At least 10 Nigerien soldiers were killed and several others injured in an attack on an army patrol in western Niger Wednesday, a military source said on Thursday.
The attack took place in Tillabery region near the Malian border.
“It is a reconnaissance patrol that has been attacked by armed men, probably from the Movement for the Unity and Jihad in West Africa [MUJAO]… we deplore the deaths of our soldiers and injury to several others,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, said.
The al-Qaeda linked MUJAO is an armed group created in 2010 and is known for operating in the Sahel region.
Another military source, who also requested anonymity, said the assailants also took away seven vehicles of the Nigerien army and destroyed four others.
At least five Nigerien soldiers were killed in a similar attack in Banibangou near the Malian border on Nov. 8, 2016. The attack was also attributed to MUJAO elements.
Niger is also facing insecurity in its southeastern region Diffa region because of repeated Boko Haram attacks since 2015.
In a report released Wednesday, Amnesty International said over 300,000 people need humanitarian aid because of the conflict and the maintenance of the state of emergency in Niger’s Diffa region.
The rights group also documented violations of human rights in the region.
Niger is part of a joint task force created by Lake Chad Basin countries — Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin — aimed at eradicating the Nigerian militant group.