Suspected Islamic militants attacked a Nigerien military base in a two-pronged assault on Thursday that left at least 25 soldiers dead. Government forces killed 63 jihadists and destroyed several motorcycles. 

The attack took place in the town of Chinagodrar, which sits seven miles from Niger’s border with Mali.

Although no one has taken responsibility for this latest attack in the region, the Nigerien authorities believe that it is the work of the same Islamic State jihadist group that attacked Inates, about 112 miles west, where 71 Niger soldiers were killed in a December attack

The attack in Niger’s Tillaberi region came from two directions at approximately12:00 p.m. local time. The jihadists rode heavily armed vehicles that came from west of Chinagodrar, while “several dozen motorcycles” came from the Ikrafane forest east of the base.

The Nigerien Defense Ministry said that “the response with the combined air support of the Niger air force and partners made it possible to carry out strikes and rout the enemy outside our borders.” They added that government forces were conducting clearing operations and pushing the jihadists back. 

Radio France International (RFI) filed a report stating that a combination of French and American airstrikes helped turn the tide. According to the report, French Mirage 2000 jets were over the target area in 15 minutes while U.S drones hit the vehicular convoy with one strike and the motorcycle convoy with another. However, AFRICOM has reported that the United States conducted no airstrikes in either Niger or Mali.

As part of the counter-terrorist Operation Barkhane in the Sahel, the French operate three armed Reaper drones as well as four Mirage 2000-D fighter jets in Niamey, the capital of Niger which is almost 140 miles away. The United States also has an airbase (101) in Niamey and another (Nigerien AB 201) in Agadez. The CIA operates its own airbase for drones. 

Back in November, French President Emmanuel Macron said that France was “confirming and consolidating its commitment” to the G5 Sahel region that consists of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Niger, and Mali. Macron’s plan is to revamp the G5 Sahel Joint Force (FCG5S) as well as beef up its Special Operations component.