At least 69 killed in Niger gun attack – Saudi Gazette


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NIAMEY — Niger has declared two days of national mourning from Friday, after at least 69 people were killed in an attack by insurgents, BBC reported.

Suspected Islamic extremists ambushed a self-defense brigade in western Niger, killing 69 people in the latest attack in the volatile border region near Mali, the country’s Interior Ministry said.

The violence took place earlier this week near Banibangou, some 155 miles (250 kilometers) north of the capital, Niamey, the ministry said in a statement Thursday.

The area is overrun by militants associated with a local affiliate of the so-called Islamic State group.

More than 500 people have been killed in insurgent violence this year in the country's south-west.

The town's mayor was among those killed in the attack and 15 other members of the village defense group were wounded in the ambush, the statement said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bloodshed, which took place on Tuesday.

The assailants fled across the border into Mali, reportedly taking their own dead away with them.

The local self-defense groups have been helping Niger's military to fight extremists who have stepped up attacks on civilians this year blamed on Islamic State-linked militants.

The resurgence of extremist violence began with a January attack on two villages that killed at least 100 people. The following month 237 more were killed in a series of attacks at the hands of armed gunmen riding motorcycles.

The mounting violence poses a strong threat to Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum, who was sworn into office in April only days after security forces thwarted an attempted military coup at the presidential palace. — Agencies

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