In one of its deadliest terror attacks in Niger's history, an Islamic State affiliate went on a deadly rampage when hundreds of its terrorists stormed a military garrison in Inates, a village located near the border with Mali.
At least, 71 Niger army personnel were killed, 12 were wounded and dozens of soldiers are still missing, in the attack on the military garrison located merely 124 miles from the capital, Niamey, France24 reported.
On Friday, the bodies of the slain soldiers were laid to rest with military honor draped in the national flag. In an online statement, the Islamic State terror group claimed it's affiliate in Africa - The Islamic State's West Africa Province (ISWAP) carried out the attack on the base and claimed that they killed "over a hundred soldiers."
The ISWAP, which till 2015 called itself Boko Haram, carried out a large scale attack. Local reports claim that at least 500 militants stormed the army base on motorbikes and pick-up trucks.
A report in Bloomberg observed that the terrorists destroyed the communication channels and cut-off the base so that it won't be able to call for reinforcements.
The Islamic State militants earlier were more active mainly in Syria and Iraq, however, with the decline of ISIS in the Middle East, the Muslim-terror group has increasingly been consolidating its presence in Africa.
"If we look at what's been happening of late, Islamic State has increased its mobility, its power and its access to resources," Former Malian Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga told Radio France Internationale on Friday.
Over 230 soldiers have lost their lives in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso in militant attacks carried out by Islamist jihadists, besides thousands of civilians who have died and more than a million who have been displaced since the jihadist revolt began in Mali.
Since the overthrow of Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi in 2011, Islamist militant violence engulfed the Sahel, an arid landmass located on the southern-most side of the Sahara.
According to Jason Warner, author of Sub-Saharan Africa's Three "New" Islamic State Affiliates - the region is now home to three new ISIS branches - In West Africa, the group known as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) has gained prominence.
The second relatively new Islamic State affiliate in sub-Saharan Africa is known as the Islamic State in Somalia (ISS) and third is the Islamic State in Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda (ISISSKTU).
Rashid Abdallah, an expert on the Middle East and African affairs, in an editorial in Al Jazeera observed that the ISIS is now focusing on building a Caliphate in Africa.
The ISIS affiliates have recruited hundreds of unemployed youth from the region and have been engaging in last scale attacks that have killed hundreds of soldiers and citizens from Senegal to Sudan.