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Western Officials: Niger Junta Warned They’d Kill Deposed President After Any Military Intervention

(AP Photo/Gbemiga Olamikan)
(AP Photo/Gbemiga Olamikan)

Niger’s junta told a top U.S. diplomat that they would kill deposed President Mohamed Bazoum if neighboring countries attempted any military intervention to restore his rule, two Western officials told The Associated Press.

They spoke to the AP shortly before the West African bloc ECOWAS said it had directed the deployment of a “standby force” to restore democracy in Niger, after its deadline of Sunday to reinstate Bazoum expired.

The threat to the deposed president raises the stakes both for ECOWAS and for the junta, which has shown its willingness to escalate its actions since it seized power on July 26.

Niger was seen as the last country in the Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert that Western nations could partner with to counter jihadi violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people. The international community is scrambling to find a peaceful solution to the country’s leadership crisis.

Representatives of the junta told U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland of the threat to Bazoum during her visit to the country this week, a Western military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Related Story: ‘Want to Send a Message’: Biden Admin Refuses to Pull Troops Out of Niger After ‘Junta’ Stonewalls Negotiations

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