4 soldiers, 63 jihadists killed in clash in Niger

April 4, 2020 GMT

NIAMEY, Niger (AP) — Four soldiers and 63 jihadists have been killed in fighting between Niger’s army and heavily armed extremists in the nation’s west, the government said Friday.

Extremists on motorcycles fought the army Thursday in the Tillaberi region near the border with Mali before being forced to flee, according to a defense ministry statement. The army was able to recover dozens of weapons and motorcycles, it said.

Since December, at least 174 soldiers have been killed in Niger in several attacks. At least two were claimed by fighters linked to the Islamic State group.

Extremism has grown in West Africa’s Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert, with attacks increasing near the borders of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, where many jihadists linked to al-Qaida or IS operate.