News

French aid workers among eight killed by gunmen in Niger

August 10, 2020 02:48 PM


Twitter Share Facebook Share WhatsApp Share

Gunmen on motorcycles killed eight people including a group of French aid workers as they visited a part of Niger popular with tourists for its wildlife, officials said. 

"There are eight dead: two Nigeriens including a guide and a driver, while the other six are French," the governor of the Tillaberi region told AFP on Sunday.

France confirmed its nationals were among the dead, without giving a figure. French aid group ACTED said several of its workers were among those killed during a tourist outing. "Among the eight people killed in Niger, several were Acted employees," said the NGO's lawyer Joseph Breham.

It is believed to be the first such attack on Westerners in the area, a popular tourist attraction in the former French colony thanks to its unique population of West African or Niger giraffes. "We are managing the situation, we will give more information later," governor Tidjani Ibrahim Katiella said, without indicating who was behind the attack.

A source close to Niger's environmental services said the assault took place at around 11:30 am (1030 GMT) six kilometres (four miles) east of the town of Koure, which is an hour's drive from the capital Niamey. "Most of the victims were shot... We found a magazine emptied of its cartridges at the scene," the source told AFP.

One woman managed to escape but was later caught and killed, the source added. "We do not know the identity of the attackers but they came on motorcycles through the bush and waited for the arrival" of the group.

The source said the victims' vehicle belonged to ACTED, which was later confirmed by Niger's home ministry.  

'Barbaric act' 

The source also described the scene of the attack, where bodies were laid side-by-side next to a torched vehicle, which had bullet holes in its rear window. The office of French President Emmanuel Macron said he spoke on the phone with his Niger counterpart Mahamadou Issoufou. Both leaders condemned the "cowardly" attack.

In Paris, a spokesman for the French army said France's Barkhane force, which fights jihadists in the Sahel region, had provided support to Niger's forces. An AFP reporter at the scene confirmed that French fighter jets flew overhead later Sunday as Niger's army searched the vast wooded area.

Forensic police were collecting samples ahead of the bodies being moved before night fell, the reporter added. Neighbouring Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita meanwhile strongly condemned the "barbaric act". 

He lamented that "violent extremism" was still rife in the Sahel region "despite the merciless war waged by national armies, the G5 Sahel joint forces and the Barkhane force".

'Not considered dangerous' 

Around 20 years ago, a small herd of West African giraffes, a subspecies distinguished by its lighter colour, found a safe haven from poachers and predators in the Koure area.

Today they number in their hundreds and are a key tourist attraction, enjoying the protection of local people and conservation groups. 

"We all go to Koure on weekend outings because it's very easy to access," a Western humanitarian source based in Niamey told AFP. "Everyone goes there, even ambassadors, diplomats, teachers... it is not considered a dangerous zone at all. There are NGOs protecting giraffes there."

However, the Tillaberi region is in a hugely unstable location, near the borders of Mali and Burkina Faso. The region has become a hideout for Sahel jihadist groups such as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).

The use of motorcycles has been totally banned since January in an attempt to curb the movements of such jihadists.

Numerous Europeans have been abducted or killed in the volatile region. Two young Frenchmen, Antoine De Leocour and Vincent Delory, were killed after being kidnapped by jihadists from a restaurant in Niamey in 2011.



24 HD English WhatsApp Channel QR Code Click or Scan to Subscribe
our WhatsApp Channel

Most Read

  1. Several PIA flights cancelled, delayed at Karachi Airport Several PIA flights cancelled, delayed at Karachi Airport
  2. Female salon owner injured in ‘targeted attack’ in Lahore Female salon owner injured in ‘targeted attack’ in Lahore
  3. Iqrar ul Hassan issues video statement after attacked by Peer Haq Khateeb's followers in Gujranwala Iqrar ul Hassan issues video statement after attacked by Peer Haq Khateeb's followers in Gujranwala
  4. PTI Spokesman Rauf Hassan attacked by transgender people in Islamabad PTI Spokesman Rauf Hassan attacked by transgender people in Islamabad
  5. 'Don’t send paragraphs to man after break up': Ushna Shah offers a girly advice 'Don’t send paragraphs to man after break up': Ushna Shah offers a girly advice
  6. Rakul Preet and Jackky Bhagnani celebrate 3 months of marital bliss Rakul Preet and Jackky Bhagnani celebrate 3 months of marital bliss

Opinion

  1. Hats off to Fatah-II
    Hats off to Fatah-II

    By Naveed Aman Khan

  2. New twist in PTI founder’s strategy towards Military Establishment
    New twist in PTI founder’s strategy towards Military Establishment

    By Salim Bokhari

  3. Revoke the heat stroke
    Revoke the heat stroke

    By Dr Asif Channer

  4. Defiance, sacrifice & national resilience
    Defiance, sacrifice & national resilience

    By Naveed Aman Khan

  5. Maryam Nawaz Sharif's Police Uniform: Breaking Gender Stereotypes, Not Minds
    Maryam Nawaz Sharif's Police Uniform: Breaking Gender Stereotypes, Not Minds

    By Alysha Khan

  6. Pak-Saudi-Iran economic proximity
    Pak-Saudi-Iran economic proximity

    By News Desk