EU sending anti-terror experts to Niger
The EU has formally agreed a two-year mission from next month to help Niger fight organised crime and terrorism in the Sahel.
Armed groups are threatening stability in the region.
The civilian mission, comprising some 50 international and 30 local staff, will be based from August in the Niger capital, Niamey, with liaison officers in the capitals of neighbouring Mali and Mauritania.
“Increased terrorist activity and the consequences of the conflict in Libya have dramatically heightened insecurity in the Sahel,” said European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
The EU mission, which was requested by Niger and may be extended to Mali and Mauritania, is aimed at “strengthening local capacity in fighting terrorism and organised crime,” said Ashton.
The European experts, who for the first year will have a budget of 8.7 million euros, will help train security forces in Niger to improve control of the nation’s vast territory, she added.
Instability in neighbouring Mali is high on the international agenda after fighters linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) took over key northern cities there.