Macron and Castex speak out against “heinous crime” in Niger

NIGER – An “atrocious crime” that will not go “unpunished”: the French executive raised the tone on Tuesday, August 11, after the death of six young French humanitarians on Sunday in an attack in Niger, Emmanuel Macron announcing that Se it will improve security.

“I have decided to strengthen the security measures of our nationals in the region,” declared the Head of State at the end of a defense council that he chaired by videoconference from Fort Brégançon, in Bormes-les-Mimosas in the Var, where he is on vacation .

He did not give details about the measures that should be implemented, in particular by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The attack took place in the only area classified as “yellow” – where it is possible to travel by tourists – in this country ravaged by the increasing violence of Sahelian jihadist groups. According to the head of state, the attack was “clearly terrorist.”

“We are doing everything possible to support the families of the victims and respond to the attack that killed six of our compatriots and two Nigerians,” Emmanuel Macron also assured. “Members of the NGO Actuada, these six young people demonstrated a remarkable commitment to the populations,” he added.

On Monday, another French humanitarian, Benoît Maria, director of the NGO Agronomos y Veterinario sin Fronteras (AVSF), was killed in an armed attack in Guatemala. In a tweet, President Macron praised the “humanistic, fraternal, solidarity commitment that honors France” of this 55-year-old agricultural engineer, “cowardly murdered.”

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In Niger, seven people (including six French women) working for the NGO Acted (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development) were killed on Sunday with their Nigerian guide by gunmen in Kouré, 60 kilometers to the south. east of Niamey, during a sightseeing excursion.

Some 5,100 French soldiers are deployed in the Sahel as part of the Barkhane force to fight armed jihadist groups, in support of the armies of the five countries in the region, including Niger.

The defense council examined “the military consequences” and “all the (French) devices in the region,” Emmanuel Macron said. “We are carrying out actions to eradicate terrorist groups with the reinforced support of our partners,” said the Head of State.

He acted suspends his activities

Prime Minister Jean Castex also warned, during a trip to Montpellier on Tuesday, that “France will ensure that this heinous crime against our compatriots does not go unpunished.” He denounced an “attack of extreme violence and cowardice difficult to describe.”

The attack, according to the head of the French government, “marked more strongly our awareness that the victims are civilians, young people, committed to humanitarian matters, who work at the service of others in a spirit of cooperation. and proximity to the inhabitants of this country ”.

The former socialist candidate Benoît Hamon paid tribute in a tweet to one of the victims, who “was committed to (her) side during the presidential elections” and whose “convictions led her to persecute her participation in humanitarian action in Niger”, where she was “Killed by lawless terrorists.”

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A team of 11 specialized French investigators flew to Niger on Tuesday as part of a request for international assistance accepted by Nigerian authorities, police and judicial sources told AFP. It is made up of six investigators from the DGSI (General Directorate of Internal Security) and another two from the Antiterrorist Subdirectorate, accompanied by three members of the technical scientific police.

The French national antiterrorist prosecution announced on Monday that it had opened an investigation, in particular for “murders in connection with a terrorist company”.

Acted has announced that it is temporarily suspending its activities in Niger. “We need to listen to our humanitarian workers in Niger and in the Sahel countries, we need them to talk to each other and to talk to us and we are going to send a delegation from headquarters,” said its president Frédéric de Saint-Sernin in RFI.

“But it is not about leaving the country, it is not about leaving the region, we are here to help the beneficiaries,” he added.

See also in The HuffPost: Niger: the director of the NGO “Acted” recounts the attack

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