Tongo Tongo

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Tongo Tongo
village
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Tongo Tongo
Location of Tongo Tongo
Coordinates: 15°3′11.56″N1°50′7.85″E / 15.0532111°N 1.8355139°E / 15.0532111; 1.8355139 Coordinates: 15°3′11.56″N1°50′7.85″E / 15.0532111°N 1.8355139°E / 15.0532111; 1.8355139
CountryFlag of Niger.svg  Niger
Region Tillabéri
Department Ouallam
Rural commune Tondikiwindi
Government
  MayorAlmou Hassane [1]
Elevation
[2]
317 m (1,040 ft)
Population
 (2012)
  Total111,490 [3]
 (for the whole of Tondikwindi Commune)
Time zone UTC+1

Tongo Tongo (French pronunciation:  [tɔ̃ɡo tɔ̃ɡo] ) is a village in the rural commune (municipality) of Tondikiwindi (also Tondi Kiwindi), Ouallam Department, Tillabéri Region in southwestern Niger, 174 km north of the nation's capital Niamey and 28 km south of the border with Mali. [4] The village has about 160-170 huts/dwellings, irregularly clustered. There are no roads, just trails that connect to nearby villages such as Siwili, Firo, Sabara Bangou, Sinka Koira, Gollo, Gouré Tonndi, Kokorobé Koukou and Zerma Daré. The population of the commune consists for 99% of the Zarma people (also called Djerma). Most of them own cattle, sheep, goats and dromedaries, renting them out to the Fulani people or Tuareg people for tending. Though arable land is rare and poor, there is also some agriculture, mostly millet and sorghum. The area is part of the Sahel and consists of a vast expanse of plateaux and hills. The physical environment is in an advanced state of degradation caused by habitat destruction, poaching, and by the viccisitudes of the local climate. [5]
Tongo Tongo should not be confused with the village Tongo-Tongo in neighbouring Mali.

Contents

Armed conflict

In March 2017 the Nigerien government declared a state of emergency in the Ouallam Department [6] (and thus in Tongo Tongo) because of the spill-over from the war in nearby Mali, where large areas are under the control of jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda. As of fall 2017, many western nations advise against all travel in the Ouallam Department. [7] The U.S. military has been operating in that area with local forces to help them fight terrorism and to disrupt the militants' movements.

On 4 October 2017 a 11-man team of U.S. soldiers from the Army's 3rd Special Forces Group was operating with approximately 35 Forces Armees Nigeriennes (FAN) on a train and advise mission near Tongo Tongo. Militants, both Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and ISIS, had been using a nearby route to travel back and forth into Mali and back to a base camp in Niger and traffic in black market merchandise. The Nigerien forces were working to disrupt this so-called rat line and interdict the militants. While scouting the route, the group came under attack from more than 50 enemy fighters, riding in a dozen vehicles and on about 20 motorcycles, firing from numerous directions with small arms. Four Army Special Forces soldiers, five Nigerien soldiers and at least 21 ISGS militants were killed in the ambush. A further eight Nigerien and two US soldiers were wounded. Initially the US acknowledged only three killed, as the fourth soldier initially was missing; his body was found two days later at the location of the incident. US Africa Command communicated that the soldiers killed were Staff Sergeants Bryan Black (35) of Puyallup, Washington, Jeremiah Johnson (39) of Springboro, Ohio, Dustin Wright (29) of Lyons, Georgia, and Sgt. La David Johnson (25) of Miami Gardens, Florida. [8]

No group has taken responsibility for the killings, although officials commented that the US suspected a local branch of Islamic State was responsible, but without publicly naming any group. At the time and location of the ambush threats were deemed unlikely, so there was no overhead armed air cover during the engagement. US Africa Command acknowledged the loss of elite US forces would trigger a review of how the US military carries out operations but did not suggest any move to scale back the American mission in Niger. [9] [10] [11] [12]

On December 27 2018 the French Air Force assisted by Nigerien ground forces conducted a raid near the village killing 15 terrorists and destroying 20 motorcycles.

Climate

Tongo Tongo has a desert climate. From October to April there is virtually no rainfall. According to Köppen and Geiger, this climate is classified as BWh. The average annual temperature is 29.4 °C. Average annual precipitation is about 250 mm; most of it falls in August, about 104 mm. May is the warmest month of the year; with a 24h temperature average of 33.9 °C and a daily average maximum of almost 41 °C. January is the coldest month, on average 23.9 °C. [13]

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The village has about 70-75 huts/dwellings, irregularly clustered. There are no roads, just trails that connect to nearby villages such as Soufaré, Tiloa, Diéno Koara, Tongo Tongo, Sinka Koira, Gollo, Gouré Tondi and Kokorobé Koukou .
The population of the commune consists for 99% of the Zarma people. Most of them own cattle, sheep, goats and dromedaries, renting them out to the Fulani people or Tuareg people for tending. Though arable land is rare and poor, there is also some agriculture, mostly millet and sorghum. The area is part of the Sahel and consists of a vast expanse of plateaux and hills. The physical environment is in an advanced state of degradation caused by habitat destruction, poaching, and by the viccisitudes of the local climate.

Tongo Tongo ambush 2017 attack on American and Nigerien soldiers in Niger by armed Islamic State militants

The Tongo Tongo ambush or the Niger ambush occurred on 4 October 2017, when armed militants from the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) attacked Nigerien and US soldiers outside the village of Tongo Tongo, Niger while they were returning to base after a stop in the village. During the ambush, five Nigeriens, four US soldiers, and at least 21 ISGS militants were killed and eight Nigeriens and two US soldiers including the team commander were wounded. In the day preceding the ambush, the Nigerien and US soldiers conducted a mission attempting to locate and capture or kill Doundou Chefou, a commander in the ISGS.

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On 9 January 2020, a large group of ISWAP militants assaulted a Nigerien military base at Chinagodrar in Niger's Tillabéri Region. They attacked an army post in Chinagodrar, in the west of the country, in Tillabéri Region, eight miles from the border with Mali, 130 miles north of Niamey. At least 89 Nigerien soldiers were confirmed to have been killed in the attack with more casualties suspected, but yet to be confirmed. 77 militants were claimed by the Nigerien government to have been killed.

References

  1. Fall, Idriss; Koura, Bagassi (23 October 2017). "Villagers Suspected of Luring US Soldiers into Niger Ambush". Voice of America.
  2. See: Geonames.org
  3. See: Site web de la Direction Générale de la Décentralisation et des Collectivités Territoriales; Région de Tillaberi, Subdivisions administratives.
  4. Distances as the crow flies, measured with Freemaptools.com
  5. Profil des moyens d’existence des ménages. Commune de Tondikiwindi – Département de Ouallam, Région de Tillaberi, Niger, April 2012.
  6. See: L’Etat d’urgence désormais dans trois régions du Niger, Agence Nigérienne de Presse, March 4, 2017. Accessed on 5 October 2017.
  7. See eg. the UK travel advice. Accessed on 9 October 2017.
  8. "Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson | Military Times". thefallen.militarytimes.com. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  9. Pentagon says fourth U.S. soldier killed in Niger ambush, Reuters, 6 October 2017. Accessed on 9 October 2017.
  10. Fourth US soldier killed in ambush in Niger, SkyNews, 7 October 2017. Accessed on 9 October 2017.
  11. U.S. Soldier Missing in Niger Is Found Dead, NBC News, 6 October 2017. Accessed on 9 October 2017.
  12. U.S., Nigerien troops killed in ambush on patrol in Niger, Reuters, 5 October 2017. Accessed on 9 October 2017.
  13. See: Climate-data.org