Official: Niger security forces repelled attackers

Updated at: 06/12/2013 12:05 PM

(AP) NIAMEY, Niger - Assailants on foot and in a 4x4 attempted to force their way into a school for paramilitary police in a northern suburb of the capital overnight, but were pushed back and fled overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, officials and residents said.

Defense Minister Karidjo Mahamadou told The Associated Press that security services have not yet determined who the attackers were, even as local media attempted to link them to the Islamic extremists who led crippling attacks over the past month. The incident at the Ecole de Gendarmerie in Niamey comes after back-to-back attacks on May 23 and June 1 by jihadists linked with al-Qaida, including twin suicide bombings at a military base and at a French-run uranium mine. The attacks were in cities in northern Niger that are over 100 miles apart, and killed over three dozen people.

Mahamadou said there were no casualties among the gendarmes. "Faced with the tenacity and the firepower of our gendarmes, the assailants scaled the wall of the camp and fled," he said.

A retired soldier who lives near the gendarme school said that he ventured outside when he heard the shooting, which began late Tuesday. There was a power cut and the neighborhood was blanketed in darkness. He said that he managed to see two men on a motorcycle, both armed, leaving the area.

"I saw these people on a motorcycle, carrying rifles. They were trying to flee the riposte from the gendarmes," said Zakou Ali.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)