Boko Haram
Boko Haram fighters. Picture: AFP

Gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members kidnapped 15 girls overnight in a village near Toumour, southeastern Niger, the local mayor said on Saturday.

Boukar Mani Orthe, the mayor of the town in Niger’s Diffa region near the border with Nigeria, said about 50 unidentified armed men seized the girls in a village about nine kilometres from the town centre.

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Suspected Boko Haram fighters on Thursday killed eight people working at French drilling company Foraco’s water well site in Toumour.

Boko Haram has been waging an insurrection since 2009 aimed at establishing an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria. It has launched repeated attacks into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

The violence has claimed the lives of thousands of civilians and forced millions to flee their homes in the large Lake Chad basin region.

Boko Haram is now renowned for kidnapping young girls since its fighters in 2014 kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, in Nigeria. It also staged this year, another major kidnap of schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe state.