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Niger Mourns 29 Dead Soldiers

map of Niger
map of Niger

NIAMEY — Niger Tuesday began three days of national mourning after 29 soldiers were killed on Monday in a suspected jihadist attack, the deadliest since the junta took power in July.

A televised statement that was delivered by Niger's ministry of defense said Monday's attack involved "improvised explosive devices and kamikaze vehicles by more than a hundred terrorists."

Two soldiers were seriously wounded and "several dozen terrorists" were also killed, added the statement.

Monday's attack took place northwest of Tabatol near the border with Mali — an area plagued by fighting with militants affiliated with the Islamic State Group and Al-Qaida.

The West African nation is battling two jihadist insurgencies — a spillover in its southeast from a long-running conflict in neighboring Nigeria, and an offensive in the west by militants crossing from Mali and Burkina Faso.

Violence in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso has fueled military takeovers in the three nations since 2021. When Niamey's junta overthrew democratically elected president Mohamed Bazoum on July 26, they cited deterioration of the security situation as justification.

The latest violence in Niger comes as the junta indicated considering an offer by Algeria to mediate talks for a transition to civilian rule.

The North African nation, which is regarded as Niger's influential neighbor, Monday said Niamey accepted its mediation offer.

Hours later, Niger's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had "indicated the availability of the Nigerien authorities to examine Algeria's offer of mediation."