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Full veil banned in key Niger region

30 July 2015, 08:05

Niamey - Authorities in Niger's Diffa area, on the border with Nigeria, have banned the full Islamic veil following suicide attacks in countries in the region by women wearing the religious garment, an official said on Wednesday.

"Women in the region are forbidden from wearing the full veil until further notice, in order to prevent suicide attacks by Boko Haram," Diffa mayor Hankouraou Biri-Kassoum told AFP.

The full veil has been banned in several regions of Cameroon after a string of bombings by women and girls, including attackers wearing the garment.

"It's better to prevent danger," a security source told AFP, adding that "a growing number of women and young girls are wearing the full veil in Diffa."

A night-time curfew has been imposed, while February's ban on motorcycles - the jihadists' vehicle of choice - has been extended, the mayor said.

Niger has joined a regional campaign alongside Chad, Niger and Nigeria to battle Boko Haram, whose insurgency has killed at least 15 000 people since 2009 in the name of founding an Islamic caliphate.

While regional efforts have scored a number of victories in recent months, the militants have unleashed a massive wave of violence since Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in in May.

Dozens have been killed in a string of bombings and raids across the region.

On July 12, the Islamists raided Diffa prison in a likely bid to free detained members, killing a guard, according to local authorities.

Six days later, Boko Haram militants killed 16 civilians in an attack on a southeastern Niger village.

In June, 38 civilians were killed - including 10 children - in a Boko Haram attack targeting two villages close to Diffa.

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