National Park

Death toll in Benin National Park attacks rises as France opens terror probe

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Nine people, including a Frenchman, were killed this week in attacks in a national park in Benin’s remote north, on the troubled border of Niger and Burkina Faso, according to a government update.

The toll was the deadliest of recent attacks Benin has suffered as West African coastal states face fallout from Sahel countries battling jihadists.

An African Parks patrol flushing out poachers and another patrol hit two improvised explosive devices on Tuesday, killing five park rangers, a park official, a soldier and a French trainer who was accompanying them, the Benin government said Thursday in a communicated.

A third reconnaissance patrol also hit another explosive on Thursday, killing another African Parks official, he added.

“The government wishes to reassure the population that (…) our strategy will secure this critical area,” said a statement after an emergency cabinet meeting.

African Parks, which manages the northern Benin wildlife reserve, said on Wednesday that six people had been killed in an attack.

France announced on Thursday that it had opened an investigation into a 50-year-old national who was among those killed in a “terrorist attack in Park W, in northern Benin”.

No group has claimed responsibility, but Benin’s military has boosted its presence in the area following two attacks late last year that military sources blamed on jihadists across the country. the border.

Benin has long been one of the most stable countries in West Africa, where Islamic State and al-Qaeda militants threaten countries in the Sahel.

Criminal smuggling gangs also operate along its border.

In January, two Beninese soldiers were killed when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in the northern Atakora region.

The W National Park, which spans Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger, is attached to the Pendjari Park where two French tourists were kidnapped by armed men in 2019.