18 killed in Niger militant attack

Eighteen civilians were killed when their transport vehicle came under attack in a part of western Niger frequently targeted by Islamist militants, the government said on Tuesday.

Interior Minister, Alkassoum Indatou, attributed Sunday’s attack in the Tillaberi region, near the border with Mali, to “armed bandits aboard several motorcycles, who have not yet been identified.”

He said in a statement that 13 of the victims were from the village of Foney Ganda and five from the village of Tizegorou.

Local officials have blamed a series of massacres of civilians since last year on Islamic State’s affiliate in West Africa, which along with al Qaeda-linked militants have been responsible for spiraling violence across the Sahalian countries of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.

The civilians were killed in a militant attack in the west of the country when armed bandits on motorbikes attacked a truck transporting people between two villages in the Tillaberi region.

Western Niger – like neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso – has for years faced militant attacks despite the efforts of international forces deployed to the wider Sahel region to fight the Islamist insurgents.

Both Niger’s neighbours now have military governments after army chiefs ousted civilian administrations, saying they had failed to tackle insurgencies. -Reuters

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