Militants from the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram have killed at least 38 people in raids on two villages in Niger's Diffa region, close to the border with Nigeria.
The attack marks the latest attempt by the Nigeria-based Boko Haram to strike inside neighboring countries that have joined the Nigerian military's attempt to quash the group. Earlier this week, authorities in Chad blamed the group for two suicide bombings in the capital that left at least 33 people dead.
Chad, along with Niger and Cameroon, deployed troops earlier this year to fight Boko Haram after the militants launched a series of cross-border attacks. Last week, those countries joined Nigeria and Benin in announcing a new regional task force headquartered in N'Djamena to counter the militants.
Boko Haram began its insurgency in Nigeria in 2009 and since then has killed thousands of Nigerians in shootings and bombings. The Nigerian government responded with a state of emergency in three northern states where Boko Haram is most active, but that campaign has failed to halt attacks.
Rights group Amnesty International has criticized Nigeria's response, saying earlier this month that the operation has killed an additional 8,000 people.