Niger terror attack leaves 15 soldiers dead

Six more missing after blast in Torodi region

(FILES) This file photo taken on November 2, 2017 shows Malian soldiers, part of a joint military force, the G5 Sahel, sitting in a vehicle as they patrol on November 2, 2017 in central Mali, in the border zone with Burkina Faso and Niger. 
Oil-rich Gulf countries pledged 130 million euros on December 13, 2017 towards fighting jihadists in West Africa's Sahel region, as French President hosted leaders in a bid to boost a fledgling five-nation military force. / AFP PHOTO / Daphné BENOIT

Fifteen soldiers have been killed and six more are missing after a "terrorist" attack in southwest Niger, near the border with Burkina Faso, the defence ministry announced Sunday.

The soldiers were first ambushed and later hit by an improvised explosive device as they tried to evacuate their wounded in Saturday attack around 11:00 am local time, the ministry said.

The toll of the attack in the Torodi region left "15 soldiers killed, seven wounded and six missing," the statement added.

Backed by military aircraft, Niger's ground forces launched a "wide search of the area" in order to "apprehend the terrorists," the statement said.

Torodi is in the southwest of the Tillaberi region which lies along the borders of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.

It is subject to frequent attacks by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) and the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), the largest jihadist alliance in the Sahel.

The suspected jihadist attacks increasingly target civilians in the Tillaberi region, a vast, arid territory.

Some 33 villagers were killed in two separate attacks within the last week further north, towards the border with Mali.

A contingent of 1,200 Chadian soldiers is deployed in the three-borders region as part of a multinational force put together by the G5 Sahel group, which comprises Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Updated: August 1st 2021, 10:59 PM