There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou (C) prays in front of the flag-draped soldiers, killed during an attack on the army camp on the Niger-Mali border, during their burial ceremony at military airport in Niamey.
Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou (C) prays in front of the flag-draped soldiers, killed during an attack on the army camp on the Niger-Mali border, during their burial ceremony at military airport in Niamey. (Reuters)

Suspected militants conducted a large assault on Niger's military on Thursday, leaving at least 25 soldiers dead, along with dozens of fighters only a month after the worst attack of its kind in years, according to the military.

The latest violence blamed on extremists struck the town of Chinagodrar right on Niger's troubled border with Mali. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the attack bore the hallmarks of a Daesh-linked group that said it was behind the December ambush near the town of Inates.

Thursday's assault comes just days before French President Emmanuel Macron is due to meet in France with the president of Niger and other leaders from the Sahel region — a meeting that was pushed back a month ago after the unprecedented attack on Niger's armed forces.

The leaders from France's former colonies of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger are due to discuss the future role of the French military in the face of mounting attacks.

Niger's Defence Ministry said late on Thursday that 63 militants had been killed along with the 25 soldiers in the attack some 11 kilometres from the border with Mali.

On Wednesday, the UN envoy for West Africa and the Sahel spoke of “a devastating surge in terrorist attacks against civilian and military targets” in recent months.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas told the UN Security Council that attacks have increased five-fold in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger since 2016. There were more than 4,000 deaths reported in 2019 compared to an estimated 770 deaths in 2016, he said.

Military camps have increasingly been targeted by the militants, who have amassed more weapons and vehicles for their arsenal with each ambush. Mali's military already has retreated from some of its most remote and vulnerable outposts following a surge in deadly attacks.

Source: AP