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Gunmen kill 137 in villages in Niger Republic

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.

In January, at least 100 people were killed in the western villages of Tchombangou and Zaroumdareye, the same day that Niger announced the presidential election would go to a second round on Feb. 21.

Another wave of attacks less than a week ago killed at least 66 others.

There have been no claims of responsibility for the recent attacks on villages in Niger.

Niger and neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali are battling the spread of deadly violence, including from the Islamic State group and al-Qaida, despite the presence of thousands of regional and international troops.

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