Boko Haram militants have shot dead at least four people in a town in Niger near the border with Nigeria, a local official said Tuesday, January 29.
Three other people were wounded in the attack on Monday night in Bosso, a town near the Lake Chad basin which has suffered repeated assaults by the jihadist group.
“The provisional figures for this attack by Boko Haram is four civilians shot dead and three others wounded,” the official told AFP.
Several homes and three vehicles loaded with red peppers, a major crop of the local economy, were also set alight, he added.
The attack comes weeks after a Nigerien army ground and air military offensive in the area against the armed group killed nearly 300 Boko Haram militants, according to the defense ministry.
In December, Niger’s defense minister said he feared Boko Haram would launch renewed attacks on its positions from January, when the Komadougou Yobe river’s waters begin to recede.
The river, which helps prevent incursions, serves as a natural border between Niger and Nigeria.
In November, around a dozen girls were taken in raids on several border villages in southeastern Niger.
In the same month, seven local employees of the French drilling firm Foraco and a government official were killed after suspected Boko Haram gunmen stormed their compound. The camp was in Toumour in the remote Diffa region near the borders with Nigeria and Chad.
That attack shattered months of relative calm in the Diffa region near the Lake Chad basin.
Boko Haram’s bloody insurgency began in northeastern Nigeria in 2009 but has since spread into neighboring countries, prompting a regional military response. Some 27,000 people have been killed and two million others displaced, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region.
Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016 over ideological differences. One is led by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi and largely focuses on attacking military and government targets, while the other, led by Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians.
Shekau pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, but ISIS central gave its formal backing to the Barnawi faction, which is known as Islamic State West Africa Province.
ISWA has lately intensified its armed campaign, launching a number of major assaults on military targets in Borno and neighboring Yobe state in Nigeria amid signs of a takeover by more hardline leaders.
There have been dozens of attacks on military bases since July. Most of the attacks have been blamed on ISWA, or claimed by ISIS central as ISWA attacks, but there has been an upsurge in attacks by both factions in recent weeks.
With reporting from AFP