Görkem ŞEKEROĞLU -TDO- Gunmen killed a large number of civilians Saturday (2 January) in Niger authorities said, in two separate attacks targeting villages in the landlocked Sahel nation's troubled western Tillaberi region.

Around 49 people died and 17 were injured in the village of Tchombangou, while another 30 died in Zaroumdareye, both near Niger's western border with Mali, news agencies reported.

The attack against villagers in the Tchombangou village was confirmed by a local radio station journalist. The second attack on Zaroumdareye which left 30 people dead was confirmed on condition of anonymity by an official from the Nigerien interior ministry. There was no official comments from the Government of Niger.

The attacks took place as the election results were announced by officials for the first round of Niger's presidential vote. The results put ruling party candidate and former government minister Mohamed Bazoum in the clear lead, with a runoff set for next month.

The vast and volatile Tillaberi region is located in the tri-border area, a jihadist-plagued zone where the  Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso borders converge.

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