In Niger a 'ferocious' battle with 'terrorists' leaves 12 soldiers and dozens of militants dead
The attack is part of a broader wave of violence by groups affiliated with al Qaeda and the Islamic State that has swept across Africa's Sahel region, an arid desert region south of the Sahara Desert since 2017
The Niger Defence Ministry announced Sunday that 12 soldiers and "dozens of terrorists" were killed in a battle in western Niger, in the conflict-torn "three borders" zone.
Eight more soldiers were wounded in the clash with "hundreds of armed terrorists" five kilometres (three miles) from Fantio, the statement said. The soldiers encountered hundreds of fighters and came under heavy fire.
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According to the statement, several motorbikes, used by the attackers had been destroyed and communications equipment recovered.
The soldiers "ferociously" defended themselves, killing dozens of the attackers before being overwhelmed by their numbers, said the ministry.
Finally, reinforcements from nearby positions and air support forced the enemy to retreat.
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Fantio is a small rural community located in the Tera district of the Tillaberio region that is regularly targeted by jihadist groups.
The attack is part of a broader wave of violence by groups affiliated with al Qaeda and the Islamic State that has swept across Africa's Sahel region, an arid desert region south of the Sahara Desert since 2017.
Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso have been the scene of some of the worst attacks. There have been thousands of civilian deaths and millions of displaced people in the region.
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Along with attacks from jihadist groups like the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) in its west, Niger also faces threats from Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in its southwest, near the border with Nigeria.
The arid Sahel state is the world's poorest country, according to the UN's Human Development Index.
(With inputs from agencies)