According to Radio France internationale (RFI), "jihadists" on Saturday attacked the villages of Tchombangou and Zaroumdareye in the vicinity of the Malian border, leaving at least 56 civilians killed and around 20 injured.
A military source in the Malian army confirmed to Sputnik that "about 58 people" were killed in an attack carried out by unidentified gunmen in Western Niger.
The source also outlined that the militants "in recent weeks made threats to the residents of border villages between the two countries, Mali and Niger, in order to support jihadist groups and stand against the state."
Security at the border areas has been beefed up after the attack, the source in the military noted.
Reuters reported, citing two security sources, that at least 70 civilians had been killed in the attack.
The attack occurred on the day of the announcement of the preliminary results of the first round of presidential elections in Niger that saw former Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazoum leading.
Subject to frequent terror attacks, Niger saw its most recent in the middle of December, after the town of Toumour was attacked by the Boko Haram terrorist group, killing at least 28 and injuring hundreds more, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
The attack was condemned by the UN, with the UNRA saying that the Diffa region in southeast Niger "has been hit hard by increasing extremist violence in the Lake Chad basin that has forced hundreds of thousands into the region".
"In the first nine months of this year, over 450 acts of killing, kidnapping, sexual and gender-based violence, and other serious incidents were reported", the agency said.
For the last two years, according to the International Crisis Group, Niger has been at war with Boko Haram*, with the region of Diffa in southeastern part of the country particularly affected by terrorist attacks.
*Boko Haram - a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries