Sunday 7 July 2024 - 02:24

US to Complete Withdrawal from Niger's Air Base 101

Story Code : 1146217
US to Complete Withdrawal from Niger
Niger's ruling junta in April ordered the US to withdraw its nearly 1,000 military personnel from the country, in an embarrassing setback for Washington that followed a coup last year in the West African nation, Reuters reported.

Before the coup, Niger had been a key partner in the US fight against insurgents in the Sahel region of Africa, who have killed thousands of people and displaced millions more

Washington is searching for a Plan B in West Africa but the process is slow and officials caution that US intelligence is dimming on the fast-growing extremist groups in the region.

Air Force Major General Kenneth Ekman, who is in Niger to coordinate the departure, said the US exit from Air Base 101 will be finalized with a ceremony on Sunday evening. The base is located next to Diori Hamani International Airport in the capital Niamey.

"We will do a joint ceremony on that occasion that marks the departure of the last U.S. C-17 (aircraft). The government of Niger will assume control of former US areas and facilities," Ekman said, speaking by video conference.

As the US exits, Russia has deployed military forces to the same base, where they are carrying out training activities.

US officials say there has been no contact between U.S. and Russian personnel there and Ekman stressed he has received assurances from Niger the two nations' forces will be kept separate.