Dakar / New York — "I am deeply troubled by the horrific attacks this past Saturday perpetrated by non-state armed groups against civilians in the Nigerien villages of Tchoma Bangou and Zaroumadareye, close to the border with Mali. According to unofficial sources, at least 100 people were killed, including 17 children.
"Unconfirmed reports indicate that all of the children who lost their lives - 10 boys and 7 girls - were under the age of 16. Some were apparently burnt to death.
"An unknown number of surviving children sustained serious injuries in the violence, while many more have now been displaced from their communities. At least 11 children have been separated from their families.
"These terrible events follow another brutal attack last December in Toumour, in Niger's Diffa region, that left 45 people dead including 10 children. That attack destroyed vital food stocks, water infrastructure and two classrooms, affecting nearly 21,000 people.
"Such wanton violence and disregard for the lives of children and families must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. These heinous acts are grave violations of children's rights and of international humanitarian and human rights law. UNICEF calls for the immediate cessation of attacks against children, their families and communities.
"We also express our deepest sympathies to the victims' families and reaffirm UNICEF's support for children and families across Niger. UNICEF stands ready to support the Government of Niger in assisting survivors and affected populations, and in protecting the rights of all children."