Around 100 people were killed by suspected militants attacking two villages in western Niger, the local mayor said Sunday, the latest in a string of civilian massacres that have rocked the jihadist-plagued Tillaberi region.
The attacks on the villages of Tchoma Bangou and Zaroumadareye on Saturday were waged by “terrorists who came riding about a hundred motorcycles”, said Almou Hassane, the mayor of the Tondikiwindi commune that administers both villages.
“There were up to 70 dead in Tchoma Bangou and 30 dead in Zaroumadareye,” he told AFP, adding he had just returned from the scene of the attacks.
The attacks took place as election officials announced results for the first round of Niger’s presidential vote that put ruling party candidate and former government minister Mohamed Bazoum in the clear lead, with a runoff set for next month.
The vast and unstable Tillaberi region is located in the so-called tri-border area, a jihadist-plagued zone where the porous borders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso converge.
Four thousand people across the three nations died in 2019 from jihadist violence and ethnic bloodshed stirred by Islamists, according to the UN.
Seven Nigerien soldiers were killed in an ambush in Tillaberi on December 21.
Niger is also being hammered by jihadists from Nigeria, the cradle of a decade-old insurgency launched by Boko Haram.
Last month 34 villagers were massacred in the southeastern region of Diffa, on the Nigerian border, the day before municipal and regional elections that had been repeatedly delayed because of poor security.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)