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Militants ambush soldiers in Niger, 17 killed

Gunmen have ambushed Nigerien soldiers near the Malian border, killing at least 17 soldiers, a government spokesman says.

Another 11 soldiers are still missing after the gunmen attacked Nigerien troops near the town of Tongo Tongo on Tuesday, Abdourahamane Zakaria told Reuters on Wednesday.

The spokesman did not identify who is behind the attack, which occurred in the same region where militants from a Daesh affiliate killed four US special forces and four Nigerien soldiers in an ambush back in October 2017.

Militant groups, including affiliates of al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist group, have intensified attacks on military and civilian targets across West Africa’s Sahel region in the recent months, particularly along the porous borders between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.

Niger’s southeast also faces a threat from Nigeria-based Boko Haram and a splinter group affiliated with Daesh.

Boko Haram’s militancy began in northeastern Nigeria in 2009 but has since spread into the neighboring countries of Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, prompting a regional military response.

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