Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamist has claimed responsibility for the weekend attack on a village in neighbouring Niger that left 27 dead.
More people were wounded and some reported missing in the assault on Saturday evening on Toumour in the Diffa region, said a senior local official.
Boko admits attack
Witnesses and other officials confirmed the attack, which came hours before municipal and regional elections went ahead across Niger on Sunday.
“We hereby inform the world that we are responsible for the attack in the town of Diffa in Niger Republic yesterday,” said a three-minute video sent to French news agency AFP
The footage showed a jihadist fighter in military camouflage and his face swathed in a turban, speaking in Hausa, which is widely spoken in the region.
“We carried out the attack with the power of Allah and His help,” it said.
Local officials said some of the victims in Diffa were shot and others burnt inside their homes.
The group, led by elusive leader Abubakar Shekau also promised Christians more attacks ahead of Christmas.
Between 800 and 1,000 houses, the central market and numerous vehicles were also destroyed in the fire set by the insurgents, they said.
Dozens of attackers arrived at Toumour on foot in the evening, having swum across Lake Chad, said one official. The attack lasted three hours.
“They first attacked the residence of the traditional chief, who only just managed to escape,” he said.
“It was an attack of unprecedented savagery,” said an elected local official who asked not to be named.
“Nearly 60 percent of the village has been destroyed.”
The Boko Haram insurgency began in 2009 in northeastern Nigeria before spreading to neighbours, including Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
Since then, more than 36,000 people have been killed in Nigeria and two million forced to flee their homes, sparking a humanitarian crisis in the region.
A regional military coalition has been formed to fight the insurgents.