Abidjan – Eight people, six French and two Nigeriens, were killed on Sunday by armed men who came on motorbikes in the Kouré area in Niger, which is home to the last herds of West African giraffes, we learned official source.
Paris confirmed that the French had perished, without giving the number.
Emmanuel Macron spoke on the phone with his Nigerian counterpart, Mahamadou Issoufou, the French presidency further clarified.
The Nigerien army crisscrossed the crime zone, a vast wooded region, overflown by French fighter planes. Forensic officers are taking samples, alongside firefighters who are preparing to remove the bodies as night falls on the locality, according to the AFP correspondent on the spot.
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“The attack took place around 11:30 am (10:30 am GMT) 6 km east of the town of Kouré“which is an hour’s drive from Niamey on national road number 1,” a source close to the environment services told AFP.
“Most of the victims were shot dead and a woman who managed to escape was caught and slaughtered. On site, we found a magazine emptied of its cartridges“, noted this source.”We do not know the identity of the attackers but they came by motorbike through the bush and waited for the arrival of the tourists. The vehicle borrowed by tourists belongs to the NGO Acted“.
This source described to AFP the bodies lying, side by side, near a half-burnt 4X4 vehicle with open doors. Traces of bullets were visible on the rear window of the vehicle. One of the bodies was charred. Others had fatal head injuries.
Previously, the governor of Tillabéri (southwest), Tidjani Ibrahim Katiella, had announced that he “eight dead: two Nigeriens including a (tourist) guide and a driver, the other six are French“.
“We are managing the situation, we will give more information later“, declared the governor who did not give details on the circumstances of the attack, nor on the identity of the attackers.
This is the first attack that has targeted Westerners in this area, since it became a tourist attraction some 20 years ago, when a small herd of giraffes peralta, a species that has disappeared from the rest of the planet, fleeing from poachers and predators, had found a haven of peace there.
The Tillabéri region is a large unstable area. It is located in the “three borders“between Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali, which has become a haunt for Sahelian jihadists, including the Islamic State in the Great Sahara (EIGS).
Motorcycles have been banned day and night since January in an attempt to prevent the movement of jihadists.
On January 8, 2011, two young French people, Antoine De Léocour and Vincent Delory, kidnapped the day before in the center of Niamey, were killed in Malian territory during a Franco-Nigerian military intervention intended to rescue them.
According to expert reports on the bodies revealed in February 2012, Vincent Delory was burnt to death in the fire of the vehicle transporting him, while Antoine de Léocour was executed by his captors.
On November 24, 2011, two French people were kidnapped from their hotel in Hombori (north). In early December, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi) claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.