NIAMEY, Niger — Suspected Islamic militants killed at least 25 soldiers on Thursday in an attack that came just a month after the worst jihadist assault on the military in years, officials said.
The attack, which also left dozens of militants dead, was waged in the town of Chinagodrar, on Niger’s troubled border with Mali. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the assault bore the hallmarks of an Islamic State-linked group that said it was behind a December ambush at a military outpost near the town of Inates.
This week, the United Nations envoy for West Africa and the Sahel described “a devastating surge in terrorist attacks against civilian and military targets” in the region. The attacks include the ambush last month that killed 71 soldiers.
The envoy, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, told the United Nations Security Council that terrorist attacks have increased fivefold in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger since 2016. More than 4,000 deaths were reported in 2019 compared with an estimated 770 deaths in 2016, he said.
Military camps have increasingly been targeted by the jihadists, who have amassed more weapons and vehicles for their arsenal with each ambush. Mali’s military already has retreated from some of its most remote and vulnerable outposts.
Thursday’s attack comes just days before President Emmanuel Macron of France is expected to meet with the president of Niger and other leaders from the Sahel region — a meeting that was pushed back a month ago after the earlier attack.
The leaders from France’s former colonies of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger are expected to discuss the future role of the French military in the face of mounting jihadist attacks.
Niger’s defense ministry said late Thursday that 63 jihadists had been killed along with the 25 soldiers in the new attack, which occurred about seven miles from the border with Mali.