The Takfiri Boko Haram militant group has reportedly recaptured the town of Bosso in southeastern Niger, says its mayor.
Hundreds of militants attacked a military post in Bosso near the southeastern border with neighboring Nigeria on Friday, taking its control and killing 32 soldiers from Niger and Nigeria.
Nigerien authorities said around 70 soldiers were wounded and some 55 Boko Haram militants were also killed.
Nigerien troops later retook Bosso on Saturday, but the militants once again took over the town on Sunday night.
The mayor of Bosso Mamadou Bako and a military source confirmed the takeover on Monday, but the Nigerien government denied it.
The government said the town was “completely under control” on Monday evening and vowed to avenge the death of its soldiers.
“We must continue to fight, this insult must be expunged, there is nothing to be done, it must be avenged,” said Defense Minister Hassoumi Massoudou.
The residents of the town are reportedly fleeing the area, according to the UN humanitarian agency. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said thousands of residents have fled Bosso to “more secure areas.”
No official figure on population movements is available, but OCHA said the attacks could displace around 40,000 people from the towns of Bosso and Yebi.
Reports indicate that displaced people are in urgent need of food, water, shelter, and medical aid. The UN body, however, said humanitarian aid missions to Bosso were suspended for security reasons.
Nigeria-based Boko Haram has so far claimed responsibility for a number of deadly shooting attacks and bombings in various parts of the African country as well as neighboring states since the beginning of its militancy in 2009.
The attacks have claimed the lives of 20,000 people and displaced more than 2.6 million others in Nigeria.