Max Air aircraft trapped in Niamey over military coup

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A Boeing 747-400 aircraft belonging to Max Air on an Hajj flight to Niamey, Niger Republic, is stranded in the city’s airport due to the ongoing military coup in the country.

The aircraft was said to have landed in Niamey at 2140z (2240 local time) with 360 Nigerian pilgrims onboard.

Captain Maitama Kabo was in command of the 18 crew onboard.

President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger has been removed from power; a group of soldiers who appeared on the West African nation’s national television late Wednesday night, hours after the president was held in the presidential palace, stated this.

Reading from a statement, Colonel Amadou Abdramane, seated and flanked by nine other officers, said defence and security forces had decided to put an end to the regime that you know due to the deteriorating security situation and bad governance.

According to Reuters, the soldiers said Niger’s borders are closed, a nationwide curfew has been declared, and all republic institutions are suspended.

The soldiers warned against foreign intervention, adding that they would respect Bazoum’s well-being.

The military takeover, which marks the seventh coup in the West and Central Africa region since 2020, could further complicate Western efforts to help countries in the Sahel region fight a jihadist insurgency that has spread from Mali over the past decade.

Land-locked Niger, a former French colony, has become a pivotal ally for Western powers seeking to help fight the insurgencies. Still, they are facing growing acrimony from the new juntas in charge in Mali and Burkina Faso.

Niger is also a key ally of the European Union in the fight against irregular migration from sub-Saharan Africa.

France moved troops to Niger from Mali last year after its relations with interim authorities there soured. It has also withdrawn special forces from Burkina Faso amid similar tensions.

Bazoum’s election was the first democratic transition of power in a state that has witnessed four military coups since independence from France in 1960.