A dozen soldiers are now dead following a rebel attack in southwest Niger.

Seven soldiers were killed in the attack, while five others lost their lives in a traffic accident attempting to respond to the assault.

Niger’s defence minister, Salifou Mody, said in a statement that a military unit had been “violently attacked by several hundred terrorists” in the town of Kandadji on Thursday, adding that seven soldiers were killed in the fighting.

“During an intervention” launched in response to the attack, “a tragic traffic accident led to the loss of five of our brave soldiers”, he continued.

Another seven people were injured and evacuated to a hospital, he said.

The deaths on Thursday come as former colonial power France prepares to withdraw a counterinsurgency force stationed in the country at the request of its new military leaders, who seized power in a coup two months ago.

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