Isis claims murder of French aid workers and their guides in Niger

Six NGO staff and two local guides were ambushed in a nature reserve in August

The Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility for the murder of six French aid workers and their two local guides while they were visiting a nature reserve in the west African country of Niger.

The six French humanitarian workers, aged between 25 and 30, their guide and their driver were killed on 9 August in the Kouré national park, a wildlife haven 37 miles (60km) from Niger’s capital, Niamey.

In a statement, issued in the Isis publication al-Naba and authenticated by the US monitoring group SITE, the terrorist group said that the eight had been killed following their capture in a “blitz attack”.

It claimed that the attack was considered “a major security lapse” for France, which has a 5,100-strong force deployed in the Sahel region of west Africa to fight militant groups.

French anti-terrorism prosecutors have already said that the attack appeared to be a “premeditated” strike against westerners, while it was unclear whether the French aid workers and their NGO, the relief organisation Acted, were specifically targeted.

The nature reserve, which is famous for its giraffes, is a popular destination for weekend leisure trips by Niamey residents, including foreigners.

Attackers on motorbikes ambushed the group as they drove through the reserve, which is in an area considered safe by Niger’s government.

Images broadcast on France’s TF1 television channel showed the torched remains of a 4x4 vehicle peppered with bulletholes.

French investigators were sent to Niger after anti-terrorism prosecutors in Paris announced they had opened an inquiry.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has described the killings as “manifestly a terrorist attack” and said there would be repercussions.

Jihadist attacks have proliferated in the volatile south-western Tillaberi region of Niger, close to the borders of Mali and Burkina Faso. Islamic State is among numerous terrorist actors at large in the Sahel region, killing thousands of people and displacing millions in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Staff and agencies in Paris

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Militant crackdown in Sahel leads to hundreds of civilian deaths – report
Amnesty records 200 state killings and forced disappearances in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, state members of internationally-backed G5 group

Kaamil Ahmed

12, Jun, 2020 @1:27 PM

Article image
US special forces deaths in Niger lift veil on shadow war against Islamists in Sahel
Four American forces died in an attack blamed on a group led by Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui, one of several extremist factions in the vast semi-desert area

Jason Burke Africa correspondent

15, Oct, 2017 @8:00 AM

Article image
Why are French soldiers in the Sahel? Protesters have an answer | Alexandra Reza
Macron’s autocratic attitude towards dissent in countries such as Niger and Mali is only stoking anti-French sentiment, says Alexandra Reza, research fellow at Trinity College, Oxford

Alexandra Reza

20, Feb, 2020 @6:13 PM

Article image
More than 70 soldiers feared killed in ambush in Niger
Islamist extremists suspected of attack that underlines growing insecurity in region

Jason Burke Africa correspondent

11, Dec, 2019 @9:24 PM

Article image
A swarm of motorbikes, then heavy fire: witnesses shed new light on Niger attack
According to locals, ambushed US special forces faced overwhelming, sustained attack from militants – and Nigerien authorities failed to react when alerted

Ruth Maclean in Tillabéri

15, Nov, 2017 @8:24 PM

Article image
Sahel locust invasion threatens crops in Niger and Mali
Infestations of locusts could destroy farmers' efforts to replenish food stocks in the Sahel, an area suffering drought and hunger

Celeste Hicks

11, Jun, 2012 @11:30 AM

Article image
Niger offers hope of homegrown solutions to Sahel crises | Celeste Hicks

Agencies must combine forces to overcome the effects of a trio of food crises in the Sahel, the WFP's regional head tells Celeste Hicks

Celeste Hicks

09, May, 2013 @11:40 AM

Niger seeks funds for Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens agriculture initiative

Government wants cash – and ideas – to increase food security through diverse seeds, milk transfers and better land use

Liz Ford in Brussels

13, Nov, 2012 @11:07 AM

Article image
US special forces 'fought Niger ambush alone after local troops fled'
Email from retired officer also says soldiers tried to convince French warplanes to engage in incident in which four US soldiers died

Jason Burke Africa correspondent and Julian Borger in Washington

04, Nov, 2017 @9:00 AM

Article image
New terrorist threat as EU stance on migrants triggers disquiet in Niger
Efforts to buttress Europe’s borders have left people smugglers in Niger jobless and ripe for exploitation by jihadist groups

Ruth Maclean and Omar Hama Saley in Agadez

27, Jun, 2018 @12:58 PM