Niger govt confirms 137 dead in village attacks near Mali

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NIAMEY, Niger — Gunmen aboard motorcycles have attacked a series of villages near Niger's troubled border with Mali, leaving at least 137 people dead in the deadliest violence to strike the African country in recent memory, the government announced Monday.

The latest village massacres come amid a dangerous escalation in attacks following the election of Niger's new president, Mohamed Bazoum, several weeks ago.

Government spokesman Abdourahmane Zakaria confirmed the latest death toll, reading a government statement on national television's Monday evening broadcast.

Less than a week ago, he read another grim announcement about attacks that ultimately killed at least 66 people.

Dalatou Mamane, The Associated Press