NIAMEY (Reuters) - Islamist Boko Haram militants operating out of Nigeria raided a village across the border in southern Niger and massacred at least 15 civilians, Niger security sources said on Friday.
The overnight attack took place in the village of N’Gourtoua in the Diffa region near the West African nation’s border with Nigeria, as residents celebrated Tabaski, or Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice.
“There were at least 15 villagers killed, either shot or with their throats slit. Boko Haram also burned down a number of houses and looted shops,” one of the sources said.
A second military source confirmed the deaths. Both sources asked not to be named as they were not authorized to speak to the media.
A regional offensive by Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon earlier this year drove Boko Haram from much of the territory it held in northern Nigeria. But the militants have since struck back with a renewed wave of deadly raids and suicide bombings.
Niger’s government has placed Diffa under a state of emergency, and authorities there have arrested and imprisoned more than 1,000 suspected militants.
Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalaki; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Hugh Lawson