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Niger Tries 1,000 Boko Haram Combatants | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A wall painted by Boko Haram is pictured in Damasak March 24, 2015. REUTERS/Joe Penney

Niger has begun the trials of some 1,000 suspected fighters from the ultra-hardline Boko Haram group, officials said Friday.

Those to be tried are nationals from several countries including Niger and Mali, Samna said, as well as neighboring Nigeria where Boko Haram’s deadly insurgency began in 2009 before proliferating.

Chief prosecutor Chaibou Samna told AFP that the trials, on charges of terrorist links, had begun on March 2.

Samna said the trials will last several months and mostly arise from offences entailing “not more than 10 years in prison”.

“The government has provided the means to transport prosecutors to investigate on the ground” in the Diffa region, close to territory in northeast Nigeria that is the bastion of the armed terrorist movement, Samna said.

The government announced in December that it would speed up legal proceedings against suspected Boko Haram fighters in prison for over a year.

Boko Haram carried out its first attacks in Niger on February 6, 2015, but failed to establish a base in the African state.

At least 177 civilians in Diffa were killed between February 2015 and September 2016, according to a United Nations report.

The region has also taken in more than 300,000 refugees and displaced people.

Thousands of them subsist at the expense of the local population, which is already very poor, and the United Nations has repeatedly asked the international community to step up financial support.