Europeans are fleeing Niger through the Diori Hamani International Airport in Niamey (AFP via Getty Images)

France begins evacuating citizens from Niger coup after neighbouring nations warn of war

Europeans are fleeing Niger through the Diori Hamani International Airport in Niamey (AFP via Getty Images)

France began the evacuation of hundreds of European citizens from Niger on Tuesday, a day after neighbours Mali and Burkina Faso said any outside intervention to restore the ousted government would be seen as a declaration of war.

A military junta overthrew Niger’s democratically-elected President Mohamed Bazoum and his government last week in the seventh military takeover in less than three years in west and central Africa.

The coup has sent shockwaves across the Sahel region, one of the poorest and most unstable in the world, where Niger was considered the West’s most stable ally in the fight against a fast-growing Islamist insurgency.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS has threatened to use force to reinstate Bazoum, while neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso – also ruled by military juntas – said they would come to the Niger coup leaders’ defence.

With the risk of conflict escalating, Spain said it was preparing to evacuate more than 70 citizens by air and Italy said it would organise a repatriation flight. Germany urged its citizens to join the French flights.

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