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Boko Haram attack on Niger army base kills 32 soldiers

Niger's defense ministry says 32 soldiers have been killed in a clash with Boko Haram militants in the country's southeast. The West African nation is part of a multinational force battling the jihadist group.

Hundreds of Boko Haram assailants staged an overnight attack on a military post in the southeastern town of Bosso, according to a defense ministry statement on Saturday.

Thirty soldiers from Niger, as well as two from Nigeria, were killed in the assault, the ministry said, adding there were also "several deaths" among the militants.

"The counter-offensive conducted early this morning helped to retake control of all the positions in the city of Bosso. The situation is under control and calm has returned," the statement said. "A sweep is ongoing in the area with the mobilisation of all land and air means."

Thousands of people attempting to escape Boko Haram attacks have fled to Niger's Diffa region, where Bosso is located.

Towns in the area have been increasingly hit by violent raids blamed on the militants, who launched an insurgency in their stronghold in northeastern Nigeria in 2009. The group is seeking to carve out its own state and establish a strict interpretation of Islamic law in West Africa.

Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon are

part of a military coalition

formed to tackle the extremist fighters. The violence over the past seven years has left at least 20,000 people dead and displaced more than 2 million.

nm/gsw (Reuters, AFP)

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