Dozens feared dead after abandoned in Niger desert

Migrants crossing the Sahara desert into Libya ride on the back of a pick-up truck outside Agadez [File: Joe Penney/Reuters]
Dozens of people are feared dead after human traffickers abandoned them in Niger’s northern desert without food or water, a senior local official said on Monday.

Fatoumi Boudou, the prefect of Niger’s northern region of Bilma, told the AFP news agency that authorities on Sunday rescued 24 people who were part of a group of “70 people who had left in three vehicles from Agadez for Libya”.

Agadez is a remote town in Niger on the edge of the Sahara desert that has become a major people-smuggling point.

The traffickers “abandoned them in the middle of the desert without food or water”, Boudou said, adding that those rescued had spoken of several dead bodies without specifying a number.

But the Agadez-based Air Info website, citing a security source, said scores of bodies had been buried on Sunday by troops and locals.

A local radio station had said 52 dead bodies had been discovered by authorities on Sunday.

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