Nineteen civilians were killed when armed men raided a village in west Niger close to the border with Mali, a local official told AFP on Sunday, in the latest bloodshed in the troubled region.
“For the moment, the number of dead stands at 19, and two people have been wounded in an attack by armed men on motorbikes in the village of Gaigorou” in the Tillaberi region on Saturday evening, said the municipal official from Dessa.
An unknown number of unidentified assailants, known locally as bandits, initially attacked people attending a funeral at a cemetery, before going on to the village where they “shot at everyone they saw,” the official said.
The Tillaberi region is situated on the lawless “three-border” zone where the frontiers of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso converge and has regularly been the target of jihadist groups affiliated with the Islamic State group.
“What concerns us a lot is this escalation of violence and insecurity that is recently taking place in the region,” Tillaberi governor Tidjani Ibrahim Katiella said in March, pointing to the increased imposition of Islamic taxes by militants, theft of livestock, and violence against civilians.
Thirteen people were killed last month when armed men on motorbikes raided the villages of Zibane-Koira Zeno, Zibane Koira-Tegui, and Gadabo.
Attacks against civilians have increased since the beginning of the year — more than 300 people died in three series of attacks in western Niger. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks so far.