Benin’s military said it foiled a “terrorist” attack in the northwest of the country, killing eight gunmen believed to be operating from neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
Security forces have faced more than a dozen militant incursions since last year, as concerns grow over the southward spread of violence from the Sahel linked to the Islamic State group and the al-Qaeda.
In the early hours of Wednesday, “terrorists attempted to infiltrate Materi [town] …where they planned to launch a complex attack,” military spokesman Ebenezer Honfoga said.
The gunmen were ambushed at a “security facility” and detonated an improvised explosive device they were about to set up, he added in a statement released on Wednesday.
They then “attempted to attack the position of the Beninese armed forces which was in the area” but faced reprisals.
“At least eight terrorists were killed” and important equipment was recovered, added the official, without giving further details.
Benin has suffered attacks from troops defending against Islamist militants from Burkina Faso and Niger, but criminal gangs and smugglers also operate in the region.
The Beninese government admitted in May that the north of the country had been the target of around 20 attacks by armed groups, without however using the word “jihadists”.