Two Niger soldiers killed in 'Boko Haram ambush'

File picture shows Niger soldiers next to a burnt out tank belonging to the Boko Haram militants, in Malam Fatori, in northern Nigeria, near the border with Niger (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)

Niamey (AFP) - An alleged Boko Haram attack on a village in southeastern Niger killed two of the country's soldiers, the Nigerien army said Friday, the latest deadly raid by the Islamist group.

The incident occurred when a nearby military unit was warned that an attack was imminent against the village of Baroua, near the border with Nigeria, at around 10:30pm (2130 GMT) on Thursday, and dispatched soldiers to the scene, according to a defence ministry statement read on state television.

On the way to the village, the troops were ambushed by "suspected Boko Haram elements", the statement said, with two soldiers killed and seven others wounded. An army vehicle was also destroyed.

Private radio station Anfani said the firefight following the ambush lasted five hours, and added that the attackers looted shops and took "large quantities of food".

Niger, whose primary source of foreign income is uranium, has joined a regional military alliance, alongside Chad, Niger and Nigeria, to fight Boko Haram, infamous for mass abductions, village massacres and suicide bombings by women and teenagers.

Since February, the southern Nigerien region of Diffa, on the border with Nigeria, has suffered several attacks, including one in June in which 38 people were killed, including 10 children.

Most recently, 15 civilians were killed in a Boko Haram attack on a border village as Muslims marked the Eid al-Adha festival, shattering two months of relative calm in the area.

Thousands of Nigerian refugees have fled to southeast Niger to escape Boko Haram with one of the largest refugee camps about 10 kilometres (six miles) from Diffa.

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