Death toll in Niger village massacre rises to 105

Mourners attend the funeral of 43 farm workers in Zabarmari, about 20km from Maiduguri, Nigeria, on November 29, 2020 after they were killed by Boko Haram fighters in rice fields near the village of Koshobe on November 28, 2020. - The assailants tied up the agricultural workers and slit their throats in the village of Koshobe. The victims were labourers from Sokoto state in northwest Nigeria, roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) away, who had travelled to the northeast to find work. (Photo by Audu Marte / AFP)

Niger is also fighting jihadists in the southeast of the country, who cross from neighbouring Nigeria.

The death toll from a jihadist attack on two villages in western Niger at the weekend stands at 105, the UN said Thursday, adding that 10,000 people in the area had fled their homes.

Local officials previously said 100 people were killed in Saturday’s twin assaults, the highest civilian toll in the Sahel since jihadists launched a revolt in northern Mali in 2012 before advancing into Niger and Burkina Faso.

Jean-Sebastien Josset, spokesman for the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the capital Niamey, said 32 people had been killed in the village of Zaroumadareye and 73 in Tchouma Bangou.

Twenty-six people suffered bullet wounds and “hundreds” of grain and forage stores were torched, he said.

“The number of people who have fled is now estimated at more than 10,000,” he told AFP, explaining that there had been an exodus from 12 other villages to the towns of Tondi Kiwindi and Mangaize.

“The Nigerien authorities are providing primary aid, distributing food and money,” he said.

Scores of militants arrived on motorbikes to attack the villages, located in the jihadist-plagued region of Tillaberi, 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of the capital Niamey.

The region lies in the lawless “triborder” area, where the frontiers of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso converge.

Thousands of civilians in the three countries have lost their lives in the long-running conflict and more than three million have been displaced, according to the UN.

Niger, which is between two rounds of presidential elections, is also fighting jihadists in the southeast of the country, who cross from neighbouring Nigeria.

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