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Niger to beef up security in the west following deadly attack

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Soldiers have been reinforced in Western Niger, where suspected jihadists attacked on Monday. The attack left 66 people killed, according to the Nigerien Interior Minister.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. But the Interior, Alkache Alhada wants to beef up security in the area.

"We are going to increase the number of personnel to allow patrols from village to village and also to ensure that they are supplied with food and therefore go to the markets, and to ensure that there are escorts to go to the markets to obtain supplies so that economic and social life can continue", Alhada said.

On Wednesday, the government called for greater vigilance from the population, while reaffirming its quest to battle against criminality.

- Sahel violence -

Niger is part of a France-backed alliance of countries in the Sahel region battling militants, including some in a group aligned with the Islamic State known as ISWAP -- an offshoot of Boko Haram.

Hundreds of lives have been lost, nearly half a million people have fled their homes, and devastating damage has been inflicted.

On January 2, 100 people were killed in attacks on two villages in the Mangaize district of Tillaberi.

The massacre, one of the worst in Niger's history, occurred between two rounds of the country's presidential election.

In December 2019, 71 Nigerien troops died in an attack at Inates, and the following month 89 were killed in an assault on their base at Chinedogar.

Along with central Mali, the lawless tri-border area sees the most frequent and deadliest jihadist attacks anywhere in the Sahel region.

French forces working with local troops have stepped up operations in the region since early 2020, following the string of attacks on military camps that killed hundreds of soldiers.