At least 20 soldiers were killed after unknown gunmen launched an attack on security forces deployed at a camp that sheltered Malian refugees in Niger on Thursday. The assault took place in the village of Tassalit in Niger's Tahoua region, around 525km northeast of the capital, Niamey. Prime Minister Brigi Rafini said she feared that the number of casualties may rise further as three injured soldiers battled critical condition.
Boko Haram militants have conducted a series of attacks across Niger’s southern border in the past, writes the BBC. Last month, unidentified gunmen struck a security post near Niger's Tabarey-barey camp, killing two Malian refugees.
The identity of the assailants or whether any civilian was killed or injured in the assault remained unclear, reports Al Jazeera. Security remains a big challenge for Niger as it battles terrorism threat on multiple fronts.
While its southern border with Nigeria is vulnerable to Boko Haram militancy, Niger is also exposed to spillover of Malian turbulence in the west. Neighboring Mali has been gripped in violence for years after jihadist militants were driven out of the country by France-led military offensive.