In this file photo, a man is seen holding some guns tied together.
Fierce fighting erupted Friday between army troops and Boko Haram jihadists in Diffa, southeastern Niger, local authorities said, without providing details on casualties.
Boko Haram elements attacked Diffa, which is close to the border with Nigeria, from the south around 3:00-4:00 pm (1400-1500 GMT), a senior local official told AFP.
“Security and Defence forces responded with sustained gunfire, including from heavy weapons,” the source added.
A second source at the local prefecture confirmed the attack, but did not provide details.
“We do not have a toll yet, but we have witnessed movements of panic by the population,” the source said, before adding that calm had returned to the city of 200,000 inhabitants.
Diffa has been attacked several times since 2015. In May 2020 intense fighting broke out between the army and jihadists near the Doutchi bridge that links Niger with Nigeria, south of the city.
The region is home to 300,000 refugees and displaced people who have fled jihadist fighters.
Fighting with jihadists from Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group has killed more than 36,000 people since 2009 and driven almost two million people from their homes in northeastern Nigeria.
In western regions of Niger near the borders with Mali and Burkina Faso, authorities must face off with jihadists from the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).