Islamic militants have carried out several attacks in Niger, Mali and Algeria over the past 48 hours, leaving six dead and a number injured as the authorities of these countries continue to battle the insurgents.
According to media reports, six security agents were killed in south-western Niger, near the Malian border, where jihadists have increased their activities recently.
“The attackers opened fire on a security post in the town of Abala, about 150 km north-east of the capital Niamey, at around 7 pm on Wednesday, killing four national guard troops and two gendarmes,” the Voice of America (VOA) reported.
“Just when everyone was preparing to break the Ramadan fast, we heard shots in the town. The exchange of fire lasted almost two hours,” a school teacher in Abala told Anafi, a local radio station.
In another attack, on Thursday morning, several French soldiers from a regional counter-terrorism operation were wounded in a mortar attack on a United Nations peacekeeping camp in northern Mali.
Despite French military intervention in 2013 which pushed insurgent groups back from northern Mali, militant and criminal gangs have continued to operate in the desert straddling the border between Mali and Niger, forcing Niamey to declare a state of emergency along a portion of the border where the shooting took place.
Furthermore, Nigerian security forces are also facing threats from the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, having killed 57 of the militants in April after they attacked a village in the south-eastern Diffa region.
Meanwhile, gunmen attacked an Algerian military patrol in an area south of the capital Algiers, slightly wounding four gendarmes, the ministry of defence said, in an attack later claimed by Islamic State (IS).
Gunmen opened fire on the gendarmerie patrol late on Wednesday in Larbaa area in Blida region, around 30 km south of Algiers, the ministry said in a statement carried on APS state news agency.
Confirming the attack, Amaq, the IS-affiliated news agency, said on Thursday its fighters ambushed the patrol and claimed to have destroyed two vehicles, according to the SITE jihadist monitoring service.
Algerian armed forces have been cracking down on militants tied to IS. An attempted suicide bomb attack was foiled in April in the north-eastern city of Constantine, with one attacker killed and a second arrested.
Islamist militants have carried out or attempted several attacks on security targets in Constantine in the past few months including the shooting of a policeman in a coffee house by three gunmen in October 2016.