A man is seen in this file photo holding several guns that are tied together.
Armed clashes between army troops and Boko Haram jihadists erupted Friday in Diffa, southeastern Niger, local authorities said, without providing casualty figures.
Around 3:00-4:00 pm (1400-1500 GMT), Boko Haram elements attacked Diffa, which is close to the Nigerian border, from the south, a senior local official told AFP.
“Defense and security forces responded with sustained gunfire, including from heavy weapons,” the source added.
A second source at the local prefecture confirmed the attack but provided no additional information.
“We do not yet have a death toll, but we have observed panic among the populace,” the source said, adding that calm had returned to the city of 200,000 residents.
Since 2015, Diffa has been attacked several times. In May 2020, fierce fighting between the army and jihadists erupted near the Doutchi bridge, which connects Niger and Nigeria south of the city.
The region is home to more than 300,000 refugees and internally displaced people fleeing jihadist fighters.
Since 2009, fighting between Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group has killed over 36,000 people and displaced nearly two million people in northeastern Nigeria.
Authorities in western Niger, near the borders with Mali and Burkina Faso, must contend with Islamic State jihadists in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).