The jihadist attack on a Nigerien army camp in Inates, near the border with Mali, left 71 dead and missing Tuesday, according to a defense ministry read on national television.
« Unfortunately, we deplore the following toll: 71 soldiers killed, 12 wounded, missing, and a significant number of terrorists neutralized », according to the text.
This assessment is the heaviest suffered by the Nigerian army since the beginning of the jihadist attacks in the country, in 2015.
A previous record of security source reported « more than 60 deaths ».
« On December 10, the detachment of the Inates military reconnaissance post near the border with Mali was attacked by heavily armed terrorists estimated at several hundred, » the statement said.
« The fighting », which lasted three hours, was « of rare violence combining artillery fire and the use of suicide bombers by the enemy ».
« Reinforcements dispatched to the position have made it possible to stabilize the situation which is currently under control », according to the Defense Ministry, which ensures that a « prosecution has been launched » and that the attackers are « on the run outside our borders » .
“The President of the Republic, supreme head of the armed forces, Issoufou Mahamadou, interrupted his participation in the Conference on Sustainable Peace, Security and Development in Africa which is being held in Egypt, to return to Niamey following the drama that occurred at # Inates ”, said the Presidency on twitter.
Continued state of emergency
Tuesday, the council of ministers had extended for a period of three months the state of emergency decreed since 2017 in several departments to fight against jihadist attacks.
This measure gives additional powers to security forces in theaters of operations, including the ability to order night and day searches in a home. In addition, it limits movement in the areas concerned.
The north of the Tahoua region and the neighboring region of Tillabéri are the target of more and more frequent attacks by jihadists from nearby Mali.
Since October, humanitarian organizations have been banned from visiting certain areas without military escort.
The jihadists are multiplying deadly actions in the Sahel – particularly Mali, Niger and Burkina – despite the presence of French soldiers from the Barkhane anti-terrorist force.