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Gunmen kill 69 people in volatile region of southwestern Niger

This year, multiple violent attacks in remote areas of southwestern Niger have left hundreds of civilians dead. In the latest assault, gunmen ambushed a mayor and members of his delegation, killing 69 people, Interior Minister Alkache Alhada said on Thursday.

The attack took place on Tuesday, as the mayor of Banibangou traveled through a rural area near the border with Mali. The region is filled with militants, including many affiliated with the local Islamic State chapter, but no one has claimed responsibility for the ambush. Alhada said 15 people survived the attack, and the government is now trying to find and help them. 

Armed groups are fighting to establish control of the impoverished borderlands of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, and want to rid the areas of local and international military, Reuters reports. The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project has tracked the violence in the region, and found that in 2021, not counting Tuesday's attack, Islamist groups have killed more than 530 civilians in remote parts of southwestern Niger. There were several attacks in August alone, with one leaving 37 people dead.