As a region prone to terrorist activity, Niger opens first military school

"We have set in place with this school the final link in the chain for training our military," President Mohamed Bazoum said at the opening ceremony.

FILE: Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum. Picture: Bernd von Jutrczenka/AFP

NIAMEY - Facing a spate of jihadist attacks, Niger on Friday opened its first military school in the capital Niamey to train future officers.

"We have set in place with this school the final link in the chain for training our military," President Mohamed Bazoum said at the opening ceremony.

The facility would serve as "an important link" to bolster national security in the vast landlocked state bordering Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria and Libya to the north and Chad to the east.

The first cohort will comprise 26 officers taken from the army, the gendarmerie and the national guard who will go through nine months of training under national instructors, school commander Abdoul Razak Ben Ibrahim said.

Bazoum said his country, notably as a neighbour of troubled Libya, had to act on security needs given its position at the heart of a region prone to terrorist activity.

He further announced the creation of an air force academy at Agadez in the north of the country and a centre to instruct 5,000 cadets a year at Tahoua in the west from next year.

Bazoum also unveiled a three-year investment of 150 billion francs (229 million euros/$266 million) in the air force.

Niamey last year announced an intended doubling over five years of military numbers from 25,000 to 50,000 and raised the military retirement age to 52 from 47 as it battles jihadist attacks which began in 2015.

Niger receives support to that end from France and the United States in terms of logistics while both countries maintain bases there.

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