At least 17 dead in Niger clashes
Reports from Niger say at least 17 people have been killed in clashes between the army and members of a Tuareg-led rebel group.
The authorities confirmed there had been fighting around the northern town of Tezirzait and said the dead were all rebels, with no government casualties.
The rebel Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) said 26 government troops died along with seven of its own fighters.
The MNJ is fighting for a larger share of northern Niger’s mineral wealth.
Led by the nomadic Tuareg people, the rebels are calling for greater development in the area and a bigger share of the profits from the increasingly lucrative uranium mines.
But the government dismisses them as drug smugglers, arms traffickers and bandits with no political agenda.
The two sides have frequently clashed, with the government ruling out talks until the rebels disarm.