Eight people, including six French nationals, have been killed in an attack in Niger’s southern region of Koure, according to reports citing local sources.
“There are eight dead: two Nigeriens including a guide and a driver, while the other six are French,” Tidjani Ibrahim Katiella, the governor of the southwest Tillaberi Region, was quoted as saying by AFP news agency on Sunday.
“We are managing the situation, we will give more information later,” the governor said, without indicating who was behind the attack.
A source close to the environmental services said the assault took place around 11:30am (10:30 GMT) six kilometres (four miles) east of the town of Koure, where a wildlife park hosting the last herd of the so-called West African giraffes is located. Koure is about 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.
“We do not know the identity of the attackers but they came on motorcycles through the bush and waited for the arrival of the tourists.”
Later on Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron’s office confirmed French nationals had been killed in Niger, without providing any additional details. It said Macron spoke on the phone with Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou.
Earlier, a spokesperson for France’s foreign ministry said it was making checks following the reports over the killing of the French nationals.
Fighters with links to al-Qaeda and the ISIL (ISIS) group have increasingly mounted attacks across West Africa’s Sahel region in recent years despite the presence of thousands of regional and foreign troops.
The violence has hit Mali and Burkina Faso the hardest, rendering large swaths of those countries ungovernable, but it has also spilled into Niger, which shares long and porous borders with its two neighbours.
Al Jazeera and news agencies
News Source : Al Jazeera English