NIAMEY (Reuters) - At least nine members of Niger's security forces were killed in attacks by unidentified insurgents on Thursday in the western Tillabéry region near the border with Mali, the government said.
"Terrorist elements carried out simultaneous attacks in Tillabéry. Five policemen, two gendarmes and two national guards were killed," it said in the statement signed by the West African state's defense and interior ministers.
The statement gave no further details.
A Nigerian security source told Reuters earlier that a prison near the region was also attacked by unknown assailants and dozens of inmates were freed.
Niger's poorly policed west is close to Mali's desert north where Islamist insurgents linked to al Qaeda have been hiding to regroup since a French-led military intervention ended their nine-month occupation of the region last year.
(Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalaki; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Mark Heinrich)