Boko Haram militants kill over two dozen civilians in Niger

December 13, 2020

The attack was carried out in southeast Niger's Diffa region, local officials say.

Boko Haram extremists killed at least 27 people in an attack of "unprecedented savagery" in southeast Niger, local officials have said.

Other people were wounded and some more reported missing in the assault on Saturday evening in the village of Toumour in the Diffa region, said a senior local official on Sunday.

Witnesses and other officials confirmed the attack, which came hours before municipal and regional elections went ahead across the country on Sunday.

"Some victims were killed or wounded by bullets, others were burnt inside their houses, consumed by the flames of an enormous fire set by the attackers," said the official.

Between 800 and 1,000 houses, the central market and numerous vehicles were also destroyed in the fire, he added.

Roughly 70 attackers arrived at Toumour at around 1745 GMT on foot, having swum across Lake Chad, said the official. The attack itself lasted three hours.

"They first attacked the residence of the traditional chief, who only just managed to escape," he said.

"It was an attack of unprecedented savagery," said a local elected official who asked not to be named. "Nearly 60 percent of the village has been destroyed."

Thousands displaced

The terror group has had a presence in Nigeria since the early 2000s and has killed more than 20,000 people since 2009. It has carried out attacks in Cameroon, Chad and Niger since 2015.

The UN refugee agency said that violence in northwestern Nigeria had forced about 23,000 people to flee into Niger since April and raised concerns about the deteriorating security situation in that region.

The UN Refugee Agency and its partners are struggling to help an estimated 100,000 people driven from their homes in south-east Niger's Diffa region in attacks launched by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist group.

Diffa, a city of Niger located near the Nigerian border, has been under a state of emergency for the past five years since Boko Haram launched a military campaign in February 2015.