Violence is increasing against a backdrop of poor governance and deteriorating socio-economic conditions in northern Nigeria, further exacerbating instability across the region.
The deadly brutality unleashed over the weekend across Nigeria is prompting serious questions over the country’s internal security.
The Chadian strongman's demise is set to have major implications for global security and the struggle against extremist groups in Africa.
The oil-rich African nation has become a key regional ally of the West in the fight against militants.
At least 50 people are believed to have been killed in two separate raids in Niger's Tillaberi region. Attacks are not immediately confirmed by Niger authorities.
Nigerian army rescued 180 people in the early hours of Friday, but around 30 male and female students remain unaccounted for after gunmen attacked a forestry college in northwestern Kaduna state overnight.
A spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres confirmed only that there was a "security incident", but gave no further details.
The West African country has seen several mass kidnappings over the years carried out either by bandits or militants, with the latest incidents sparking worries that no school is safe.
A group of gunmen kidnapped 317 girls from their boarding school in in the town of Jangebe, in Nigeria's Zamfara state last week.
"The abducted students and staff have regained their freedom and have been received by the Niger state government," Governor Abubakar Sani Bello says.
Local militia and residents say Boko Haram militants killed 10 people and injured 21 others with mortar shells in the volatile city.
Ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum is seen by many as the favourite after leading in the first round on December 27 with 39.3 percent of the vote. Polling stations opened at 0700 GMT and will close at 1800 GMT (8 am to 7pm) local time.
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