Militants have killed 17 Nigerien troopers in an ambush close to the border with Mali, Niger authorities spokesman has informed the BBC.

Eleven troopers are lacking after the assault close to the western village of Tongo Tongo, Abdourahaman Zakariyyah stated.

Militants killed 4 US troopers on the identical place in 2017.

Niger and different international locations within the Sahel have been going through a rising militant risk from a number of Islamist teams.

Militants belonging to al-Qaeda within the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – an affiliate of al-Qaeda – are lively within the area and are recognized to conduct cross-border raids.

They’re most lively in neighbouring Mali, the place French troops intervened in 2013 to stop them from advancing on the capital.

Mr Zakariyyah stated the troopers had been in pursuit of militants who attacked a excessive safety jail 50km (30 miles) on Tuesday exterior the capital, Niamey.

“One of many troopers’ automobiles drove right into a landmine after which the assailants began firing at our troopers,” Mr Zakariyyah informed the BBC’s Concentrate on Africa programme.

He didn’t establish the perpetrators of the assault however stated it occurred close to the place US troops and 5 Niger troopers had been killed two years in the past.

Six injured troopers have been evacuated to a hospital within the capital, as a search operation, aided by French and American troops, who’ve a base in Niger, proceed, Mr Zakariyyah stated.

Niger is a part of a 5 nation anti-insurgency pressure working within the Sahel. It consists of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Mauritania.

The G5 Sahel, as it’s referred to as, is backed by a three,000-strong French pressure.