Is this a case of mistaken identity or could they be considered as victims of the military's all out war against terror?

Fourteen unarmed farmers thought to be members of the Boko Haram terrorist group have been killed by troops battling to contain Boko Haram activities along the Niger Republic-Nigeria border.

Officials said 12 of the dead farmers were from Nigeria while the other 2 were from Niger.

The troops conducting routine patrol in the remote south of Niger when the incident occurred on Thursday.

According to the Secretary-General of the Diffa region of southeast Niger, Yahaya Godi, Nigerien soldiers were patrolling a militarily restricted zone around the village of Abadam near Lake Chad when they opened fire on the suspected terrorists.

Godi said: “14 people are dead. Abadam is a village located in the red zone and has been prohibited for a very long time.

“Any individual seen in the area is considered Boko Haram”.

Boko Haram have their stronghold in northeast Nigeria sometimes carry out cross-border attacks into Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

Reuters reports that it was not immediately clear why the civilians were in the restricted area and what made the soldiers open fire.

Nigerien army officials were not reachable for comment.

The incident occurred three days after suspected Boko Haram militants killed 9 people and abducted dozens more in southern Niger.