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Niger Army Kills 15 Boko Haram Militants

FILE - Nigerien special forces prepare to fight Boko Haram in Diffa.

Niger's army says it has killed 15 Boko Haram militants in land and air operations and taken another 20 captive.

In a statement released on state-owned radio late Wednesday, Niger's defense ministry said soldiers destroyed an armored vehicle and 26 motorcycles in the operation.

The ministry did not give the exact location of the military activity, but Boko Haram has been active in Niger's southeast, near Lake Chad and the Nigerian and Chadian borders.

Niger is participating in a regional operation to eradicate Boko Haram activity in the area.

Last week suspected Boko Haram militants killed 38 people in Niger's Diffa region, close to the Nigerian border.

The United States condemned that attack and said it is committed to working closely with governments in the region to end the threat posed by Boko Haram.

On Monday and Tuesday, witnesses say at least 40 people were killed in Nigeria's Borno state in suspected Boko Haram attacks on two neighboring villages.

Residents who managed to escape told VOA News that attackers arrived in vans and on motorcycles, burning homes, killing villagers and looting food from the poor farming community.

Also on Monday, at least 30 people were killed when a female suicide bomber blew herself up in a crowded fish market near a mosque in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either attack, but Islamist Boko Haram extremists have frequently targeted civilians during their six-year insurgency.

The attacks come as Nigeria and its neighbors are preparing to strengthen their multinational army that this year drove Boko Haram out of the towns and villages where it had set up a so-called Islamic caliphate.