Heavily Armed Jihadis On Motorbikes Massacre 137 In The West African Village Of Niger.
Massacre in Niger
Heavily Armed Jihadis on motorbikes raided several villages in southwestern Niger, slaughtering at least 137 people in the bloodiest violence to hit the country in years, the government said.
The gunmen on attacked the villages of Intazayene, Bakorat and Wistane, located near the border with Mali, on Sunday, March 21 shooting “at everything which moved”, according to a local official. A day later, on Monday, March 22, the government said the attacks had left 137 people dead. Local officials have previously reported a death toll of at least 66.
“In treating civilian populations systematically as targets now, these armed bandits have gone a step further into horror and brutality,” government spokesman Zakaria Abdourahamane said in a statement read on public television.
Niger, the world’s poorest nation according to the United Nations’ development rankings for 189 countries, is struggling with armed campaigns that have spilled over from Mali and Nigeria, killing hundreds of people and displacing nearly half a million others.
The three villages attacked on Sunday are located in the arid Tahoua region, abutting the Tillaberi border area, a hotspot of the conflict plaguing the western portion of the Sahel for much of the past 10 and is also fuelled by fighters linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS).
On March 15, fighters killed 66 people in the Tillaberi region, attacking a bus carrying shoppers from the market town of Banibangou, and then raided the village of Darey-Daye, killing inhabitants and torching grain stores. The same day, an attack claimed by ISIL in the so-called “tri-border area”, where the frontiers of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali converge, killed 33 Malian soldiers.
“After the Banibangou massacre, yesterday the terrorists, in the same barbaric way, struck the peaceful civilian populations of Intazayene and Bakorat,” Bazoum said in a Twitter post on Monday, offering “heartfelt condolences to the victims’ relatives”.
Bazoum, elected on February 21, is a former interior minister who was the preferred successor and right-hand man of the outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou.
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