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Battle of Agadez and Arlit

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Title: Battle of Agadez and Arlit  
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Language: English
Subject: France–Niger relations, African-led International Support Mission to Mali, Battle of Hamakouladji, Battle of Araouane, Battle of Djebok
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Battle of Agadez and Arlit

Agadez and Arlit Attacks
Part of the Northern Mali Conflict
Date 23 May 2013
Location Agadez and Arlit, Niger

Islamists tactical victory; Niger military victory

  • Both attacks are launched
  • Agadez Base is re-captured

11 total

  • 8-9 (Agadez)
  • 2 (Arlit)
Casualties and losses
23 dead, 16 wounded
1 foreign soldier dead
10 dead, 1 captured
2 civilians dead, 14-50 wounded

On 23 May 2013, two coordinated attacks perpetrated by Islamists affiliates targeted the two Niger towns of Agadez and Arlit. One being a military base the other a French-owned and operated uranium mine. In the first attack on the Niger military base in which eight attackers participated in, 23 soldiers are confirmed dead by the next day plus a civilian. The second attack claimed a worker at the mine, in which two attackers dubbed.[1] MUJAO later claimed responsibility saying:"We attacked France and Niger for its cooperation with France in the war against sharia (Islamic law)". They also promised more attacks to come in retaliation for Niger's involvement in Northern Mali. Reports suggest Islamist leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar of being the "mastermind" of both attacks supervised by his brigade the "Signatories of Blood". These were the first such of attacks in the country of Niger's history.[2]

Agadez attack

At 5:30 local time, during morning prayers the first of the two suicide attacks hit Agadez a city situated in northern Niger when a group of eight extremists attacked the local army barracks. A suicide car bomber on route to the barracks drive's through the bases barricades exploding inside the barracks, killing several soldiers. This car bomb is then followed by a twin vehicle that enters the base opening fire on soldiers.[3] A lengthy gun battle follows as Islamists take hold of the barracks dormitory and an office. In a matter of hours the fight spreads throughout the base into the streets where a civilian is killed in the cross-fire. By the late-afternoon, extremists elements take refuge in the barracks' dormitory taking five soldiers hostage.[4] The hostage takers threaten to blow themselves up with explosives, but negotiate with the army. By the next morning, three of the hostages are killed before Niger troops with help from French special forces based in Mali, raid the building killing two of the extremists, and capturing one. The two surviving hostages are freed. According to the Niger army, 23 soldiers were killed in the Agadez base attack plus a foreign-training Cameroonian soldier. In addition all eight of the attackers were confirmed killed, rumors spread about a ninth being taken alive.[5]

Arlit attack

A few minutes following the Agadez attack, two suicide bomber's disguised in military fatigues drove their car into an Areva uranium mine in Arlit, the largest in the country operated by a French company. The car explodes in front of a pick-up bus carrying workers to the facility. Besides the two suicide bombers, a worker is killed and sixteen others injured. The plant was forced to shut down from damage caused by the blast.[6] The main target was said to be French officials operating at the plant.[7]


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