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The United Nations has expressed outrage over Monday’s “horrific killings” of no fewer than 58 civilians in neighboring Republic of Niger.

Top officials of the organisation, including Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the President of the General Assembly, Amb. Volkan Bozkir, reacted to the incident in separate communications on Wednesday.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF’) said six children aged 11 to 17 died in the attacks carried out by unidentified gunmen in the villages of Darey-dey and Sinégogar in western Niger.

In a statement, Guterres strongly condemned the attacks and urged the Nigerien authorities to “spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

Bozkir, who reacted on Twitter, described the incident as smocking, adding that he was concerned about the effects of such “cruel terrorist acts on crucial humanitarian work.”

They both condoled with the government and people of Niger, especially the bereaved families.

Earlier, UNICEF said it was “deeply saddened and outraged” that the casualties included civilians, especially children.

The agency recalled that armed groups killed no fewer than 100 people, including 17 children, in coordinated attacks in Niger in early January.

“The surge in armed violence across the Central Sahel region is having a devastating impact on children’s survival, education, protection and development.

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“Mounting insecurity along the borders with Burkina Faso and Mali has exacerbated needs in Tillabery region where more than 95,000 people are displaced.

“In recent months, access by humanitarian actors to conflict-affected populations has been hindered.

“Reaching those in need is increasingly challenging. Violence is disrupting livelihoods and access to social services including education and health care.

“Insecurity is worsening chronic vulnerabilities. Women and children are bearing the brunt of the violence,” UNICEF said in a statement.

Noting that Niger continued to face humanitarian crises worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said about 3.8 million people, including two million children, were affected.

“UNICEF continues to work with the government and its partners in affected communities to provide children and families with essential protection, health care and education services.

“But additional support and engagement from the international community are urgently required to stop violence and help us reach those most in need,” it added.(NAN)