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US Condemns Boko Haram Raids in Niger

File - Niger's special forces prepare to fight Boko Haram in Diffa, Niger, March 2015.

The United States is condemning attacks by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram that killed at least 38 people in southern Niger.

In a statement Friday, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Boko Haram had "perpetrated countless unprovoked attacks on men, women and children in their homes, schools, places of worship and businesses."

He said the United States was committed to working closely with governments in the region to root out the threat posed by the group.

The attacks Thursday took place in two villages in Niger's Diffa region, close to the border with Nigeria. The raids were 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.

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.

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 had killed an additional 8,000 people.