At least 23 Niger soldiers killed in ambush, defence ministry says

By Thomson Reuters Mar 22, 2024 | 4:16 AM

NIAMEY (Reuters) – Militants killed at least 23 Nigerien soldiers and wounded 17 more during an attack on a military unit in the northwestern corner of the country on Wednesday, the defence ministry said.

More than 100 armed men on motorbikes and in vehicles used improvised explosive devices and suicide bombs to ambush the military unit as it was making its way back from an operation in the insurgency-hit Tillaberi region.

The attack took place between the communes of Teguey and Bankilare, the ministry said in a statement late on Thursday. Around 30 attackers were killed, it added.

Niger is one of several West African countries battling an Islamist insurgency that has spread outwards from Mali over the past 12 years, killing thousands and uprooting millions of people.

Frustrations over authorities’ failure to protect civilians has spurred military coups in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger since 2020.

The juntas that seized power have cut ties with Western allies assisting local military efforts, kicking out French and other European forces and turning to Russia instead.

Niger’s junta last week revoked with immediate effect a military accord that allows military personnel and civilian staff from the U.S. Department of Defense on its soil.

(Reporting by Moussa Aksar; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Nellie Peyton and Alex Richardson)