France joins hunt for killers of aid workers in Niger
Soldiers from France and Niger combed a giraffe reserve and surrounding areas on Monday for signs of the gunmen who killed over 8 aid workers including some French citizens along with their local guide and driver, a French military source said.
Reuters had reported that Attackers on motorbikes ambushed the group on Sunday while driving through the reserve, a popular destination for expatriates 65 km (40 miles) from Niger’s capital Niamey in an area considered safe by the government.
Former colonial power France and other countries have warned people against travelling to parts of Niger where militants including Boko Haram and an affiliate of Islamic State operate in rural areas much further from the capital than the reserve.
“Military operations are ongoing today,” including the use of air support, the source said.
France has 5,100 troops deployed in the arid region south of the Sahara desert, and the United States also has soldiers based in Niger. Nonetheless, militant violence has been on the rise.
AFP also reported that France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation on Monday into “murder in connection with terrorism” the that included six French citizens.