Niger: At least 137 killed in attack near Malian border
At least 137 Nigerien civilians were killed on Sunday in an attack on several localities near the Malian border, the Nigerien government said in a statement late Monday, Anadolu Agency reports.
"In the afternoon of Sunday March 21, 2021 at around 1 p.m. (1200GMT), the localities of Intazayane, Bakorat, Wirsnat and several other hamlets and camps located in the department of Tillia, Tahoua region, witnessed an attack perpetrated by armed bandits,” said the statement read on national TV by government spokesperson Abdourahamane Zakaria.
At least 137 people were killed and several others were injured, Zakaria said, adding that "reinforced security and health measures have been taken in the area and an investigation has been opened".
He also announced a three-day national mourning to pay tribute to the victims.
It is the second deadly attack on Nigerien civilians in a week. On March 15, unidentified gunmen attacked and killed at least 58 civilians returning from a weekly market in the Banibangou department, Tillaberi region, near the Malian border, according to Zakaria.
Niger's Tillaberi and Tahoua regions, bordering northern Mali, have been facing recurrent armed attacks since 2017 attributed to terrorist groups operating in northern Mali. As a result of these attacks, the entire Tillaberi region and part of Tahoua were placed under a state of emergency.
Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali in the Sahel are at the epicenter of one of the world's fastest-growing displacement and protection crises.
The region hosts 851,000 refugees and nearly 2 million displaced people, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
In January, around 100 people were killed in attacks in two Tillaberi villages after the first round of presidential elections.