West African state authorities are struggling to secure arms stores in the region, a report released on Monday suggested.
This is because a significant proportion of weapons and arms seized from Islamist insurgents in Niger were found to have come came from stockpiles in the region, Conflict Armament Research (CAR), the group that published the report, said.
CAR said it had identified 165 weapons and 6,243 pieces of ammunition in October 2019 that authorities had recovered from Islamist fighters in Diffa, southeast Niger.
Chad, Nigeria and Niger accounted for the origin of about 17% of the weapons while 23% of ammunition originated from stockpiles in Nigeria, the report said.
According to the report, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and their allies in West Africa may overlap or use the same supply mechanisms because some of the weapons had similarities to ones recovered.
It however said there was no suggestion that any government was sending weapons to militants.
Instead, the findings showed that “maintaining custody of military material represents a challenge for the region’s national security forces, particularly those engaged in active military and counterterrorism operations,” CAR added.
About half the weapons studied were either manufactured in African countries or originated from stocks that had been exported to a country in northern or western Africa, the report said
Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) militants and other groups with strongholds in the Lake Chad region (Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria) have launched repeated cross border raids since 2015.