Boko Haram extremists are suspected of carrying out a deadly attack on the village of Gogone in Niger near its border with Nigeria. Among those killed was the village's imam. Numerous residents were also left wounded.
Reports emerged from Niger on Thursday that assailants on motorbikes arrived in Gogone on Wednesday night, firing guns indiscriminately at its residents.
Niger government spokesman and Justice Minister Marou Amadou was quoted by Reuters as saying that the village imam's throat "was slit by his own nephew."
Gogone lies near the shores of Lake Chad in Niger's Diffa region, which has suffered numerous cross-border strikes by Boko Haram, which has its stronghold in neighboring northeast Nigeria.
Attackers often cross the River Komadougou, which marks the border.
Amadou said 11 other villagers were wounded and a three-year-old infant girl had disappeared.
Niger's army (pictured above) was pursuing "the terrorists, in all nooks and crannies of Lake Chad," he said.
Niger is one of five countries contributing to a regional force whose aim is to eliminate Boko Haram.
A six-year uprising by the Islamist militia is estimated to have claimed 20,000 lives and driven 2.3 million people from their homes.
Earlier this year, forces from Nigeria and Chad sought to drive the extremists out of areas in which they had proclaimed an Islamic caliphate.
Recently, Nigeria's air force and ground troops freed more than 1,000 kidnap victims while destroying numerous Boko Haram camps.
In June, Nigeria's newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the military to crush the insurgency by December.
Delay to rooting out Boko Haram?
On Thursday, however, a spokesman for Nigeria's Center for Crisis Communication, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas, said that deadline "may be unrealistic."
He warned Nigerians not to view December as a "sacrosanct date when all suicide bombings will end."
ipj/sms (AP, Reuters)