Suspected Boko Haram gunmen continued their onslaught by kidnapping 15 girls overnight in a village near Toumour, southeastern Niger, the local mayor said on Saturday
The Vanguard reports that Boukar Mani Orthe, the mayor of the town in Niger’s Diffa region near the border with Nigeria, said about 50 unidentified armed men seized the girls in a village about nine kilometres from the town centre.
On Thursday suspected Boko Haram fighters killed eight people working at French drilling company Foraco’s water well site in Toumour.
Boko Haram has been waging an insurrection since 2009 aimed at establishing an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria.
It has launched repeated attacks into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The violence has killed thousands of civilians and forced millions to flee their homes in the large Lake Chad basin region.
Kidnapping of schoolgirls has been a Boko Haram horror mark, since its fighters in 2014 kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, in Nigeria.
It also staged this year, another major kidnap of schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe state. In Mali, French forces said they “put out of action” some 30 Islamist militants, possibly including veteran Malian jihadist leader Amadou Koufa, during a raid in the central Mali region of Mopti.
The French army, which has about 4,500 troops in West Africa battling Islamist militants, did not specify whether the jihadists had all been killed or taken prisoner.
The operation took place with air support on Thursday night, it said. “At this stage of the evaluation of the operation, it appears that about 30 terrorists were put out of action,” the army said in its statement on Friday, adding that Koufa and other prominent militants were probably among them.
Koufa, a radical preacher, inspired the Massina Liberation Front (MLF), a group blamed for a wave of attacks that has shifted Mali’s six-year-old Islamist insurgency from the remote desert north ever closer to its populous south.