Niger's government spokesman told The Associated Press that the jihadists who attacked a military installation in the town of Agadez on Thursday had never taken any hostages, unlike their earlier statements.

Spokesman Morou Amadou said the government had mistakenly thought the suicide bombers had kidnapped their soldiers because the attackers who survived the initial explosion ran away and holed themselves up inside a dormitory on the base.

Amadou said the two jihadists were killed in the ensuing standoff. "They were shooting at us from the dormitory so we thought they were holding hostages," he said.

He also confirmed in a telephone interview Friday that French forces had helped Niger during the standoff, flying into Agadez after the Thursday morning suicide attack on the military base, which killed 20 soldiers.