June 24, 2015 / 2:00 PM / 3 years ago

Boko Haram militants kill five in southern Niger: sources

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Suspected Boko Haram militants riding on motorbikes and horseback attacked a village in southern Niger overnight, killing at least five people, two security sources said on Wednesday.

The attack follows a night-time raid blamed on the Nigerian Islamist group that killed 38 people in the same region near Niger’s southern border last week.

“Boko Haram attacked overnight on 23 June the village of Yebi, near Bosso. The terrorists came on horseback and motorbikes and killed at least five villagers,” one of the sources said. The second source confirmed the attack, adding that the attackers had later set fire to the village.

Following last week’s deadly raid, Niger’s military announced ground and air operations to track down and neutralize the attackers.

In a statement read on state-owned radio late on Wednesday, the defense ministry said Nigerien forces had killed 15 Boko Haram fighters between June 18 and 23 and taken another 20 prisoner.

It said one government soldier was lightly wounded in the operations, which also destroyed an armored vehicle and 26 motorcycles.

Despite a regional military operation to beat back Boko Haram, southern Niger has been attacked dozens of times this year. Its government has declared a state of emergency for the region and has arrested more than 600 people it accuses of links to the group.

Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalaki; Writing by Emma Farge and Joe Bavier; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Andrew Hay

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