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4 Nov, 2021 19:43

60 reported dead after attack on villagers in southwestern Niger

60 reported dead after attack on villagers in southwestern Niger

At least 60 people are reported to have been killed in what appears to have been an attack by jihadists affiliated with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in a remote area in the southwest of the country.

The incident occurred earlier this week in a remote region bordering Burkina Faso and Mali, but the news apparently emerged only recently. “Heavily armed” members of a local IS affiliate had attacked a local defense force known as the Vigilance Committees, news agencies reported on Thursday, citing Niger officials.

The group had been led by the mayor of the village of Banibangou, who is among the 60 dead. Nine people are still missing and 15 escaped the massacre, a local politician told AFP.

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Zakari Karidjo, the deputy of the Banibangou county administration, described the incident as a “clash,” and said both sides had suffered losses. Marsadou Soumaila, an official in the neighboring county of Ouallam, confirmed the mayor’s death to Reuters.

Some reports say the attack occurred near Banibangou village, while others state that it was near the village of Adab-Dab, some 55km (32 miles) away. An AFP source said the militants had returned to Mali, where they had come from, taking the bodies of the dead IS fighters with them.

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No group has so far claimed responsibility for the incident. The region is one of the hotspots in the years-long violent conflict between the West African Sahel nations – assisted by foreign powers, including France – and a host of extremist groups, including Al-Qaeda and IS affiliates seeking a local foothold.

Extremists frequently launch attacks on local villages and, not including the victims of this week’s attack, have killed more than 530 people in southwest Niger this year alone, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a group that tracks political violence.

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