Niger: army massacres displaced peasants

Niger's army on July 6 killed at least 14 displaced persons who were apparently mistaken for jihadists in the restive southeast, where Boko Haram militants have staged regular attacks. Soldiers were patrolling a militarily restricted zone around the village of Abadam near Lake Chad when they opened fire on what turned out to be unarmed peasants. Yahaya Godi, official in charge of the Diffa region, said: "Any individual seen in the area is considered Boko Haram." Thousands of people have been displaced from the southeastern Diffa region, and civilians have been banned from many areas in response to raids by Boko Haram from across the border in Nigeria. Many, however, have been returning to their lands to tend their crops, fearing hunger and permanent displacement.

The Boko Haram insurgency, under growing pressure in Nigeria, is now spreading to Niger and Chad—while still launching terror attacks in Nigeria's cities. Late last month, Boko Haram suicide blasts left several dead in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, while feirce gun-battles were reported between militants and security forces in Chadian territory. Nigeria, Niger and Chad have joined with Cameroon and Benin to form a five-nation regional force against Boko Haram. (Nigeria Today, BBC News, July 6; Al Jazeera, June 28)

Note that in Uganda, the clearance of peasants from their traditional territories to create counterinsurgency zones has resulted in usurpation of their lands. Peasants have also been usurped of their lands in the official "villagization" program in Ethiopia.