NIAMEY (Reuters) - Thirty-four migrants, including 20 children, have been found dead in Niger's vast desert after being abandoned by their smuggler, the government of the West African nation said in a statement read on national television on Wednesday.

Agadez in the landlocked country's arid north is a popular waystation for migrants attempting to traverse the Sahara Desert and reach Libya and eventually Europe.

Of the adult migrants, nine were women and five were men. They died between June 6-12, Interior Minister Bazoum Mohammed said, adding that President Mahamadou Issoufou expressed his condolences to their families.

Two victims had been identified as citizens of neighboring Nigeria, Mohammed said. It was not immediately clear what the nationalities of the other victims were.

The International Organisation for Migration estimates that 120,000 people crossed through Agadez last year. IOM recorded 37 migrants died in the desert last year.

(Reporting by Boureima Balima; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Sandra Maler)