A security team deployed to respond to the attack “engaged the terrorists and there were an as yet undetermined number of casualties on both sides,” Umar said.
Residents and authorities of Shiroro told The Associated Press that bodies are still being recovered and the death toll remains uncertain due to the remoteness of the area. Niger’s governor’s office said in a separate statement that “many security personnel” lost their lives in the attack.
“Security forces mobilized reinforcements for the manhunt of the remaining terrorists…and the rescue of injured victims, including security personnel who suffered varying degrees of injuries, were taken to a government medical facility in the state for treatment,” the official said of the attack on the state which borders Nigeria’s capital Abuja.
Authorities have not released the name of the company, the latest victim of attacks targeting foreigners over the years in Nigeria, but not as frequent as before. Three Chinese nationals were abducted in a similar attack in Niger state earlier this year while working at a hydroelectric plant.
In November, Chinese authorities issued a travel advisory warning their citizens and businesses against traveling to “high risk” areas of Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
Wednesday’s attack is the latest incident in a cycle of violence that has claimed hundreds of lives over the past year. A growing kidnap-for-ransom syndrome has also seen more victims held captive for months, including dozens abducted in a train attack near the capital in March.
Nigeria’s security situation has deteriorated under President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired military general who became president in 2015. Frequent attacks in northwestern and north-central Nigeria are blamed on armed groups who authorities say are now working with extremist Islamist rebels in the northeast of the country targeting remote communities.