At least 29 Niger soldiers were killed in an ambush by insurgents near the country’s border with Mali, the defence ministry said, the deadliest attack since the military seized power in a coup in July, Reuters reports.
The Niger junta also denied it had accepted an offer by Algeria to act as a mediator to solve its political crisis, even though Algeria had said yesterday it had received official notification of Niger’s acceptance.
The junta said in a statement yesterday that it was surprised by Algeria’s assertion that Niger had agreed for it to act as mediator, and that it rejected its conclusions.
Niger and its neighbours Mali and Burkina Faso, also run by military governments that seized power in coups, are all battling militants linked to Al-Qaeda and Daesh who have killed thousands and displaced over two million people in the Sahel region. They signed a security pact last month promising to defend each other against rebels or aggressors.
The attack in Niger took place as soldiers were returning from operations against the militants. They were targeted by more than 100 assailants in vehicles and on motor-bikes using explosive devices and suicide bombers.”The provisional toll of the attack is as follows, 29 soldiers fell in battle and two were wounded,” the defence ministry said in a statement read on Niger national television, adding that several dozen assailants were killed.
It did not specify which group was responsible or when exactly the ambush occurred, but said the military operation took place between 26 September and 2 October.
Three days of national mourning have been declared.