Gunmen on motorcycles kill at least 58 in Niger

Gunmen on motorcycles kill at least 58 in Niger

The government said on Tuesday that gunmen on motorbikes attacked a group of civilians returning from the market in a volatile corner of Niger, killing at least 58 people and then burning grain stores to the ground. No one claimed responsibility for the massacres on Monday, although extremists affiliated with ISIS in the Greater Sahara are known to be active in the Tillaberi region, where villages were attacked.

The victims were returning home from a large livestock market in Banebango, near Niger’s troubled border with Mali. The suspected extremists also destroyed nearby granaries that held valuable food stores.

The announcement was read by government spokesman Abd al-Rahman Zakaria on Tuesday evening on Niger’s state television, which declared a three-day national mourning for the victims.

Monday’s attacks highlight the formidable security challenges facing Niger’s new president, Mohamed Bazoum, who won elections in late February to succeed outgoing leader Mohamedou Issoufou.

Not only are jihadists operating in the Tillaberi region, analysts say, but counterterrorism attacks against these extremists have helped spur ethnic militias. As a result, tribal tensions exacerbated, particularly near the border between Mali and Niger.

Monday’s attack echoed the January massacre that killed 100 people in two villages in the Tillaberi region, for which no extremist group or militia has claimed responsibility.

Extremists launch mass attacks on Niger’s army in the Tillaberi region, killing more than 70 people December 2019 And more than 89 in January 2020. It is near the area where Four US Special Forces soldiers were killed With five Nigerian colleagues in 2017.

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