The brutality of the assassinations left little doubt as to the motives of the attackers. More than a month after the assassination, on August 9, of eight people, including six French aid workers in Niger, the Islamic State (IS) organization attributed these murders to its West African branch (Iswap) in its weekly broadcast online, Al-Naba.
The claim, factual and drafted in the form of a brief, evokes a “Lightning strike” which resulted in the death of “Six nationals of crossed France” and two “Nigerian apostates” killed by “Soldiers of the caliphate”. A text which suggests that the IS propaganda body has, a priori, only a vague knowledge of the details of the operation. Which could explain the late nature of this claim. In the week following the attack, Al-Naba had only reported the deaths of aid workers and their supporters. Without further details.
ISIS’s claim does not at this stage make it possible to determine whether the attack was prepared or whether it was the result of a chance encounter between a traveling armed group and the eight victims. It is also not known whether the attackers pledged allegiance to ISIS, before or after the massacre. But the photo that accompanies the publication, because it depicts a summary execution, helps to rule out the hypothesis of a heinous crime or an attempted hostage-taking gone wrong.
Aged 25 to 31, the six French victims worked for the NGO Acted, where they notably came to the aid of displaced populations. On August 9, the six young French aid workers, four men and two women, their driver and their guide were intercepted by “Men riding motorcycles”, according to the Nigerien authorities, while they were traveling in 4 × 4 in the Kouré giraffe reserve, 60 km from the capital, Niamey. An area considered at the time by the authorities to be fairly safe.
A few days after the massacre, the Nigerien interior minister, Alkache Alhada, announced that a suspect had been arrested, without specifying his identity or any connection with an armed group. A local judicial source said on August 12 that the attack appeared “To have been premeditated”, with the aim of “Target Westerners”.
Niger, like neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, is at the heart of an area scoured by jihadist groups claiming to be ISIS or its rival, Al-Qaida. A murderous rivalry that sees the subsidiaries of the two jihadist organizations clash in northern Niger and along the border with Mali. The fighting in recent months between ISIS in the greater Sahara (EIGS, the former name for groups claiming to be ISIS in the Sahel) and the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (or JNIM, for Jamaat Nusra Al-Islam wal-Muslimin), linked to Al-Qaida, were one of the causes of movement of EIGS units, which would have been somehow “pushed” to areas other than those where it usually operated. .
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