At least 50 people were killed by gunmen in southwestern Niger, the government said

Gunmen in southwestern Niger killed at least 58 people while listening to a convoy returning from a weekly market and attacking a nearby village, the government said.

The attack on Monday occurred in the Tillabery region, which is close to the border with Mali and Burkina Faso and has seen increasingly deadly attacks by Islamist militants active throughout the region with links to the Islamic State and al Qaeda.

Suspected militants killed at least 100 civilians on January 2 in raids on two villages in Tillabery, one of the deadliest episodes in the country’s recent history.

The attackers this time intercepted four vehicles transporting passengers from a weekly market to the villages of Chinagoder and Darey Dey, the government said in a statement on Tuesday.

“These individuals then continued tough and cruel to carry out targeted executions of passengers,” it said. “In the village of Darey Dey, they killed people and burned the grain magazines.”

The violence is part of a broader security crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa. Many of the militant attacks are concentrated where the borders between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso meet, a zone that a 5,000-strong anti-militant working group has focused heavily on.

Niger and its neighbors have also experienced murderous killings between rival ethnic communities, due to militant violence and competition for scarce resources.

(REUTERS)