A jihadist attack in Niger’s volatile “triple border” area with Burkina Faso and Mali has killed dozens of members of a self-defense militia, local sources told AFP on Thursday.
The assault took place on Tuesday in Adab-Dab, a village about 55 kilometers (32 miles) from Banibangou in the western Tillaberi region, a source said.
A defense force on a motorcycle was attacked by “heavily armed members of the ISGS (Islamic State in the Greater Sahara”) who were also traveling on motorcycles, the source said.
“In total there are about 60 dead, nine missing and 15 escaped. The mayor of Banibangou is among the dead and his body has been recovered,” said a parliamentarian in the western area of Tillaberi.
A security source said the attack occurred “on Tuesday around 9:30 am” (0830 GMT).
Another local source confirmed the death toll and said the target of the attack was a local anti-Jihadist defense force called Vigilance Committees, headed by the mayor of Banibangou district.
The attackers headed back to Mali “taking the bodies of their fighters,” the source said.
The defense force had recently been established by the local population following a series of attacks on agricultural workers in remote fields by highly mobile jihadists, a former mayor said.
Niger, the poorest country in the world according to the UN Human Development Index (HDI), faces jihadist insurgencies both on its western border with Mali and on its southeastern border with Nigeria.
The western insurgency began with raids in 2015. The bloodshed intensified in 2017, with massacres perpetrated by groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State.