NIAMEY, Niger — 100 civilians had been killed in assaults by suspected militants within the West African nation of Niger on Saturday, in response to authorities officers.

Armed males shot males and boys in what was mentioned to be a revenge assault on the villages of Tchoma Bangou and Zaroumadareye. The villages are within the southwestern area of Tillabéri, the place civilians have increasingly come under attack up to now two years.

“They opened hearth on all people,” mentioned Jahafar Koudize, a resident of Tchoma Bangou who managed to flee.

The assault, which got here only a week after Niger’s presidential election, is likely one of the nation’s deadliest ever. Prime Minister Brigi Rafini, in remarks broadcast Sunday on nationwide tv from a go to to the realm of the assaults, put the loss of life toll at 100 however didn’t say who was accountable, Reuters reported.

In December 2019 and January 2020, Nigerien safety forces suffered big losses in the identical area, which can be the place four American Special Forces soldiers were killed alongside 5 of their Nigerien colleagues in 2017.

No group has claimed duty for the killings, however the militants who’ve just lately been making inroads into Tillabéri are with the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, a franchise of the Islamic State.

Your complete area has turn into steadily extra harmful for a lot of of these residing in it.

Since rebels and armed Islamists took management of cities in neighboring Mali in 2012, the terrorist risk has unfold throughout the Sahel, a strip of land south of the Sahara. On the similar time, army forces in a number of Sahelien international locations, together with Niger, have carried out grave abuses.

Niger’s efforts to contain the Islamic State within the Better Sahara have been unsuccessful, consultants say, and safety forces are more and more pulling again from the area.

Mr. Koudize, the Tchoma Bangou resident, mentioned that he had run away together with his spouse and 5 kids however that the armed males had killed as most of the village’s boys and males as they may.

“We tried to defend ourselves as greatest we might — two of us had been armed,” he mentioned. “However once they killed these two, plenty of us fled with our households.”

Mr. Koudize mentioned that on Dec. 15, three armed males had come to attempt to gather cash from the villagers — a “tax” that they impose on communities within the space. Talking in Zarma, he used the phrase “izifuto” to explain the boys, a time period Nigeriens translate variously as terrorist, jihadist or bandit.

The villagers killed the boys, Mr. Koudize mentioned.

“That’s what pushed the jihadists to return in power to take revenge on the village,” he mentioned.

Everybody within the space was fed up with the fixed extortion, Mr. Koudize mentioned.

“All of the villagers within the space determined to combat the terrorists, as a result of even when the authorities ship troopers to guard us, it’s only for a few days,” he mentioned. “We are able to’t reside as prisoners anymore.”

Niger held the primary spherical of its presidential election on Dec. 27, and the vote is anticipated to end result within the nation’s first peaceable, democratic switch of energy.

President Mahamadou Issoufou is stepping down after serving the 2 phrases allowed below the Structure. The governing occasion candidate, Mohamed Bazoum, will face a former president, Mahamane Ousmane, in a runoff to be held in February.