IS claims responsibility for attack on Niger military camp

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Still picture shows Islamic State in West Africa fighters
Still picture shows Islamic State in West Africa fighters

Islamic State claimed responsibility on Thursday for an attack on a military camp in Niger near the border with Mali on Tuesday, according to a statement issued by a branch of the militant group in the region.

Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) said the attack killed at least 100 soldiers and injured many others, while a Niger army spokesman said on Wednesday that 71 soldiers were killed.

Jihadists with links to Islamic State and al Qaeda have mounted increasingly lethal attacks across West Africa’s Sahel region this year despite thousands of regional and foreign troops being sent to counter them.

Militants on Wednesday killed at least 71 soldiers in an attack on a military base in western Niger – the deadliest in several years.

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Twelve soldiers were also injured in the attack in Inates, the army says.

No group has yet said it was behind the killings.

But militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group (IS) have staged attacks in the Sahel region this year despite the presence of thousands of regional and foreign troops.

Security analysts say the insurgency in Niger is escalating at an alarming rate.

Defence Minister Issoufou Katambe told the BBC “a large number of terrorists” had been “neutralised” during the attack, which happened on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Katambe said there had been “a fierce battle” with “several hundred” militants in Inates, not far from the border with Mali.

Local media also reported another attack on an army camp in Tahoua on Monday.

In October 2017, four US soldiers and five Nigerien soldiers were killed in a jihadist ambush in Tongo Tongo, a village near the Mali frontier, not far from the site of Tuesday’s attack.

The Inates camp, near the border with Mali, was also attacked in July when 18 soldiers died.