked to Boko Haram, if not fully affiliated, and has a lenient attitude towards bandits. Bandits and unidentified armed groups are known to move towards Kebbi State from Sokoto. It is alleged that this includes various fighters from Darul Salam with ties to the Sahel.”

The motives of these Sahel extremists in the park and their relationships with other armed groups are still unclear. However, the report highlights the potential impact of poverty in creating fertile grounds for recruitment by extremist groups, further worsening the already challenging situation along the Nigerian-Benin border.

The departure of US troops from Agadez Air Base follows a series of military coups in West Africa, which have led countries in the region to cut ties with the US and France and seek assistance from Russia. The Clingendael report adds to the growing concerns about the spread of extremism from the Sahel into West Africa, posing a significant security challenge for Nigeria and the wider region.

Stay tuned for more updates on this developing story…

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