Boko Haram strikes in Niger

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An attack blamed on Boko Haram killed 28 people and burned 800 homes in Niger’s Diffa region on Saturday, Nigerien authorities and the UN 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 Toumour village, 20 km from the Nigeria border, 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, declaring a 72-hour period of national mourning.

Neithe government nor a UN statement named the perpetrators, but Diffa Governor Issa Lemine said Boko Haram was responsible.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported the group claimed responsibility for the attack in a three-minute video sent to the agency.

The Boko Haram insurgency started in north-eastern Nigeria with violence frequently spilling over into neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon farther south.

The bloodshed in Toumour is among the worst the country has suffered at the hands of the militants, Lemine said.

“It is an indescribable tragedy,” he said, describing scenes of panic after the attack, on an area hosting 60 000 internally displaced persons and refugees.