Four Nigerien soldiers and 63 “terrorists were killed in fighting between the army and “heavily armed” men in western Niger, a government statement said on Friday.
“After a fierce fight” on Thursday in the Tillaberi region near the border with Mali, the soldiers who had been on an anti-terrorist operation put the attackers “on the run” and recovered dozens of motorcycles and weapons, the Nigerien Defence Ministry said in a statement read on public television.
The Tillaberi region is in close to the borders of both Mali and Burkina Faso.
Use of motorcycles has been banned there since January in order to curb attacks by jihadists who are active there.
According to an official report, 174 soldiers were killed in three attacks in the area in January and December. Two were claimed by the Islamic State group.
The entire Sahel has become blighted by jihadist violence — often interspersed by conflicts between communities — which left 4,000 dead in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso in 2019, according to the United Nations.