Boko Haram attack on village in Niger leaves at least 28 dead

An attack by the jihadi group Boko Haram in a village in Niger’s southeast killed at least 28 people, Niger’s government said Monday.

Attackers set fire to Toumour’s market and some 800 homes and began shooting at anyone who tried to flee during the assault that began Saturday night and ended Sunday, the government said.

The governor of Diffa, Issa Lemine, visited the site of the attack and said it was an indescribable tragedy with hundreds of homes destroyed and people scattered.

“Currently the population is in disarray, hiding in the bush and the surrounding villages,” he said.

The Nigerien government has announced 72 hours of mourning.

Some drown trying to escape

Toumour is a Nigerien village located on the edge of the Komadougou River. Located about 75 kilometres east of Diffa, Boko Haram has attacked there before, arriving in canoes at night.

Among the dead were residents who drowned after throwing themselves into the river in an attempt to escape, the government said.

The Islamist militant group has been waging attacks in the region around Lake Chad since 2009, causing about 250,000 people to flee, according to UN figures.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the attack and expressed condolences to the bereaved families, according to a statement by his spokesman in New York.

Niger held local elections Sunday in more than 220 municipalities. The West African nation will hold presidential and legislative elections in about two weeks.

Boko Haram is based in neighbouring Nigeria. Its decade-long insurgency has focused on attacks inside that country, but the extremists also have staged attacks in Niger and Cameroon.

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