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Benin Arrests Nigerien Citizens as Conflict Escalates

Tensions between Niger and Benin have intensified after Benin arrested five Nigerian nationals for allegedly entering the port of Seme illegally. The country claims that two of the detainees are agents of Niger’s ruling junta and had gained access to the facility via fake documents. Niger denied the allegations, tagging it a kidnapping. It countered that the arrested persons are staff of its oil company who were at the port to oversee an oil shipment. The port of Seme, crucial for Niger’s oil exports via a pipeline, has become a flashpoint in both countries’ relations. In May, Benin blocked Niger’s oil shipments through the port due to border trade issues, but the blockade was lifted after China intervened. The root cause of the conflict is Niger’s refusal to open its border to trade with Benin since it was closed after last year’s military takeover.