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Seven election officials killed in landmine blast as Niger votes

The incident comes as Niger holds a presidential election runoff between frontrunner Mohamed Bazoum and former President Mahamane Ousmane.

Seven members of Niger’s electoral fee (CENI) have been killed in the course of the nation’s presidential election runoff when their car hit a mine and exploded in the troubled western area of Tillaberi.

The nation commonly suffers assaults by armed teams and had elevated to guard Sunday’s ballot, in which the governing occasion candidate, Mohamed Bazoum, is going through former President Mahamane Ousmane.

A car belonging to CENI and carrying election staff to their polling stations hit a mine in the agricultural commune of Dargol in the southwest, mentioned Harouna Mounkaila, vice chairman of the fee’s native department.

“They were leaving to drop off the ballot boxes and the members of the polling station,” Moukaila informed Reuters news company, including that three different staff had been significantly wounded.

Tillaberi is in the tri-border space of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali the place armed teams linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) have strengthened their foothold, launching frequent assaults and making swathes of the western portion of the Sahel ungovernable.

The area’s authorities confirmed the demise toll following Sunday’s explosion.

“I had the news around midday [11:00 GMT] that there were seven killed when the vehicle blew up on a mine,” Tidjani Ibrahim Katiella informed AFP news company.

“They are the heads of polling stations and their secretaries” recruited by the fee, Katiella added.

Thousands of troopers had been deployed nationwide for the vote, set to usher in a peaceable handover between elected presidents, a primary since Niger’s independence from France in 1960.

Outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou’s choice to voluntarily step down after two five-year phrases was welcomed in a area the place many leaders have tried to cling to energy.

“I’m proud to be the first democratically elected president in our history to be able to pass the baton to another democratically elected president,” Issoufou mentioned as he voted at metropolis corridor in the capital, Niamey.

Sixty-one-year-old Bazoum, Issoufou’s right-hand man and anointed inheritor, is extensively seen as the favorite after securing 39.3 p.c of ballots in the primary spherical of voting on December 27. Ousmane, 71 – who grew to become the nation’s first democratically elected president in 1993, solely to be toppled in a coup three years later – had garnered 16.9 p.c.

Polling stations had been scheduled to shut at 7pm (18:00 GMT).

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