It is unclear who carried out the attack, but the area is overrun by groups with links to Al Qaeda and Daesh.

FILE PHOTO: Nigerien commandos simulate a raid on a militant camp during the US sponsored Flintlock exercises in Ouallam, Niger April 18, 2018.
FILE PHOTO: Nigerien commandos simulate a raid on a militant camp during the US sponsored Flintlock exercises in Ouallam, Niger April 18, 2018. (Reuters Archive)

Sixteen Niger soldiers have been killed and another is missing after an ambush against a patrol in the Tahoua region near the Mali border, local officials said.

During the attack by "bandits" on Saturday the toll was "16 dead, six injured and one missing," Tahoua department secretary general Ibrahim Miko said on public television on Sunday.

He attended the funeral of Lieutenant Maman Namewa, commander of the patrol which was attacked.

READ MORE: Many civilians killed in fresh west Niger attack

Rise in insurgencies

The vast desert area of Tahoua in the west of the country sits close to the borders of both Mali and Burkina Faso and has been plagued by militant violence since 2012.

In March an attack by suspected militants on three villages near Niger's border with Mali left a total of 141 people dead, according to the official toll.

They were the worst attacks committed by suspected militants in Niger in recent years.

The world's poorest nation according to the UN's development rankings for 189 countries, Niger is also struggling with insurgencies that have spilled over from Mali and Nigeria.

The attacks in western Niger are often attributed to groups affiliated to the Al Qaeda and Daesh groups .

Such attacks against civilians have multiplied this year, with over 300 people killed in villages and encampments in western Niger.

READ MORE: Scores killed in second militant attack in southwest Niger this week

Source: AFP