The Economic Community of West African States has condemned the killings of Nigerien soldiers by armed groups.
Seventeen Niger soldiers were killed on Tuesday in an attack by suspected jihadists near the country’s western border with Mali, the defence ministry said.
An army detachment was “the victim of a terrorist ambush near the town of Koutougou,” said the ministry in a statement late Tuesday.
It added that another 20 soldiers had been wounded, six seriously, with all the casualties evacuated to the capital Niamey.
More than 100 assailants were “neutralised” during their retreat, the army said.
However, in a statement on Wednesday, ECOWAS expressed worry over the killings of soldiers in Niger, while it expressed sympathy for the victims’ families.
The statement read in part, “ECOWAS has learnt with sadness various attacks by armed groups in the Republic of Niger that have led to the death of several Nigerien soldiers.
“ECOWAS condemns these attacks and conveys its deepest condolences to the people of Niger and the families of the soldiers who have lost their lives.”
ECOWAS also reiterated the call for the return of reins of power in the West African country to democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum who has been held in his residence since he was ousted by the military on July 26.
It said, “ECOWAS calls on the CNSP-military leadership in Niger to restore constitutional order in order to focus on the security of the country that had become increasingly fragile since the attempted coup d’etat against the democratically elected President, H.E. Mohamed Bazoum.”