It was the fourth attack in Togo since last year as the West African country, Benin, Ghana and Ivory Coast all face a growing threat from militants in the Sahel, which is north of their borders.

Togo's army said the gunmen carried out
Togo's army said the gunmen carried out "coordinated and complex" raids on several villages in the area. (AFP Archive)

Several people have been killed and others wounded when gunmen attacked four villages earlier this week in Togo's far north, where a militant insurgency is spilling over the border from Burkina Faso.

"In the night between July 14 and 15, gunmen attacked the population as they slept in four locations in Kpendjal and Kpendjal-Ouest prefectures and killed several people, all civilians," the government said in a statement on Saturday.

"This attack caused several deaths and a few injuries which were quickly taken care of by the first elements of the Togolese Armed Forces who arrived," the army said in a statement.

Togo's government had already reported the attack but had not given details on casualties. But Togolese media reports said 10 to 15 people died.

READ MORE: Many teenagers killed in ‘mistaken’ Togo air strike

Militant campaigns

In neighbouring Benin, the government has said the country has suffered around 20 attacks by armed groups, in the first official tally released in May.

Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast among them have borders with Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, where militant campaigns by Daesh or al-Qaeda affiliates have claimed thousands of lives and driven more than two million people from their homes.

Benin's first known fatal attack was last December, when two soldiers were killed near the troubled frontier with Burkina.

Togo has declared a state of emergency in its far northern provinces to allow security forces more flexibility to operate.

Eight Togolese soldiers were killed in May in an assault claimed by a Mali-based alliance of Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants.

Gunmen also clashed with Togo troops outside a military post in Goulingoushi area in Togo's far northwest in June, before they were forced back across the border.

READ MORE: Togo declares state of emergency after attack in Savannah region

Source: TRTWorld and agencies