Gunmen kill 28, burn 800 houses in Niger attack blamed on Boko Haram
NIAMEY/NEW YORK: An attack blamed on Boko Haram killed 28 people and burned 800 homes in an attack in Niger’s Diffa region on Saturday, Nigerien authorities and the United Nations said.
The Islamist militant group has been waging attacks in the region around Lake Chad since 2009, causing about 250,000 people to flee, according to UN figures.
The latest attack targeted the village of Toumour, less than 20 km (12 miles) from the border with Nigeria, the government said in a statement.
Of the 28 deaths, “10 were from gunshots, 14 by fire, four by drowning and around 100 were wounded,” government spokesman Abdourahamane Zakaria said on Monday, declaring a 72-hour period of national mourning.
Neither the government nor a U.N. statement on the attack named the perpetrators, but Diffa Governor Issa Lemine said on Sunday that Boko Haram was responsible.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported the group had claimed responsibility for the attack in a three-minute video sent to the agency.
The Boko Haram insurgency erupted in northeastern Nigeria, but violence frequently spills over into neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon a little farther to the south.
The bloodshed in Toumour is among the worst the country has suffered at the hands of the militants, Lemine said on Sunday.
“It is an indescribable tragedy,” he said, describing scenes of panic after the attack, which hit an area hosting 60,000 internally displaced persons and refugees.