'Terrorist attack' kills 15 soldiers in Niger: army
Fifteen soldiers were killed and 19 wounded in a attack by "terrorist elements" in western Niger, authorities said Thursday.
"A Niger army patrol was attacked by terrorist elements at 1500 GMT north of Tilwa (on Wednesday). We have 15 dead and 19 wounded in our ranks," said Colonel Toure Seydou Albdoula Aziz, the army spokesman.
"Clean-up operations have been launched in the sector to neutralise the fleeing terrorists," he said, without divulging the number of attackers or their affiliation.
Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou extended his sincere condolences to the families of victims in a tweet.
The Nigeria-based Boko Haram Islamist group has waged a seven-year uprising that has claimed more than 20,000 lives, with the insurgency spilling over the West African nation's borders into neighbouring states, including Niger.
The violence has left around 2.6 million people homeless, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis, with the United Nations warning the affected region faces the "largest crisis in Africa".
Three Niger soldiers were killed and seven wounded on the night of New Year's Eve when Boko Haram fighters attacked their position at Baroua, in Niger's Diffa region, near the border with Nigeria.