At least 25 gunmen killed in southwest Niger

At least 25 gunmen killed in southwest Niger

Unidentified gunmen have killed at least 25 people in southwest Niger, officials said on Wednesday, the latest in a string of deadly raids along the country’s border with Mali.

Atawane Abetane, the mayor of the nearby town of Tilia, said attackers on motorcycles stormed the camp of a local self-defense militia near Bakort village in the Tahoua region on Tuesday.

Abiten said the fighting went on for several hours before Nigerian security forces arrived and dispersed the attackers. A security official said only one defense militia survived.

“These are terrorists who came from outside, and there were many of them,” Abetane said. “There were deaths among the terrorists, and motorcycles were also burnt.”

No group has claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack. A local ally of Islamic State has killed hundreds of people in rural communities near the Malian border this year.

In March, 137 people were killed in a raid in Bakorat and surrounding villages, one of the deadliest days in Niger’s recent history. Local officials blamed the Islamic State in Greater Sahara for that attack.

In the absence of a permanent military presence, some villages and towns have taken up arms to defend themselves, though security analysts fear it could spark violence.

The attack is part of a wider wave of violence that has spread since 2017 in the Sahel region of West Africa, a band of arid terrain south of the Sahara Desert.

Some of the deadliest attacks are concentrated in the border region of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. Thousands of civilians have died in the region, and millions have been displaced.

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