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9 Killed in Suspected Boko Haram Militants Attack in Niger

People walk through the debris at a camp for people displaced following an explosion by Islamist extremists, in Maiduguri, Nigeria, June 8, 2017.

Officials in Niger say suspected Boko Haram militants have killed nine people and abducted dozens more in an attack on a southern town.

Local officials said Monday that the gunmen came into the village of Ngalewa, near the country's border with Nigeria, on camels and horses. They said the militants took around 30-40 people, mostly women and children, late Sunday and threatened to hold them until other extremists are released from prison.

The town is near the city of Diffa, where another attack took place on Wednesday, also blamed on Boko Haram militants. In that incident, two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a refugee camp in the town, killing two other people and injuring 11.

Boko Haram's insurgency began in northeastern Nigeria in 2009, but has since spread to Chad, Cameroon and Niger. The insurgency has claimed 20,000 lives and displaced more than two million people. Boko Haram says it is fighting to create an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria.

Nigeria's army, with the help of troops from neighboring countries, has pushed the militant group out of a large tract of land — about the size of Belgium — which the militants had controlled until early 2015.

However, suicide bombings and gun raids in mostly busy public areas, such as mosques and markets, have continued in northeast Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon and Niger.