Inside Minister Alkache Alhada says the assault befell within the villages of Tchombangou and Zaroumdareye, close to the border with Mali.

Gunmen have killed dozens of civilians and wounded a number of extra in assaults on two villages in western Niger, close to the nation’s border with Mali, in accordance with a senior official.

Inside Minister Alkache Alhada instructed the DPA information company that the assaults befell within the villages of Tchombangou and Zaroumdareye within the area of Mangaize on Saturday.

A minimum of 56 civilians have been killed and 20 extra wounded, he mentioned, with out specifying the precise toll in every village.

It was not instantly clear who was liable for the assaults.

An area journalist instructed the AFP information company that fifty folks have been killed in Tchombangou, whereas Reuters, citing a safety supply, mentioned a minimum of 49 have been killed and 17 have been wounded in the identical village.

One other 30 have been killed in Zaroumdareye, Reuters reported, citing a second safety supply.

Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from Niger’s capital Niamey, mentioned, “The assumption right here is that the attackers got here in throughout the border from Mali.

“That is among the most porous areas of Niger. The border with Burkina Faso can be porous and has seen assaults from armed teams loyal to al-Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIL, ISIS). And on the border with Nigeria, we’ve seen elevated exercise with Boko Haram assaults focusing on not solely civilians, but in addition army personnel.”

The violence got here on the identical day Niger introduced the outcomes from the primary spherical of a presidential election.

Former Inside Minister Mohamed Bazoum of the governing Nigerien Occasion for Democracy and Socialism was main the vote with 39 p.c of the votes. He’ll now face former President Mahamane Ousmane, who garnered 17 p.c of the vote, in a runoff on February 20.

The world the place Saturday’s assaults befell, Mangaize, is situated in Tillaberi, an unlimited and unstable area the place the borders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso converge.

Fighters with hyperlinks to al-Qaeda and the ISIL (ISIS) armed group have more and more mounted assaults throughout West Africa’s Sahel area lately regardless of the presence of 1000’s of regional and overseas troops.

The violence has hit Mali and Burkina Faso the toughest, however has additionally spilled into western Niger. Based on the United Nations, a minimum of 4,000 folks throughout the three nations died in violence linked to the armed teams in 2019.

On December 21, seven Nigerien troopers have been killed in an ambush in Tillaberi, whereas 34 villagers have been massacred within the southeastern area of Diffa on the Nigerian border final month.