Niger's interior minister says at least four people have died and dozens have been wounded in violent protests against French newspaper Charlie Hebdo's publication of a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

Interior Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou said demonstrators in the town Zinder in southern Niger set a French cultural center ablaze along with two churches in the area.

One security officer was killed in the melee along with three demonstrators. It wasn't immediately clear what caused their deaths. Another 20 security officers and 23 civilians were wounded.

Niger's government has banned the sale of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in the predominantly Muslim country — a former French colony in West Africa.

Other demonstrations against Charlie Hebdo took place in Mali and Senegal.