NIAMEY, Niger (AP) — Gunmen aboard motorcycles have attacked a series of villages near Niger’s troubled border with Mali, leaving at least 137 people dead in the deadliest violence to strike the African country in recent memory, the government announced Monday.
The latest village massacres come amid a dangerous escalation in attacks following the election of Niger’s new president, Mohamed Bazoum, several weeks ago.
Government spokesman Abdourahmane Zakaria confirmed the latest killings took place Sunday, the same day Niger’s Constitutional Court officially declared Bazoum as the winner of February’s election. He is due to take office on April 2 amid a rapidly deteriorating situation in Niger, long destabilized by the Islamic insurgency in neighboring Mali.
In January, at least 100 people were killed in the western villages of Tchombangou and Zaroumdareye, the same day that Niger announced the presidential election would go to a second round on Feb. 21. Another wave of attacks less than a week ago killed at least 66 others.