An attack by Islamic extremists in western Niger killed at least a dozen soldiers and wounded seven others, the West African nation’s military junta said.
The soldiers were on a mission in the Tillaberi region town of Kandadji when hundreds of jihadis on motorcycles attacked them Thursday, Gen. Salifou Mody, Niger’s defense minister, said in a statement. The wounded were evacuated to military hospitals, the statement said.
The junta claimed that military personnel killed a hundred extremists and destroyed their motorcycles and weapons. The Associated Press was not able to independently verify the claim.
Niger has battled a jihadi insurgency linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group for years. Attacks have increased since mutinous soldiers toppled the country’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, in July.
During the month after the junta seized power, violence primarily linked to the extremists soared by more than 40%, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. Jihadi attacks targeting civilians quadrupled in August compared with the month before, and attacks against security forces spiked in the Tillaberi region, killing at least 40 soldiers, the project reported.