Vatican News English Africa Service.
“I am deeply troubled by the horrific attacks this past Saturday perpetrated by non-state armed groups against civilians in the Nigerien villages of Tchoma Bangou and Zaroumadareye, close to the border with Mali. According to unofficial sources, at least 100 people were killed, including 17 children,” said United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, Henrietta Fore.
Disturbing deaths of children
UNICEF said it deplored the attacks and was disturbed by the deaths of the seventeen children.
“Unconfirmed reports indicate that all of the children who lost their lives – 10 boys and seven girls – were under the age of 16. Some were apparently burnt to death,” said Fore. She added, “An unknown number of surviving children sustained serious injuries in the violence, while many more have now been displaced from their communities. At least 11 children have been separated from their families,” she said.
AP reports that the attacks were reportedly perpetrated by a group of armed men aboard 100 motorcycles. There were 70 people killed in Tchiomabangou and 30 deaths in Zaroumadareye.
Niger will hold three days of national mourning in solidarity with those killed in the attacks, the government said. Apart from the deaths, more than twenty-five persons were wounded and had been evacuated to Niamey and Ouallam for treatment.
A toxic mixture of Jihadist and Inter-communal violence
The National Human Rights Commission has called for an independent investigation to locate those responsible for the “criminal and cowardly” attacks.
Apart from declaring a period of national mourning, the Government of Niger said that in addition to supporting residents who lost food supplies in fires from the attacks, it would also plan a forum to prevent the risk of further inter-community conflicts.
In December 2020, a Jihadist attack in Niger’s Diffa region left 45 people dead, including ten children.