PV International Desk : Gunmen on pick-up trucks and motorcycles coming from Mali killed 13 gendarmes and wounded five more in an attack on their base in western Niger, security sources said on Saturday.
The village is a few dozen kilometres from where militants killed four US soldiers in an ambush on Oct 4 that has thrown a spotlight on a US counter-terrorism mission in Niger, a country that straddles an expanse of the Sahara.
Niger’s military officials confirmed the attack. The assailants crossed over the border from Mali and drove up to the village of Ayorou, about 40 km (25 miles) inside, before springing their attack, the security sources said.
“They were heavily armed. They had rocket launchers and machine guns. They came in four vehicles each with about seven fighters,” said a security source on the scene.
Reinforcements later arrived and stopped them as they tried to cross back over the border, another security source on the scene said, triggering a gun battle. They escaped into Mali and were being pursued, he added.
“Land and air forces are pursuing the assailants with a view to neutralising them,” a statement from Niger’s military said, confirming the death toll.