At least 16 Nigerien soldiers and four civilians have been killed in an attack in the northwestern part of the West African country, the army said on Wednesday.
The attack occurred on Tuesday night in Banibangou town located in the Tillaberi region, near the Malian border.
"On Tuesday, May 4, 2021, around 200 bandits attacked Intoussane," the army said in a Fabebook post, adding that the attackers were divided into two groups. One group attacked the defense and security forces and the other group attacked the village.
After "heavy fighting, our forces unfortunately suffered losses and the civilian populations [were] injured."
The bodies of the soldiers were found at the site and the civilians succumbed to their wounds.
The army said some other soldiers were missing without specifying the exact number.
This attack is the second of its kind recorded in less than a week at the Malian border.
At least 16 soldiers were killed, six others wounded and another kidnapped in an attack in the locality of Tillia, Tahoua region last Saturday.
Niger's Tillaberi and Tahoua regions have been facing recurrent armed attacks since 2017, and were hence placed under a state of emergency.
Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali in the Sahel are the epicenters of one of the world's fastest-growing displacement and protection crises. The region hosts 851,000 refugees and nearly two million displaced people, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
In March, at least 137 Nigerien civilians were killed in a series of attacks in the Tahoua region. The attacks came as Niger’s Constitutional Court declared Mohamed Bazoum the winner of a February runoff election for the president. He was sworn in on April 2.