NIAMEY (Somaliguardian) –Unidentified gunmen on motorcycles killed six French aid workers, a Nigerien guide and a driver in a wildlife park in Niger, officials said on Sunday.
The French aid workers were attacked in a giraffe reserve about 65 km from the West African country’s capital Niamey, the governor of Tillaberi region, Jidjani Ibrahim Katiella, told Reuters. “They were intercepted and killed,” he said.
The group worked for an international aid organization, Niger’s Defense Minister Issoufou Katambe told media. Offials had earlier described them as tourists.
But hours after the attack, a spokesman for the French humanitarian aid group ACTED said its staff members were involved.
No group immediately said it was behind the assault. But France and other countries have warned people against traveling to parts of Niger where militants including Boko Haram operate.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s office confirmed that French nationals had been killed in Niger. The statement said Marcon spoke on the phone with Niger’s president Mahamoudou Issoufou, but provided no further details.
An 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.
France’s TF1 television channel broadcast images that it said were taken from the scene showing the burnt-out remains of a 4×4 vehicle with bullet holes in the side.
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.