Five villagers were killed and two others wounded in an attack by suspected militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram in eastern Niger, officials said Saturday.
The attack took place Friday in the town of Tourmour, said Diffa border region governor Dan Dano Mahaman Laouali. He told Niger public radio that the suspected militants rode on camels into the village of Toumour, killing and wounding townspeople and burning buildings before fleeing toward Nigeria.
The raid marks the first time in three months Boko Haram has carried out an attack in eastern Niger, though the Diffa region has been targeted numerous times by suspected militants in the past.
In early June, Boko Haram launched a major offensive in Bosso, a town in Niger near the border with Nigeria and Chad. Tens of thousands of Nigeriens fled the region after a June 23 attack on the town which killed 26 soldiers.
Boko Haram has been fighting regional governments for years as it aims to create its own Islamic state in Africa. The conflict has led to the deaths of more than 20,000 people. In addition, it has driven some 2.6 million inhabitants out of their homes.
Last year the Boko Haram group had carved out a piece of territory the size of Belgium in northeast Nigeria, but has since been pushed back by the Nigerian military.
The conflict has spilled into Cameroon, Niger and Chad, all of which have joined Nigeria in fighting the group. Boko Haram regularly carries out kidnappings, launches attacks on security forces and bombs markets and mosques.
Nigeria's military said two weeks ago it had "fatally wounded" Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in an airstrike, but it stopped short of saying that he was dead.
bw/kl (AFP, Reuters)