French President Emmanuel Macron, on Tuesday, announced that the security of his compatriots would be reinforced in the Sahel, two days after the death of six of French citizens in Niger.“I have decided to strengthen security measures for our nationals in the region. We are continuing the action to eradicate terrorist groups with the reinforced support of our partners,” he said in a tweet, without giving details of the measures that should be put in place.
Sunday morning, August 9, two Nigeriens and six French expatriates, including employees of the NGO Acted were shot dead by armed men who came on motorcycles in Koure, south-east of Niamey. Responsibility for the attack has not yet been claimed, but Macron calls it “clearly terrorist.”
“We are doing everything we can to support the families of the victims and respond to the attack that claimed the lives of six of our compatriots and two Nigerien citizens. Members of the NGO Acted, these six young people testified to a remarkable commitment to the populations,” Mr. Macron said in a second message posted at the end of the Defense Council which he chaired by videoconference from the fort of Brgançon, where he is on holiday.
The Nigerien interior ministry assured that an investigation and search operations “are underway to find the perpetrators of these despicable acts and to strengthen security in the area.” The Nigerien army crisscrossed the crime zone, a vast wooded area, overflown by French fighter jets.
Forensic officers took samples next to firefighters who were about to remove the bodies, AFP noted on the crime scene.
France is militarily engaged in the Sahel with some 5,100 troops deployed as part of the Barkhane Force. It supports the African countries of the G5 Sahel, of which Niger is a member, to fight terrorist groups.
In recent months, the joint forces have stepped up offensives in the region, in particular in the so-called “Three Borders” area between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
Before the attack in Niger, unidentified individuals opened fire on Friday in eastern Burkina Faso on populations monitoring a cattle market. About 20 people were killed and many others wounded, according to the governor of the region, Colonel Saidou Sanou.