Niger’s Army Repels Boko Haram Attack, Says 16 Soldiers Killed

Hundreds of Boko Haram militants attacked a military post in southeastern Niger overnight, killing 16 soldiers and wounding nine more, the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

About 50 of the Islamist militants were killed in the resulting fighting in the West African country Diffa region, and significant amounts of weapons were recovered, the ministry said in a statement.

The late attack targeted the city of Baroua, where thousands of residents had just returned after taking refuge elsewhere after the 2015 jihadist massacres.

The Boko Haram insurgency broke out in northeastern Nigeria in 2009, but the violence often spreads to neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon in the Lake Chad basin.

In December, an attack attributed to Boko Haram killed 28 people and burned 800 houses in the Diffa region.

More than 6,000 people had returned to Baroua in late June as part of a program to encourage some 26,000 residents of the region to leave safer villages or UN camps and return home.

Authorities said they had tightened security to provide greater protection for returnees.

Niger, the poorest country in the world according to the UN Human Development Index (HDI), is facing jihadist attacks on two borders, and Islamist militants also carry out cross-border raids from neighboring Mali.

( Jowharwith REUTERS, AFP)

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