Gunmen kill six French tourists, two Nigerians in Niger

The attackers struck in a giraffe reserve in the West African country's Kouré area. File photo
The attackers struck in a giraffe reserve in the West African country's Kouré area. File photo
Image: 123RF/vencavolrab78

Gunmen on motorcycles killed six French tourists and two Nigerians in a wildlife park in Niger on Sunday, a senior official said.

The attackers struck in a giraffe reserve in the West African country's Kouré area, the governor of Tillaberi, Tidjani Ibrahim Katiella, told Reuters.

The two Nigerians were working as the tourists' guide and driver, AFP news agency reported.

The French foreign ministry said it was making checks into reports of the attack. There was no immediate comment from the government in Niger.

The French government warns people against travelling to large parts of Niger where militant groups including Boko Haram and affiliates of Islamic State operate.

The Koure Giraffe Reserve southeast of the capital Niamey is a popular attraction in Niger, a huge country that borders seven countries in an unstable region including Libya, Mali, Chad and Nigeria.

Militants linked to Islamic State killed four U.S. soldiers in an ambush in Niger in Oct. 2017, an attack that increased scrutiny of the U.S. counter-terrorism operations there.

France, a former colonial power in the region, also launched a coalition of West African and European allies in June to fight Islamist militants in the Sahel region that includes Niger.

It has deployed thousands of troops in the arid region south of the Sahara desert since 2013. But violence by groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State has been on the rise. 

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