Fifty-eight people have been killed in “barbarous” attacks on a bus and nearby villages in Niger close to the country’s border with Mali, the government said on Tuesday. On Monday afternoon, “groups of armed, still unidentified individuals intercepted four vehicles carrying passengers back from the weekly market of Banibangou to the villages of Chinedogar and Darey-Daye,” the government said in a statement read out on public television.
“The toll from these barbarous acts (is) 58 dead, one injured, a number of grain silos and two vehicles burned and two more vehicles seized,” it added. No group claimed responsibility, but Niger is struggling with two jihadist campaigns — in the west near Mali and Burkina Faso, and a decade-old insurgency in the southeast on the border with Nigeria. A local resident told that the raids began with an attack on a bus in which “around 20 people were killed.” The raids took place in the Tillaberi region located in the “tri-border area” — a flashpoint zone where the frontiers of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali converge. Just a few kilometers from the Malian border in the major market town, people were killed while shopping. No one has claimed responsibility for the massacre. The government announced three days of national mourning from Wednesday.