In a predawn raid Wednesday on a military base in southeastern Niger’s Diffa region, gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members killed 12 soldiers and wounded at least eight others.
A government statement said the casualty figure, arising from the attack on the Blabrine military unit,is provisional.
The attack was “very probably” carried out by Boko Haram, the statement added.
This was the latest in a string of increasingly brazen attacks near Niger’s border with Nigeria, where the radical Islamist insurgency has claimed hundreds of lives.
The attack was launched at around 3:00 am (0200 GMT), a municipal source told AFP earlier on condition of anonymity.
A senior official in Diffa added that military equipment had been torched in the attack.
Diffa, which borders the birthplace of Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, has been hit by repeated cross-border attacks by the Nigerian jihadist group since 2015.
There was a lull in the attacks late last year, but they have ramped up since March when 10 civilians were killed by a suicide bomber in the town of N’Guigmi, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Blabrine base.
The mayor of Kabalewa, a village close to N’Guigmi, and his wife were kidnapped by Boko Haram members earlier this month.
The jihadist group has also previously carried out large-scale assaults on military posts, including a raid on a base near the southeastern town of Bosso in 2016 in which 26 soldiers were killed.
Boko Haram, loosely translated as “Western education is banned”, wants to create a hardline Islamic state.
A regional military coalition is battling the group, but the decade-long insurgency has killed at least 35,000 people in Nigeria alone.
Located in the Lake Chad basin in the middle of the Sahel, the Diffa region is home to 120,000 refugees from Nigeria fleeing the Boko Haram violence, as well as 110,000 people internally displaced within Niger, according to UN data released this month.
The region has also seen flooding after heavy rains caused the Komadougou Yobe river to burst its banks, affecting at least 40,000 people, the government has said.