The death toll from Thursday’s attack by suspected jihadists on a Niger army base is at least 89, security sources said, surpassing a raid last month that killed 71 soldiers as the deadliest against Nigerien forces in years.
Government said on Thursday 25 soldiers were killed, according to a provisional death toll, while successfully repelling the attack in Chinagodrar by assailants on motorcycles and in other vehicles.
Four security sources told Reuters t at least 89 members of Niger’s security forces killed in the attack were buried on Saturday in Niamey.
One sources said the actual death toll could be higher because some soldiers were buried immediately on Thursday in Chinagodrar.
Defence Minister Issoufou Katambe said an updated death toll would be announced after a national security council meeting.
The Chinagodrar attack, a month after the raid in nearby Inates by fighters from an Islamic State affiliate that killed 71 soldiers, highlights the deteriorating security situation near Niger’s borders with Mali and Burkina Faso.
French fighter jets were scrambled on Thursday to scare off attackers, France’s regional taskforce said, possibly averting a heavier casualty count.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack with Katambe saying the army would launch a new offensive against jihadists.