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Niger Makes Peaceful Grads From Gunslingers

A detachment of anti-jihadist Special Forces elements "Almahaou" (Tourbillon) patrol on November 6, 2021 in the Tillaberi region (western Niger), the scene of deadly actions by suspected jihadists since the beginning of the year.

More than 40 former jihadists have completed a de-radicalization and professional training course in southeast Niger, local authorities said Tuesday. This group was the third such class to have completed the rehabilitation course designed by authorities to provide education and job skills.

NIAMEY, NIGER - Forty-two reformed Boko Haram members left the Goudoumaria Training Centre" on Monday in the Diffa region near the Nigerian border, a municipal official said.

Each of the Niger residents left the facility equipped with the tools to set up their own mechanics, plumbing, carpentry, sewing or welding businesses, the authorities said.

They had also followed a course on "practicing moderate Islam" and were made to swear on a copy of the Koran that they would not resort to violence.

Since 2017, the Goudoumaria centre has hosted "386 boarders who have successfully followed the re-socialisation process", Interior Minister Hamadou Adamou Souley said.

General Mahamadou Abou Tarka, the head of a government institution tasked with building dialogue between communities, has said the programme has been a success, and would be repeated in the restive Tillaberi region in the west of the country.

The interior minister and UN officials last week visited the site in Tillaberi, public television reported.

The huge and unstable region of Tillaberi, around 100,000 square kilometers (39,000 square miles) in size, is located in the so-called "three borders" area between Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali and has been the scene of several bloody attacks by jihadist movements since 2017.

Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum, in a new approach, has initiated dialogue with jihadist leaders in an attempt to keep the peace.

Niger, the poorest country in the world according to the UN's Human Development Index, is facing jihadist attacks on two fronts.

Groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group (IS) have carried out massacres in the west of the country, while jihadists associated with Nigeria's Boko Haram and IS have conducted attacks in the southeast.

As well as fighting the Boko Haram jihadists, the Nigerien authorities have offered amnesty to those who agree to surrender and rejoin society.