By Paul Ejime
At least seven Niger Electoral officials were reported killed in a roadside bomb attack by anti-government militia groups as the country’s 7.4 million registered voters cast their ballots in the presidential run-off vote on Sunday.
Voting has ended in other parts of the country, but official sources said the attack took place in the Tillaberi region near Niger’s border with Mali and Burkina Faso while the officials were transporting polling materials.
The region is notorious for similar attacks including one in early January with some 50 fatalities.
More than 6,000 were killed and another two million displaced last year in the Sahel region, which has become a haven for deadly insurrections, terrorism and jihadist attacks.
Sunday’s poll pits former Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazoum, the favourite against former President Mahamane Ousmanane.
Bazoum is outgoing President Mahamadou Issouffou’s anointed candidate. Whoever wins Sunday’s poll faces the daunting task of lifting Niger from abject poverty, biting unemployment, political instability and chronic insecurity.