Murder in Tillabery: Calming Niger's Emerging Communal Crisis
Recent massacres of villagers in Niger’s northern Tillabery region could mark a change in a conflict previously characterised mainly by fighting between jihadists and security forces. Authorities fear the growth of anti-jihadist vigilante groups could fuel more attacks on civilians. Tensions between jihadists and vigilantes, which often pit communities against one another, could lead to clashes that imperil civilians and pose new challenges for the state, as seen in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso. Such clashes could fuel local grievances and provide the Islamic State with additional recruits. Niamey should discourage vigilante group formation, which has spurred violence, and mediate communal disputes that fuel armed group recruitment. It should also explore adding locals to the security forces’ ranks, directing them to focus on protecting villagers from banditry, and seek ceasefires with militants.