Saturday, June 19

8 Dead After Attack in a Wildlife Reserve in Niger

DAKAR, Senegal — Gunmen killed eight people on Sunday at a wildlife reserve in Niger, including six French humanitarian workers, their Nigerien driver and a guide, according to authorities.

The group had traveled to Kouré reserve in an area known as the Giraffe Zone, home to the only remaining population of West African giraffes. But they had been there for less than an hour when they were shot, their car set aflame and their bodies left in the sand.

“It was horrific. We couldn’t even look at the bodies,” said Djibo Hama, a spokesman for the Association of Kouré’s Giraffe Guides, who saw the aftermath of the attack. “They had been brutally shot with bullets, but also flamethrowers had charred the car and some of the people. It was terrifying to see them lying on the ground in their own blood.”

Some areas of Mali have been rocked by terrorist attacks in recent years, as have several neighboring West African countries. But the Giraffe Zone has been widely considered safe. The visitors were French humanitarian workers, said the authorities.

“Investigations are underway,” Abdourahamane Zakaria, a government spokesman, said in a written message confirming the attack. A senior police officer said that he was coordinating the recovery of their bodies.

Six French expatriates, a guide and a driver passed through a government checkpoint at 10 a.m. on Sunday in the direction of Dosso, a town 85 miles southeast of Niamey, the capital, according to an internal message from the Nigerien military seen by The New York Times. Forty minutes later, the message said, people on a bus coming from Dosso informed staff at the checkpoint that an attack had taken place four miles back.

One of those killed was Kadri Abdou, the president of the Association of Kouré’s Giraffe gGuides, according to an announcement posted on Facebook.

“Kadri, along with a group of six French tourists and their Nigerien driver, was attacked and killed by a terrorist commando in the giraffe zone,” it read. “We are distressed and are thinking of the victims and their families, to whom we offer our most sincere condolences — especially the family of Kadri, our friend.”

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