Twelve soldiers have been killed in a Boko Haram attack on an extremist outpost in Niger’s Diffa region, scene of recent clashes with jihadist fighters, the defence ministry said on Tuesday.
The attack by ‘Boko Haram terrorists’ overnight on Monday on the Blabrine military base left another 10 soldiers wounded, the ministry said in a statement.
‘Seven terrorists were neutralised’ by Niger soldiers, the ministry said in the statement read out on public radio late Tuesday.
Earlier a local official said that the attack on the Blabrine base took place Monday at about 11:00pm.
A local elected official said that the attack by ‘gunmen, probably Boko Haram fighters’, had left ‘many dead’.
The Blabrine base is some 20 kilometres northeast of Diffa town in the remote south-eastern region near Lake Chad, where the borders of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria converge.
Diffa, a city of 200,000 near the Nigerian border, has been repeatedly attacked.
The region of the poor Sahel country borders Nigeria, the birthplace of Boko Haram.
It shelters some 300,000 refugees from Nigeria as well as internally displaced people, according to UN figures.
In October last year, 12 Niger troops were killed at Blabrine, according to the defence ministry.
Several violent clashes have pitted the army against Islamist fighters in the region since the start of May.
On May 13, Niamey said that 75 Boko Haram combatants had been killed in southeast Niger and across the border in Nigeria.
A propaganda video released by the Islamic State West Africa Province, a Boko Haram splinter group affiliated to the so-called Islamic State, purported to show heavily armed insurgents storm an army camp following sustained fighting and heavy weapons fire on May 3.
Jihadists carried out another attack in the same area on Saturday.
Boko Haram’s insurgency had claimed more than 36,000 lives since it began in north-eastern Nigeria in 2009 and displaced nearly two million from their homes.
Another jihadist group, the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, carries out frequent attacks in Niger’s west on its borders with Mali and Burkina Faso.
The countries around Lake Chad, together with Benin, had set up a combined group, the Multinational Joint Task Force, to fight the jihadists.
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