Niger militant attack claims lives of at least 12 soldiers

At least seven soldiers were killed Thursday in a militant attack in southwestern Niger, while five others died in a traffic accident while trying to respond to the assault, the country’s defense minister said.

The attack took place about 190 km (118 miles) from the capital Niamey in Kandadji, near the tri-border zone of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger that has been a hideout for militants.

Defense Minister Salifou Mody said “a military unit was violently attacked by several hundred terrorists in the town of Kandadji.” He said seven of the soldiers died fighting while five others died in a traffic accident, while trying to respond to the attack.

During an intervention launched in response to the attack, “a tragic traffic accident led to the loss of five of our brave soldiers,” he said.

The defense minister said many terrorists, their motorcycles and weapons were destroyed about 20 km northeast of Ayorou in the same region. A search and sweep operation was initiated to track down the enemy, he added.

Niger’s elected government was toppled in late July in a military coup. The leaders justified the action citing the deterioration of the security situation in the West African country.

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