Suspected jihadists kill 10 Niger soldiers: ministry

The defense ministry reported on Saturday that at least ten soldiers were killed in an ambush by some “armed terrorists” in southwest Niger, not far from the Mali border.

According to a ministry statement, 16 individuals are still missing and 13 soldiers were hurt in the attack on Friday, thus the death toll could go up.

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When the troops “came under a complicated ambush by a number of armed terrorists,” the report was referring to jihadist organizations, they were on patrol in the north of the Banibangou province.

The statement did not clarify how many assailants were slain, only that they were killed during the fighting.

The incident occurred in Tillaberi, a huge territory in western Niger that is bordered by the jihadist-invaded nations of Burkina Faso and Mali. Since 2017, armed groups with ties to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have frequently attacked Tillaberi.

The area is close to the Tahoua region, where last week, armed gunmen raided a camp sheltering migrants from nearby Mali.

That attack, which a local official claimed was carried out by “heavily armed terrorists” on motorcycles who escaped back into Mali, claimed nine lives.

The participating nations were all once French colonies.

The French foreign ministry condemned the incident on Saturday in the “strongest terms,” adding that it stood in “full solidarity” with the Nigerian government and people “in the battle against terrorism.”

According to the United Nations, Tahoua and Tillaberi are home to more than 61,000 Malian refugees.

Only 3,000 French soldiers will be stationed in the unrest-plagued Sahel region, where terrorist organizations are active, in Niger and Chad, following the withdrawal of French forces from Mali last year and the impending withdrawal from Burkina Faso.

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