Gunmen kill 37 people in Niger village attack

Published : August 18, 2021 16:30 IST

Militant attacks have repeatedly targeted villages in Niger and Mali. Photo: Philippe de Poulpiquet/LE PARISIEN/PHOTOPQR/MAXPPP/picture alliance

The shooting left 14 children dead as the assailants reportedly "shot at anything that moved."

Armed men killed 37 civilians, including 14 children, in an attack on a village in southwest Niger, officials said on August 17.

Western Niger has been mired in violence, with frequent attacks on villagers. Militants have massacred hundreds of civilians in the region in this year alone.

What we know about the attack

Unidentified shooters opened fire on August 16 in the commune of Banibangou, in the Tillaberi region near Niger's border with Mali.

A local official told AFP news agency that the assailants "arrived on motorbikes" in the village of Darey-Daye in the afternoon as people were working in the fields. "They found people in the fields and shot at anything that moved," a local journalist told AFP.

HRW: Islamists 'waging war' on civilians

According to a report issued by Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week, at least 420 civilians were killed in jihadi attacks in Tillaberi and the neighboring region of Tahoua this year. "Armed Islamist groups appear to be waging war on the civilian population in western Niger," Corinne Dufka, the Sahel director for the international rights group, said in the report.

HRW said people with disabilities and "numerous children" were killed, including some who were executed after being ripped from their parents' arms. Extremist militant attacks have also destroyed schools and churches, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

Militants operating in the so-called triborder region, between Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali are mostly affiliated with al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group. Similar attacks have repeatedly occurred in the region despite security efforts by authorities. Shooters on motorbikes flee across the border into Mali after their raids.

fb/rs (AFP, Reuters)