The number of deaths in attacks on villages in Niger on the rise

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The number of deaths in attacks on villages in Niger on the rise


The Nigerien prime minister said 100 people have now been killed in Saturday's attacks by suspected jihadists on two villages.

Brigi Rafini said 70 people were killed in the village of Tchombangou and 30 others in Zaroumdareye - both near the border between Niger and Mali.

It was one of the deadliest days in living memory as Niger grapples with ethnic violence and Islamist militancy.

No group said they carried out the attacks.

According to local mayor Almou Hassane, officials traveled on "a hundred motorcycles", reports the AFP news agency.

They split into two groups and carried out the attacks simultaneously.

Former minister Issoufou Issaka told AFP that the jihadists launched the assaults after villagers killed two members of their group, although this has not been officially confirmed.

Mayor Hassane said 75 other villagers were injured in the process and some were evacuated for treatment in Ouallam and in the capital, Niamey.

Prime Minister Rafini visited the two villages on Sunday.

“This situation is just horrible… but investigations will be carried out so that this crime does not go unpunished,” he told reporters.

The Tillabéri region in Niger is located in the so-called three borders area between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, which has been plagued by jihadist attacks for many years.

Nigers Prime Minister Brigi RafiniCOPYRIGHT OF IMAGEREUTERS
legendNigerien Prime Minister Brigi Rafini visited the two villages on Sunday

Last month, seven Nigerien soldiers were killed in an ambush in the region.

Areas of Niger are also facing repeated attacks from jihadists in neighboring Nigeria, where the government is leading a Boko Haram insurgency.

As part of efforts to quell violence, France is leading a coalition of West African and European allies against Islamist militants in the Sahel.

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Coalition forces have become targets and last week five French soldiers were killed in two separate incidents in Mali.

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The latest attacks in Tillabéri also come amid national elections in Niger, as President Mahamadou Issoufou resigns after two five-year terms.

Election officials on Saturday announced provisional results, showing a lead for Mohamed Bazoum - a former minister and member of Niger's ruling party.

A second round of voting is expected to take place on February 21, once the ballots have been validated by the country's constitutional court.

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