Nearly 23 years of terrorizing Nigeria and its neighbouring countries, the Boko Haram group have struck again in Niger. According to Niger’s defence ministry, hundreds of Boko Haram fighters attacked a military post in southern Niger, killing 16 soldiers and wounding 9 more.
About 50 Boko Haram attackers were killed in the resulting combat in the West African country’s Diffa region and significant quantities of weapons were recovered, the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
The attack late on Tuesday targeted the town of Baroua, where thousands of residents had only just returned after taking refuge elsewhere following rebel massacres in 2015.
More than 6,000 people had returned to Baroua in late June under a programme to encourage roughly 26,000 inhabitants in the region to leave safer villages or UN camps and go back to their homes.
Authorities have now pledged to beef up security to guarantee the protection of returnees.
The world’s poorest country by the benchmark of the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI), Niger is facing rebel attacks on two borders.
The southeast of the country near the marshy Lake Chad region is being hit by fighters from Nigeria’s Boko Haram and its splinter group, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
The Diffa region hosts approximately 300,000 Nigerian refugees and locally displaced Nigeriens.