NIAMEY, NIGER – Gunmen killed a significant number of civilians Saturday in Niger, authorities said, in the latest attack to rock the landlocked Sahel nation’s troubled western Tillaberi region.
“The attack took place around noon (1100 GMT) and there were deaths,” a senior regional official told AFP, without giving an exact toll or further details of the attack.
A local official said “many civilians were killed” in the attack on Tchomo-Bangou, a village near the Mali border, but did not give details.
“The attackers came to surround the village and killed up to 50 people. The wounded were taken to Ouallam hospital,” a local radio station journalist said on condition of anonymity.
The attack came on the same day election officials announced results for the first round of Niger’s presidential vote that put ruling party candidate and former government minister Mohamed Bazoum in the clear lead, with a runoff set for next month.
The vast and unstable Tillaberi region is in the so-called tri-border area, a jihadi-plagued zone where the porous borders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso converge.
About 4,000 people across the three nations died in 2019 in violence and ethnic bloodshed stirred by Islamists, according to the U.N.
Seven Nigerien soldiers were killed in an ambush in Tillaberi on December 21.
Travel by motorbike has been banned in Tillaberi since January in a bid to prevent incursions by highly mobile fighters.
A landlocked state in the heart of the Sahel, Niger is also being hammered by jihadis from Nigeria, the cradle of a decade-old insurgency launched by Boko Haram.
Last month, 34 villagers were massacred in the southeastern region of Diffa, on the Nigerian border, the day before municipal and regional elections that had been repeatedly delayed because of poor security.
Source: Voice of America