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At least 70 soldiers were killed in an attack on a remote military camp in Niger near the border with Mali on Tuesday evening, the defence ministry confirmed, in the deadliest raid against the Nigerien military in living memory.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the assault. But Islamist militants with links to the Islamic State group and al Qaeda have mounted increasingly lethal attacks across West Africas Sahel region this year despite the commitment of thousands of regional and foreign troops to counter them.
Tuesdays attack struck a base in the western Niger town of Inates, the sources said, in the same area where the Islamic State groups West African branch killed nearly 50 Nigerien soldiers in two attacks in May and July.
FRANCE 24s expert on terrorism, Wassim Nasr, said the attackers had used more or less the same strategy as in the July attack, in which at least 17 soldiers were killed.
“There were suicide attackers at first, then mortars and then attackers on bikes, attacking the base from different angles,” he said.
“We know they hit the transmission facility first of all to cut the base from its environment, knowing that phone connections had been cut since the attack in July. So lessons werent learned.”
“The same base was attacked a second time, with the same technique and the same modus operandi,” he said.
The defence ministry said 12 soldiers had also been wounded in Tuesdays attack and that others remained missing.
President Mahamadou Issoufous office tweeted that Issoufou had cut short a visit to Egypt in order to return to Niger “following the tragedy that occurred in Inates”.
Security has deteriorated this year across the Sahel, a semi-arid strip of land beneath the Sahara, due to jihadist attacks and deadly ethnic reprisals between rival farming and herding communities.
The region has been in crisis since 2012, when ethnic Tuareg rebels and loosely aligned jihadists seized the northern two-thirds of Mali, forcing France to intervene the following year to beat them back. But the jihadists have since regrouped and expanded their range of influence.
The rising body count this year has inflamed popular anger against regional governments and former colonial master France, which has 4,500 troops deployRead More – Source