NIAMEY, NIGER (REUTERS) - The leaders of the G5 Sahel countries on Sunday (Dec 15) visited the graves of 71 Niger soldiers killed near the Mali border in the worst militant attack on security forces in Niger in memory.
Islamic State claimed to have killed the soldiers in an attack on a remote military camp on Tuesday, as militants with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State continue to strengthen their foothold in the region.
The G5 Sahel force, backed by France and the United States, consists of Mali, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.
Presidents of the five countries are currently meeting for a session of the group of nations whose multi-national military forces are fighting Islamist insurgents.
However, nearly three years after its launch, the G5 Sahel remains underfunded and hobbled by poor coordination.