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Niger Junta Confirms Rebel Sabotage of Oil Pipeline to Benin

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Mbeki edmond

Jun 22, 2024

Rebel Group Claims Responsibility for Attack Amidst Ongoing Tensions and Threatens Further Action

The military leaders who took power in Niger this year have commissioned a giant oil pipeline to Benin

Niger’s junta has confirmed that anti-junta rebels sabotaged an oil pipeline transporting crude oil to Benin. The Patriotic Liberation Front, advocating for the release of former President Mohamed Bazoum, who was ousted in a coup last July, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group has threatened further assaults on oil installations and urged Chinese companies operating the pipeline to withdraw support for the military regime. This incident is a significant setback for the newly opened 2,000km pipeline, crucial to both Niger and Benin's economies, amid deteriorating bilateral relations.

State media reported that those responsible for the pipeline sabotage would be apprehended and prosecuted. Public prosecutor Ousmane Baydo confirmed the group's involvement. Footage from Tele Sahel showed extensive oil spill damage in Niger's southern Zinder region.

The pipeline, launched last year, connects Niger's Agadem oilfield to Benin’s coast. However, its future is uncertain following last year’s coup and the subsequent regional sanctions on Niger. Although Ecowas lifted sanctions and reopened borders in February, Niger kept its borders closed to Benin, accusing it of hosting French forces training insurgents. This led Benin to block Niger’s initial oil exports.

Despite France denying any military presence in Benin, tensions between the countries have persisted. China intervened to ease the situation, allowing Niger to export its first crude batch via Benin in May. Nonetheless, disputes continued, with five Niger nationals recently arrested at a Benin oil port, halting a second crude shipment. Three were given suspended sentences and expelled to Niamey.

This ongoing conflict threatens the stability and economic prospects of both nations as Niger aligns more closely with Russia, having expelled French troops that were combating regional militant Islamists.

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