Atleast six French aid workers, their Nigerien guide and driver were killed when gunmen attacked a wildlife park in Niger Republic.
The group, described as tourists, was attacked in a giraffe reserve just 65 kilometers away from the West African country’s capital Niamey.
According to government officials, the six were staff of an international aid group, Niger’s Defence Minister Issoufou Katambé.
Confirming the attack, the governor of Tillaberi region, Tidjani Ibrahim Katiella, said: “They were intercepted and killed”.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the assault. But France and other countries have warned people against travelling to parts of Niger where militants including Boko Haram and an affiliate of Islamic State operate.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s office confirmed that French nationals had been killed in Niger. It said Macron spoke on the phone with Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou, but provided no further details.
The Association of Koure Giraffe Reserve Guides issued a statement describing the attackers as a “unit of terrorists” and saying the dead included its president, Kadri Abdou.
As gathered, the reserve southeast of the capital is a popular attraction in Niger, a huge country that borders seven states in an unstable region including Libya, Mali, Chad, Algeria, and Nigeria.
Militants linked to Islamic State killed four U.S. soldiers in an ambush in Niger near the border with Mali in Oct. 2017, an attack that increased scrutiny of U.S. counter-terrorism operations there.
France, a former colonial power in the region, also launched a coalition of West African and European allies in June to fight Islamist militants in the Sahel region that includes Niger.
It has deployed thousands of troops in the arid region south of the Sahara desert since 2013. But militant violence has been on the rise.