Dozens of civilians killed in Niger gun assaults | Niger Information

Interior Minister Alkache Alhada said the attack took place in the villages of Tchombangou and Zaroumdareye, near the border with Mali.

Armed men have killed dozens of civilians and injured several more in attacks on two villages in western Niger near the Mali border, according to a senior official.

Interior Minister Alkache Alhada told the DPA news agency that the attacks took place on Saturday in the villages of Tchombangou and Zaroumdareye in the Mangaize region.

At least 56 civilians were killed and 20 others injured, without giving the exact number of victims in each village.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attacks.

A local journalist told AFP news agency that 50 people were killed in Tchombangou, while Reuters, citing a security source, said at least 49 were killed and 17 were wounded in the same village.

Another 30 were killed in Zaroumdareye, Reuters reported, citing a second security source.

Ahmed Idris of Al Jazeera, who reported from the Nigerian capital Niamey, said: “The belief here is that the attackers from Mali have crossed the border.

“This is one of the most porous areas in Niger. The border with Burkina Faso is also permeable and has been attacked by armed groups loyal to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIL, ISIS). And on the border with Nigeria we have seen increased activity with attacks by Boko Haram targeting not only civilians but also military personnel. “

The violence came the same day Niger announced the results of the first round of a presidential election.

Former Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum of the ruling Nigerian Democracy and Socialism Party led the vote with 39 percent of the vote. He will now run in a runoff election on February 20 against former President Mahamane Ousmane, who received 17 percent of the vote.

The area where the attacks took place on Saturday, Mangaize, is in Tillaberi, a vast and unstable region where the borders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso converge.

Fighters with ties to Al Qaeda and the armed group ISIL (ISIS) have carried out increasing attacks in the West African Sahel in recent years, despite the presence of thousands of regional and foreign troops.

The violence hit Mali and Burkina Faso the hardest, but it also reached western Niger. According to the United Nations, at least 4,000 people in the three nations died in 2019 in violence related to armed groups.

On December 21, seven Nigerian soldiers were killed in an ambush in Tillaberi, while 34 villagers were massacred in the southeastern Diffa region on the Nigerian border last month.

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