Gunmen kill 11 soldiers in southwest Niger

Unidentified gunmen killed 11 soldiers defending a village in a remote part of southwest Niger where Islamist militants operate, the defence ministry said on Friday.

The heavily armed attackers approached in a convoy of cars and motorbikes on Thursday afternoon, clashing with soldiers stationed outside the village of Dagne near the border with Mali, it said in a statement.

The attack was repulsed, but 11 soldiers were killed and nine are missing.

No group has claimed responsibility for the assault. A local affiliate of Islamic State has killed hundreds of civilians in a series of attacks in the same area this year despite government efforts to regain control.

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Thursday’s raid came two days after 69 people were killed in another area near the Malian border about 100 miles (160 km) away.

Armed groups have stepped up attacks in a poverty-stricken, arid zone of West Africa encompassing the borderlands of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso in recent years.

Some linked with al Qaeda and Islamic State have sought to seize control of communities and drive out local and international military forces. Thousands of civilians have died and millions have fled.

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