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Residents killed in attack in western Niger

Residents killed in attack in western Niger

Seventeen people have been killed in an attack by suspected jihadists on a village in the troubled tri-border region of western Niger, a local elected official said Saturday.

The attack occurred in the village of Theim in the Tillaberi region at around 8:00 p.m. (1700 GMT) on Friday, the official told AFP.

"The death toll stands at 17 and the injured at five," he said.

A resident of the regional capital of Tillaberi said about 10 people had been killed.

Thiem is about 20 kilometres from three other villages from which a series of attacks in May by jihadists with links to Islamic State sent more than 11,000 residents fleeing.

MPs from the region on Friday called for increased security measures for the area, saying the jihadists behind the wave of attacks in the vast Tillaberi region are free to operate despite tight government controls.

In just one month, 98 civilians and 19 gendarmes have been killed in just three departments in the region, they said.

To battle the increasing attacks, Niger has declared a state of emergency, banned the movement of motorcycles, delimited the sale of fuel and closed markets suspected of supplying armed groups.

The "three-border region" is a vast area straddling the borders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso that has long been plagued by land feuds, illegal trade, desertification and a weak state presence.

The vast arid region, along with central Mali, has been the hardest-hit area in the jihadists' nine-year campaign in the Sahel.

Thousands of people have died and tens of thousands have fled their homes.

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