Forty fighters neutralized in drone strikes in Niger republic

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French drone strikes have killed nearly 40 fighters earlier travelling on motorcycles near Niger’s border with Burkina Faso,

In a statement, French military called the strikes a new tactical success for France’s counterterrorism efforts in Africa’s Sahel region.

The drone strikes in Niger come as France reorganizes its military efforts in the broader Sahel region, the vast area south of the Sahara Desert where it was once a colonial power and still maintains strong economic ties.

Niger has become a more reliable ally of France, after military coups overthrew the democratically elected presidents of neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso over the last two years.

Earlier this year, France announced it was withdrawing all its forces from Mali nine years after the French military led an effort that ousted armed groups from Timbuktu and other centers in northern Mali.

France has said it planned to reposition its forces from Mali to other countries in the Sahel region including Niger Republic.