At least 26 Niger government soldiers have been killed in an attack at a refugee camp.
Unidentified armed men, suspected to be jihadists, attacked the Tizalit refugee camp, which shelters nearly 4,000 Malians, in the Tahoua region around 2 p.m. Thursday.
A local journalist told VOA's Hausa service that the attackers came in three pickup trucks and launched the surprise attack on soldiers who protect the camp, which is 80 kilometers from Niger's border with Mali.
Twenty-two soldiers were killed at the scene, and four more succumbed to their injuries Friday after being admitted to a nearby hospital.
"It's truly a great loss for our security and defense forces," Niger Prime Minister Brigi Rafini said.
Witnessess said the gunmen stole at least three vehicles — two from the military and one from a civilian. An ambulance was also set aflame.
So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack, according to a statement from his spokesman. The U.N. chief called on authorities to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice and reinforce security around refugee camps.
Niger hosts about 60,000 Malian refugees, according to the U.N. refugee agency.