Eleven people were killed on Wednesday in western Niger, a flashpoint for jihadist attacks, when armed men on motorbikes raided three villages near the Malian border, local officials said.
“The assailants arrived on several motorbikes at around 5 pm. They killed three people at Zibane-Koira Zeno, another at Zibane Koira-Tegui and seven more in Gadabo, with one person wounded,” an official told AFP on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A source close to one of the village chiefs confirmed the toll from the triple attack, the latest in a string of raids in the poor Sahel state that have claimed more than 300 lives since the start of the year.
The assailants “encircled the villages” and ran down and killed people who tried to flee, the official said. “They made off with animals, set fire to school classrooms, and looted a health center,” the source said.
It is the second attack on the three villages in less than a year.
Last May 20 people were killed, also by heavily-armed men who arrived on motorcycles and sped off afterwards towards Mali, according to the authorities.
The villages lie close to each other in a remote part of the Tillaberi region, in the lawless “tri-border” area where the frontiers of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso converge.
On Sunday, 137 people, all of them Tuaregs, were killed in the Tahoua region farther north, also by armed men who arrived on motorbikes.