Prime Minister Brigi Rafini in Niger said Friday the death toll following an attack on a soldier’s camp in Niger is likely to rise, al Jazeera reports.
Rafini, speaking to state-run media, confirmed 22 deaths in the attack near Tazalit, in the western Niger region of Tahoua. The soldiers were guarding a refugee camp for Malians when they were overrun by armed assailants who arrived Thursday afternoon in two pickup trucks and began the camp attack.
William Spindler, spokesman for UNHCR, said the unidentified attackers stayed in the area for two hours after the shooting, and burned a United Nations ambulance while looting medical supplies at the Tazalit camp health center. They then stole a military vehicle and left with it before support could arrive.
The camp, near the Mali border, serves about 4,000 Malians, Spindler said. They have been living there since conflict began in 2012. Niger hosts more than 60,000 Malian refugees, with another 80,000 Nigerian refugees living in the country’s east.
“This is not the first attack against security forces guarding Malian refugee camps in Niger,” Spindler said during a briefing in Geneva.
Last month, a similar attack in the border region of Tillabery – home to 10,000 refugees – left an 18-year-old Malian woman and 5-year-old boy dead. Five others were shot and wounded.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack and called on Niger to hold the assailants accountable.
Image: AP File Photo