Nine people were killed and at least 40 abducted in south-east Niger after suspected Boko Haram militants attacked a village in the south-east of the country.
Nigerian authorities told Al Jazeera yesterday the attack on the village near Kablewa town, in the vicinity of the city of Diffa and close to the Nigerian border, took place on Sunday.
This atrocity was the latest attack carried out by extremists in Niger bringing into question the prospects of success for the new multinational force, launched by the G5 Sahel States and expected to be operational in the next few weeks, in fighting extremism.
Kablewa Mayor Abari Elh Daouda said eight young people and an elderly man were killed in the attack. The attackers – who entered the village on camels – also abducted 40 people, including women and youths after.
As Niger authorities descended on the village to investigate the details of the killings, it was reported the attack was the second incident near the village in a week.
Last Wednesday, two female bombers fatally blew themselves up in a refugee camp in the town, killing two other people and wounding 11, in violence also blamed on Boko Haram.
The rise in the number of attacks – despite Niamey declaring a state of emergency in the Diffa region in 2015 and claiming it had the insurgency under control – coincides with the G5 Sahel states (Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad) launching a regional, anti-terror force during a Summit on Sunday in the Mali capital Bamako.
The Summit was attended by French President Emmanuel Macron who pledged military and financial support for Mali, a country which has also been the target of regular attacks by Islamist extremists.
The new regional anti-terror force is set to include as many as 5 000 soldiers, with one battalion from each of the G5 countries.
Macron told the summit France would contribute $9 million (around R118 million) to the new force as well as contributing 70 vehicles. Another $57 million (around R752 million) was pledged by the European Union (EU) while Paris is seeking additional funding from partners, including Germany and the United States.
The new force will complement the 12 000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in the region as well as the 5 000 French troops already in Mali which gained its independence from France in 1960.
More than 100 UN soldiers have died in recent months, making it the most deadly UN mission to date.