NIAMEY, 22 February 2021 – Seven members of the electoral commission in Niger were killed in a landmine explosion Sunday which injured an additional three electoral workers.

The car in which the team was traveling drove over an improvised explosive device in the southwestern Tillaberi region of the country.

Election Day Blast in Niger - Al Jazeera

Election Day Blast in Niger – Source: Al Jazeera

Vote Count Underway in Niger's Presidential Runoff - Photo Issouf Sanogo via Getty Images

Runoff Vote Count Underway – Photo Issouf Sanogo via Getty Images

The explosions went off as Nigeriens were voting Sunday in the second round of the presidential election that will see the first democratic transition of power in the country since independence from France in 1960.

“[The officials] were leaving to drop off the ballot boxes and the members of the polling station” when the explosion went off, Reuters reported Sunday citing Harouna Mounkaila, a local electoral commission official.

The governing party’s Mohamed Bazoum, a former foreign and interior minister, secured 40 percent of the vote in the first round and is viewed as the favorite in this runoff.

Mahamane Ousmane (L) and Mohamed Bazoum - Photo Montage Cameroon Tribune

Ousmane (L) and Bazoum – Photo Montage Cameroon Tribune

Niger Runoff - Al Jazeera YouTube Screenshot

Niger Runoff – Al Jazeera YouTube Screenshot

His rival is a former president, Mahamane Ousmane, who got 17 percent of the votes cast during the first round.

He is backed by several minor parties.

Outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is stepping down after two five-year terms.

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