17 soldiers killed in ambush in Niger: government spokesman

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A Nigerian soldier stands guard near information stands in a camp for internally displaced people (IDP), home to some 300,000 Nigerian refugees and internally displaced by Boko Haram, in Diffa, Niger, on August 17, 2016, ahead of celebrations for World Humanitarian Day on August 19. / AFP / BOUREIMA HAMA (Photo credit should read BOUREIMA HAMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Niger Army armed forces on patrol. (Photo credit ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

A government spokesman for Niger says at least 17 soldiers  were killed and 11 went missing in an ambush near the border with Mali on Tuesday.

Abdourahamane Zakaria told Reuters that the attack happened near the town of Tongo Tongo, where fighters from an Islamic State affiliate group killed four U.S. Special Forces and four Nigerien soldiers in an ambush in October 2017.

Niger is one of the West African nations attacked by Boko Haram from its base in northeast Nigeria. It has been fighting for more than nine years in an attempt to establish an Islamist caliphate.

In June 2016, more than 30 Nigerien soldiers were killed in a Boko Haram attack on the town of Bosso. Chad then sent about 2,000 troops to help it combat the militants.

In January, the Defence ministry said that more than 280 Boko Haram militants were killed since the Niger government started an operation against the group in December 2018.

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