100 reported killed in Niger village attacks

Government officials in the West African nation of Niger say armed militants have attacked two villages in the western part of the country, killing around 100 people.

They say suspected Islamist militants carried out simultaneous attacks on the two villages on Saturday.

Prime Minister Brigi Rafini announced the death toll in a televised speech after a visit to the area on Sunday.

Local media reports say dozens of armed men on motorcycles randomly attacked people in both villages, which are several kilometers apart.

The attacks came almost a week after Niger's presidential election. Anti-extremist measures were one of the main issues in the vote on December 27.

Niger is one of the countries in the Sahel, a region south of the Sahara Desert. The area is seeing a rise of Al-Qaeda, Islamic State militants and other Islamist groups.

The United Nations says the death toll from terrorist attacks has been rising in the Sahel, with more than 4,000 lives lost in 2019.