PARIS, France (AFP) — The Islamic State extremist group on Thursday claimed the killing in August of six French aid workers and their two local guides while they were visiting a nature reserve in the West African country of Niger.
The six French humanitarian workers, aged between 25 and 30, their guide and their driver were killed on August 9 in the Koure National Park, a wildlife haven 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Niger’s capital Niamey.
The statement, issued in the Islamic State publication al-Naba and authenticated by US monitoring group SITE, said that the eight had been killed following their capture in a “blitz attack.”
It claimed that the attack was considered “a major security lapse” for France, which has a 5,100 strong force deployed in the Sahel region of West Africa to fight militant groups.
French anti-terror prosecutors have already said that the attack appeared to be a “premeditated” strike against Westerners while it was unclear if the French aid workers and their NGO Acted were specifically targeted.
The area, which is famous for its giraffes, is a popular a destination for weekend leisure trips by Niamey residents, including foreigners.
French investigators have been sent to Niger to carry out the probe.
French President Emmanuel Macron has described the killings as “manifestly a terrorist attack” and said there would be repercussions.