Human rights group Amnesty International says attacks by Islamist militants in western Niger have worsened significantly since the start of the year, with children increasingly targeted.
A report by the group says the conflict in the Tillaberi region, which borders Mali and Burkina Faso, is having a devastating impact.
More than 500 civilians died between 1 January and 29 July this year from conflicts in the region, exceeding the 397 people killed in 2020, the report says.
Over 60 children have been killed by armed groups in the tri-border area, it adds.
One jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda (JNIM) has intensified its efforts to recruit boys to its ranks, according to Amnesty,
The group lures young men and boys aged between 15 and 17 or younger by using “incentives such as food, money, and clothes”.
Hundreds of schools in the Tillaberi region have been closed as a result of the violence.
The report accuses Niger’s security forces of not only failing to protect civilians but also themselves committing abuses.