Fourteen soldiers were killed Wednesday in an attack by « heavily armed terrorists » in the Tillabéri region in western Niger, the Nigerian Interior Ministry said on Thursday in a statement.
« A convoy made up of gendarmerie and national guard elements escorting electoral recruitment teams in the commune of Sanam (department of Abala) was ambushed by heavily armed terrorists », according to the press release.
« After a fierce battle, several people were killed and wounded. On the friend side: seven gendarmes and seven guards died. A guard is missing, ”the statement said.
« The enemy meanwhile has suffered many losses, » said the ministry, without specifying their extent.
It is in this same region of Tillabéri, near Mali, that 71 Nigerien soldiers were killed on December 10, the worst attack since the resumption of jihadist attacks in 2015 in this poor Sahelian country, claimed by the Islamic State.
According to the Home Office, the team of enlistment officers « was made safe and returned to Sanam in good health. »
This team operated on behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), which is to organize general elections (presidential and legislative) in late 2020.
The entire Sahel – in particular Mali, Niger and Burkina – is now the target of increasingly daring attacks by Islamist groups, despite the strengthening of local armies and the presence of 4,500 French soldiers of the anti-terrorist force barkhane.
Burkina Faso observed its second day of national mourning on Thursday after a jihadist attack that left 42 dead in the north of the country, the worst in five years.
Nigerian President Mahamadou Issoufou announced Sunday, during the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron, that the Sahel countries and France will launch “an appeal for international solidarity” during a summit in Pau (southwest of France) on January 13 devoted to the fight against jihadist groups.