A local official and a security source claimed on Saturday that at least 16 people were killed in an attack on a town in southwestern Niger where Islamist terrorists have frequently slain civilians this year.
Unidentified gunmen opened fire during Friday prayers in the Tillabery area village of Theim, killing 16, according to local mayor Halido Zibo over the phone.
The attack was confirmed by a security source, who put the death toll at 17.
The incident comes after the massacre of 37 civilians, including 14 children, in a village in the same region on Monday.
Armed groups in Tillabery and Tahoua regions bordering Mali have killed over 420 civilians and driven tens of thousands of others from their homes in 2021, New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch said in a report this month.
The attacks are part of a wider conflict spanning the borderlands of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger in Africa’s Sahel region where jihadists linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State are seeking to take control.