AFRICA/NIGER – “Women pray that the sun never goes down, because jihadists attack during the night”

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Niamey – “The women of the community pray that the sun, the light, remain as long as possible because now they are afraid of darkness”, says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Mauro Armanino, missionary of the Society of African Missions from Niger. “this is what Michel used to say, Fr. Pierluigi’s cook and handyman in Bomoanga”, recalls Fr. Mauro, referring to Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli, the SMA confrere kidnapped by jihadists in Bomoanga on the border with Burkina Faso, on the night between September 17 and 18, 2018, and released on October 8, 2020 in Mali.
Fr. Mauro points out that in the evening they kidnapped their spiritual guide and now when it was still night they blew up the pylon of the MOOV telephone company”. “It happened on the day of the Tabaski feast, last Tuesday, when it was still night. They dynamized the base of the metal antenna and destroyed the accessories that allowed the inhabitants of the area to communicate with each other and maintain contact with the outside world”. Fr. Mauro underlines that “despite the presence of a military base in the area, the jihadists have made two other telephone antennas unusable”. For about a month, both that of Tangounga and that of Tambole have met the same fate as that of Bomoanga.
Even the track that allowed the passage of people and goods between Bomoanga and Ngoula, a distance of 35 kilometers, is now made off-limits by the terrorist armed group itself, preventing farmers from going to the market. “And it is the latter that allows farmers to exchange their goods and therefore to survive in the time called ‘soudure’. This is the name of the transition season between the running out of the food stock in the granaries and the time of the new harvest. The blockade of markets increases the poverty of the poor”, says Fr. Mauro. “The Christians of the parish of Bomoanga pray in the courtyards of the houses and it is the animators, trained in recent years, who lead the prayer. Gathering in churches is dangerous because most communities have been threatened by doing so, resulting in killing or destruction of the village. Michel is grateful because in recent times no one has disappeared or been killed. He recognizes that living in that state of permanent tension has become difficult for health and morale. It is difficult to make plans other than waiting for everything to end one day. The women pray that the sun never goes away”, concludes Fr. Mauro.