Violent attack as voters select new president

NIAMEY, NIGER (AP) – Deadly violence struck Niger’s presidential elections on Sunday when seven members of the National Electoral Commission were killed when their car hit an explosive device, the Nigerien government announced.

Three others were severely injured in the explosion which occurred in Gotheye village in the Tillaberi region in the country’s west, Advisor to Tillaberi’s governor Addine Agalass told The Associated Press by phone.

The attack happened while Nigeriens were nearly finished voting in the second round of the country’s presidential elections. It’s unclear if it was intended to target the electoral commission officials or if it was related to the election. The West African nation’s been battling rising attacks by extremists for years and Niger experts had warned that Sunday’s elections could see violence.

In January at least 100 people were killed when extremists attacked two villages near the border with Mali. Thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced despite the presence of thousands of regional and international troops.

“Niger has faced growing insecurity on many of its borders, including Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Libya,” said Senior Analyst for the Sahel at the International Crisis Group
Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim.