In southwestern Niger, gunmen on motorcycles attacked several villages and hamlets, killing at least 137 people.

Described as one of the worst attacks in Niger’s history, the militants attacked three villages along the Mali border and indiscriminately opened fire on everyone.

Niger Attack: Gunmen killed 137 people
Niger Attack: Gunmen killed 137 people in 3 villages | PC: Reuters

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The government said in a statement Monday that 137 people had been killed in the attack, which local officials had earlier put at 60.

Government spokesman Zakaria Abdul Rehman said in a statement on state TV that the armed groups, which systematically targeted the civilian population, had taken a step forward and crossed all boundaries of brutality and fear.

Such actions are the biggest challenge for Niger’s newly elected president, Mohamed Bezoum, whose victory in last month’s election was sealed on Sunday.

Niger, ranked 189th in the world, the world’s poorest country, is struggling to deal with armed groups that have spread to Mali and Nigeria and have killed thousands so far.

The three villages targeted on Sunday are located in the Ard Tahwa area, which borders Mali and is a hotbed of conflict, with reports of militants from terrorist organizations such as ISIS and al-Qaeda in the area.

On March 15, gunmen stormed a bus carrying shopkeepers in the Talbari area, killing at least 66 people, and then they attacked the village and killed the people living there and set fire to the grain warehouses.

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On the same day, ISIS militants killed 33 Malian soldiers in an operation in the border area.

President Mohammad Bezum condemned the atrocity in a Twitter message and offered condolences to the family.

Niger has faced some of the worst attacks by armed groups in recent times, and in one such incident on January 2, attackers attacked two villages during the presidential campaign, killing 100 people.

A year earlier, on January 9, an army camp in Niger was attacked, killing 89 soldiers.

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