The mass killings underscore the enormous security challenges facing the new president of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum.
Gunmen in southwestern Niger killed at least 58 people when they intercepted a convoy returning from a weekly market and attacked a nearby village, the government said on Tuesday.
Monday’s attacks took place in the Tillabery region, near the border with Mali and Burkina Faso, and saw increasingly deadly attacks by armed groups active in the region with links to the region. ‘ISIS (ISIS) and al-Qaeda.
The announcement was read Tuesday evening on Niger’s national television by government spokesman Abdourahmane Zakaria, who declared three days of national mourning for the victims.
The massacres underline the enormous security challenges facing the new president of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, who won the elections at the end of February to succeed incumbent leader Mahamadou Issoufou.
The attackers killed at least 100 civilians on January 2 during raids on two villages in Tillabery, one of the deadliest episodes in recent history of the country.
The attackers this time intercepted four vehicles carrying passengers from a weekly market to the villages of Chinagoder and Darey Dey, the government said in a statement.
“These people then proceeded shamelessly and cruelly with targeted executions of passengers,” he said. “In the village of Darey Dey, they killed people and set the granaries on fire.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday’s massacres.
The violence is part of a larger security crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa. Most of the attacks are concentrated where the borders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso meet, an area that a French task force of 5,000 has heavily targeted.
Not only are armed groups active in the Tillaberi region, but counterterrorism offensives against them have helped spawn ethnic militias, analysts say.
Inter-communal tensions have been exacerbated as a result, particularly near the border between Mali and Niger, with fighting over scarce resources.
Fighters staged massive attacks on the Nigerien army in the Tillabéri region, killing more than 70 in December 2019 and 89 in January 2020.