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Niger calls for military aid

Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou on Friday called for weapons to help his country combat militants and traffickers, saying terrorism threats had been compounded by the war in Libya.

“We need help to reinforce our capacity to combat security threats,” he said at the end of a two-day visit to South Africa, where he met with President Jacob Zuma late Thursday.

“These come from militant Islamists from Libya and other countries and criminal traffickers in weapons, drugs and people,” he said.

“We do not need any foreign military presence in Niger. Our military and intelligence has the capacity to deal with the threats,” he said.

He said he had discussed Niger’s developmental and social needs with his South African counterpart, President Jacob Zuma, but he had not asked for material assistance, he told a news conference.

He also declined to give details on a clash Sunday between Niger troops and an armed group that included Malian Tuaregs formerly allied to slain Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi left at least 14 dead on Sunday.

“The prisoners taken there are still being interrogated. We will make a public statement once we have the full information,” Issoufou said.

But he said Niger authorities were preoccupied with the presence of Al-Qaeda operatives in neighbouring Mali.

“Since it is a threat to the region, we are dealing with it at that level through the joint operations body formed by Mauritania, Mali, Algeria and Mali,” he said.