Militants kill 58 in separate attacks in Niger

Unidentified armed "bandits" in Niger have staged several attacks in the restive region of Tillaberi, killing dozens of people, inflicting damage, and stealing vehicles, the government says.

“The toll from these barbarous acts (is) 58 dead, one injured, a number of grain silos and two vehicles burned, and two more vehicles seized,” the government said in a statement read out on public television on Tuesday.

The attacks took place on a bus coming from the Banibangou market and nearby villages located in the “tri-border area” — a flashpoint zone where the frontiers of Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali converge — on Monday.

The government, which announced three days of national mourning for the deaths, called for “greater vigilance” on behalf of the local population in the area.

The tri-border area is one of the most volatile places in the Sahel region. Earlier this year, 100 people were killed in attacks on two villages in Tillaberi.

Niger is also the target of attacks by militants from Nigeria, where a decade-old militancy by the Boko Haram terrorist group has been ongoing.

Thirty four villagers were massacred in the southeastern region of Diffa, on the Nigerian border, in December 2020.

More than 30,000 people have been killed and nearly three million displaced in a decade of Boko Haram violence in West Africa, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Militants ambush soldiers in Mali

Separately, 11 Malian soldiers were killed and 11 more went missing after militants staged an ambush on a military patrol in Gao in northern Mali on Monday.

The Malian army said on Tuesday that 14 soldiers had also been wounded in the ambush and that eight of them were in serious condition.

It said that seven militants were also killed in the attack.

Last year was Mali’s deadliest on record due to militant attacks, tit-for-tat violence between rival ethnic groups, and killings by security forces, according to data compiled by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).

France has deployed its military to the Sahel region with a declared objective of suppressing the militancy.

Last month, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, who faces an upcoming election, ruled out any immediate decrease in the number of the French troops deployed to the restive region.

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