Suspected militants from the Boko Haram Takfiri terrorist group have killed at least four troops and a civilian in an attack on a military post in southeast Niger.
Local officials and security sources said on Thursday that the attack took place on Wednesday evening in the village of Toumour, near Lake Chad and the Nigerian border.
Four others were missing following the ambush in the troubled village, which is located in the militancy-riddled Diffa region.
The bodies of four militants were found at the scene. A hospital official said eight soldiers were also injured in the assault.
The casualties were caused after heavily-armed attackers entered the village on motorcycles and other vehicles, one of which was painted in the colors of Niger’s military.
Soldiers were reportedly taken by surprise and abandoned their position, allowing the militants to confiscate 10 armored vehicles.
Residents said that assailants stripped villagers of their mobile phones to prevent them from alerting the authorities. Air force and other troops have since reached the area and allowed soldiers to regain control of the position.
Niger has been one of the countries affected by more than seven years of Boko Haram militancy in Nigeria.
In June 2016, an assault on the nearby town of Bosso killed over 30 soldiers, prompting Chad to send 2,000 troops to help Niger counter the militants. Those troops were withdrawn in October last year, raising renewed concern about security in the Diffa region.
According to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the toll from attacks carried out by Boko Haram terrorists fell in Niger last year.
A total of 141 civilians in Niger were killed, kidnapped or wounded by the terrorist group in 2017, showing a sharp decrease compared to 2016, the OCHA said earlier this month.
The Takfiri terrorist group has routinely launched attacks across Nigerian borders into Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
Boko Haram terrorists have so far killed more than 20,000 people and forced over 2.7 million others from their homes.