Soldiers from the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) secure a ceremony honouring four soldiers killed in the violence that erupted in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon, where most of the country’s English-speaking minority live, on November 17, 2017 in Bamenda. Four soldiers were killed this month in less than a week, in attacks attributed to secessionist “terrorists”. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER/Getty Images

Paris prosecutor’s office on Monday launched an anti-terrorism investigation into an attack which targeted French nationals in Niger, state-run France info radio reported.

The probe was opened for “assassination in relation to a terrorist undertaking” and “terrorist criminal association.” It was entrusted to the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI) and anti-terrorist sub-directorate (SDAT).

In a statement released on Sunday evening, French President Emmanuel Macron’s office announced that “a cowardly (attack) hit a group of aid workers” near Niger’s capital Niamey, without giving the exact number of the victims.

According to media reports, the gunmen opened fire against a vehicle in a wildlife park in the Koure region. All the passengers on board, six French nationals and two Nigeriens, were killed in the attack.

The Elysee added that French president will preside over a defense council on Tuesday morning to elucidate the circumstances of the assault.

“All means are and will be used to clarify the circumstances of the deadly attack,” Macron said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the shooting.

Some 5,000 French troops started Barkhane Operation in 2014 in Sahel to help G5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) maintain control of their territory while also preventing the region from becoming a safe-haven for extremist groups.

However, security in the region continued to worsen with a series of deadly strikes staged by extremist militants and the humanitarian situation deteriorated, notably characterized by the impact of forced displacement, extreme poverty, social inequalities and violence, including sexual and gender-based violence.

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