Niamey (AFP) – Eight civilians were killed during a night attack by Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram on the camp of French drilling company Foraco in southeastern Niger, near the border with Nigeria.
The attack occurred on the night of Wednesday to Thursday. “At 2 am, a group of terrorists attacked the building where a team of Foraco drillers and technicians was resting in the village of Toumour (Diffa region),” the company said in a statement. “The attackers opened fire on the sleeping staff.”
Seven of the victims killed in their sleep were Nigerian employees of the French company, which carries out drilling on site to supply water to a refugee camp. The eighth was an official of the Nigerian Ministry of Hydraulics.
Five others were wounded, two seriously injured in the attack on this building, chosen according to Foraco in agreement with the Nigerian Armed Forces in charge of personnel protection. The Diffa region has been the attacker’s target years of the Boko Haram-born jihadist group in Nigeria before expanding into the region.
The funeral of seven of the victims took place Thursday, in the presence of the governor of Diffa, Mahamadou Bakabé.
“One of Boko Haram’s elements is also dead,” said the governor, adding that the “attackers took away two Foraco vehicles, one of which was found burned by these savages en route”.
“We are here on behalf of President Mahamadou Issoufou to bow to the remains of these brave and brave Nigerians who gave their lives for the commune of Toumour,” said the governor, reporting seven wounded.
In Paris, the Quai d’Orsay strongly condemned this attack, stating that “there are no French among the victims according to the information we have at this stage”.
– military in the round –
“About fifteen employees were present on the spot, protected by about fifteen soldiers gone to make a round around at the time of the attack”, explained to the AFP the director Europe / Middle East of Foraco Thierry Merle.
“We had never encountered a similar problem before, we know that Boko Haram is present in the region but to date we have had no claim, we have not received any particular threat.”
The assailants also “looted several shops” and “took away food,” a resident of Diffa told AFP.
– horse attack –
Local radio Saraounia FM said that “the attackers had come on horseback” before fleeing “to Nigeria” nearby.
The attack comes after several months of calm in the region of Diffa, scene of numerous attacks of Boko Haram between February 2015 and the beginning of the year. By mid-January, at least five Nigerian soldiers had been killed near the same commune of Toumour.
In late April, Niamey announced a major regional military operation in the Lake Chad Basin (common in Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon) to rid the area of Boko Haram “residues”. Nigerian Defense Minister Kalla Moutari, however, felt that even “totally weakened” Boko Haram continued to represent “a real threat”.
The authorities have renewed the state of emergency imposed in the region of 2016 because of the persistence of “insecurity”.
The Nigerian region of Diffa is home to some 300,000 refugees and displaced due to Boko Haram attacks, according to NGOs.
Security sources, members or supporters of Boko Haram live in camps informing the group about the presence of security forces.
Listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and present in 22 countries, Foraco, which claims to be the world’s third-largest driller, was working in this context to carry out “two deep-boreholes in the vicinity of the Toumour refugee camp to better living conditions for displaced people in this semi-desert and arid zone “.
Last Saturday, the government regretted in parliament the suspension “because of insecurity” of construction work on a road to connect Niger to Chad.