NIAMEY, 5 January 2021 – Niger has declared three days of mourning in loving remembrance of over 100 people killed Saturday in attacks by gunmen in two villages near the border with Mali.
Niger’s Prime Minister Brigi Rafini confirmed the higher death toll after an emergency cabinet meeting in the capital, Niamey, chaired late Monday by President Mhamadou Issoufou.
Niamey says an investigation has been launched into the attacks and has promised to strengthen security in the region as well as to provide support for survivors of the massacres.
Prime Minister Rafini said 70 people were killed in the village of Tchombangou and 30 others in Zaroundareye.
Both villages are situated in the Tillaberi region of Niger, near the border with neighboring Mali.
The Prime Minister, who visited both villages on Sunday, called it “one of the deadliest days in living memory” for Niger.
No group has claimed responsibility for the raids
One of the local mayors, Almou Hassane, told the French News Agency (AFP) that the assaillants came into the villages riding over 100 motorbikes.
Hassane said the group split into two, one each heading to one of the two villages, and they carried the massacres simultaneously.
Outgoing president Issoufou told AFP that the attacks were raided by jihadists, reportedly after villagers from the two localities seized and killed two jihadist fighters.
Hassane explained that no fewer than 75 other villagers were injured in the raids, with many of them needing to be evacuated for critical care in hospitals in the capital, Niamey.
Last month, the jidhadists killed seven Nigerien soldiers in the same region.