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Militants kill hundred in simultaneous attacks on two Niger villages

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows Niger's soldiers in Diffa, on September 3, 2015. (By Reuters)

Around 100 people have been killed and dozens more injured in simultaneous attacks on two villages by militants in Western Niger, local officials say. 

The attacks took place on Saturday in the villages of Tchoma Bangou and Zaroumadareye, which are located 120 kilometres north of the capital Niamey.

"There were up to 70 dead in Tchoma Bangou and 30 dead in Zaroumadareye," Almou Hassane, a regional mayor that administers both villages said on Sunday. 

"There have also been 75 wounded, some of whom have been evacuated to Niamey and to Ouallam for treatment," he added  

News first emerged of the raids on Saturday, but it was not yet clear how many casualties there were in the remote region. 

Giving more details about the assault, the mayor noted that attack were waged by "terrorists who came riding about a hundred motorcycles." The attackers split into two columns to carry out simultaneous attacks on the two villages, which lie seven kilometers apart.  

The two villages are in the unstable Tillaberi region, which is located in the "tri-border" area, where the porous borders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso converge.

The troubled area has for years been targeted by militant assaults. 

At least 4,000 people across the three nations died in 2019 from ethnic bloodshed and violence stirred by militants, according to the UN.

In a most recent attack, at least seven Nigerien soldiers were killed in an ambush in Tillaberi on December 21. Travel by motorbike has been banned in Tillaberi since January in a bid to prevent incursions by highly mobile militants riding on two wheels.

Niger is also being hammered by militants from Nigeria, the cradle of a decade-old insurgency launched by Boko Haram.

Last month 34 villagers were massacred in the southeastern region of Diffa, on the Nigerian border.

More than 30,000 people have been killed and nearly 3 million displaced in a decade of Boko Haram's violence in West Africa, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 

Boko Haram and the West Africa Province (ISWAP) branch of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group have increasingly targeted loggers, herders and fishermen in their violent campaign, accusing them of spying and passing information to the military and the local militia fighting them.

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