Niger says it's routed armed group near Mali border

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NIAMEY, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Niger's military has "neutralised" an unidentified armed group it says killed seven soldiers and one civilian in clashes near the Mali border last week, Interior Minister Albade Abouba said on Thursday.

"The group of attackers was neutralised and our defence forces also took prisoners, recovered weapons and ammunition," Abouba told reporters at a news conference.

He said security forces had killed 11 of the gunmen, but declined to say how many had been taken prisoner and would not give details of their nationalities.

The fighting in the uranium-rich central African nation adds to tensions in a region where Tuareg rebels and al Qaeda cells are active.

Four Saudi Arabian travellers were killed in an apparent botched hostage-taking on Dec. 28 near the border with Mali. Four other foreigners -- three Spaniards and one Frenchman -- are believed to be held hostage in Mali by al Qaeda.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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