Sixteen Niger soldiers have been killed and another is missing after an ambush against a patrol in the Tahoua region near the Mali border, local officials said Sunday.
During the attack by “bandits” on Saturday the toll was “16 dead, six injured and one missing,” Tahoua department secretary general Ibrahim Miko said on public television.
He attended the funeral of Lieutenant Maman Namewa, commander of the patrol which was attacked.
The vast desert area of Tahoua in the west of the country sits close to the borders of both Mali and Burkina Faso and has been plagued by jihadist violence since 2012.
In March an attack by suspected jihadists on three villages near Niger’s border with Mali left a total of 141 people dead, according to the official toll.
They were the worst attacks committed by suspected jihadists in Niger in recent years.
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The world’s poorest nation according to the UN’s development rankings for 189 countries, Niger is also struggling with Islamist insurgencies that have spilled over from Mali and Nigeria.
The attacks in western Niger are often attributed to groups affiliated to the Al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups.
Such attacks against civilians have multiplied this year, with over 300 people killed in villages and encampments in western Niger.