Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 30 September 2020

Six French nationals and two guides killed in Niger

French and Nigerien companions killed in attack at giraffe park on Sunday

President Macron and the leaders of the G5 Sahel group lay a wreath in memory of French soldiers killed in a helicopter collision last year. AFP
President Macron and the leaders of the G5 Sahel group lay a wreath in memory of French soldiers killed in a helicopter collision last year. AFP

Six French aid workers and two Nigerien guides were killed in an attack while visiting a wildlife park east of Niger’s capital early on Sunday, authorities from both countries said.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his condolences and support for the victims’ families.

Mr Macron spoke to Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou on Sunday evening and both said that “all means are and will be used to clarify the circumstances of the deadly attack", they said.

The attack took place at a giraffe reserve in Koure, Oumarou Moussa, adviser to Niger’s Interior Minister, told AP.

The area is a protected national park with dense vegetation and tall trees about 70 kilometres south-east of the capital Niamey.

Hundreds of people visit each year to see the giraffes.

The killings took place in the Tillaberi region, where ISIS-linked militants are active.

Gunmen on motorcycles killed the eight people, a senior official said.

Mr Macron and Mr Issoufou are determined to “continue the fight against terrorist groups” in Africa’s Sahel region.

France and other Sahel countries met at the end of June to discuss how to end an eight-year extremist insurgency that has swept the region.

Mr Macron said there had been "spectacular results”, after a summit in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott to review the strategy after six months.

"We are convinced that victory is possible in the Sahel, and that it is decisive for stability in Africa and Europe," he said.

Mr Macron hosted a summit in January to help secure a stronger public commitment from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger at a time of deepening concern in France after it lost 13 troops in a helicopter crash.

The insurgency began in northern Mali in 2012 during a rebellion by Tuareg separatists that was later overtaken by the extremists.

Despite thousands of UN and French troops being stationed in the Sahel, the conflict spread to central Mali, neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, stirring feuds between ethnic groups and bringing fears for states farther south.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed, hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes and the economies of the three countries, already among the poorest in the world, have been badly damaged.

Updated: August 10, 2020 04:15 AM

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