A deadly terrorist attack on a military camp in a remote region of Niger has left at least 71 soldiers dead, 12 injured and around 30 still missing, Breitbart reported. A “significant” number of the attackers were also killed in the incident, in which artillery shells and kamikaze vehicles were used.
Hundreds of jihadist insurgents carried out the attack Tuesday evening in Inates, located in the western part of Niger. Al Qaeda and Islamic State fighters are suspected in the attack, because they have previously carried out other operations in the same Sahel region this year.
Reuters reported that Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attacks and said that it stole ammunition and tanks from the base. No evidence was provided to support those claims, however.
Details of the attack were confirmed by Colonel Boubacar Hassan of Niger in a state television announcement.
G5 Sahel meeting postponed
Niger’s president, Mahamadou Issoufou, returned early on Wednesday from a visit to Egypt because of the attack, which also caused a planned visit by Issoufou to France to be postponed until next year.
The meeting was to be between the five African countries that make up the G5 Sahel joint military defense force. The other G5 Sahel member countries are Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Chad.
Deteriorating security in the region was the planned topic of the meeting.
Thousands of people have died in the Sahel region since 2012 when the overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi resulted in revolts in Northern Mali. The U.S. and France have sent troops to the region to help with coordination and training, but the attacks have continued.
Attacks ongoing in region
Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have all had multiple attacks within their territories in recent years, despite the troop presence in the area.
13 French troops were killed in Mali in late November when two helicopters collided during a military operation, representing the heaviest French military loss in 40 years.
Another terrorist attack on a military camp in the northern part of the region earlier in November killed at least 53 soldiers.
Besides al Qaeda and Islamic State, Boko Haram and other Islamist groups also operate in the Sahel region.