PARIS (Reuters) – French Prime Minister Jean Castex paid tribute on Friday to the six French aid workers who where killed by a group of gunmen on motorcycles in Niger, likening the attack to the 2015 militant attacks in Paris that shook the country.
The six worked for international aid group ACTED and were accompanied by a Nigerien guide and a driver, who were also killed during the ambush on Sunday.
“It’s very likely the same hatred, the same cowardice, the same inhumanity that was at work in Niger and at the Bataclan,” Castex said in front of the repatriated coffins of the six at Paris’s Orly airport. The Bataclan was the concert venue where 90 people were killed in one of the coordinated attacks by Islamist militants in the French capital in 2015.
“We haven’t yet been able to put a name to the organization behind this heinous crime” in Niger, he said, adding that it had “all the appearances of a terrorist attack.”
The aid workers were driving through a giraffe reserve, a popular destination for expatriates 65 km (40 miles) from Niger’s capital Niamey in an area considered safe by the government.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the assault. But 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.
France’s counter-terrorism prosecutor has opened a murder investigation in the case.
(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; editing by Jonathan Oatis)