Two French hostages kidnapped on Friday night in the West African country of Niger were found dead on Saturday. Their bodies were found after an unsuccessful rescue operation involving government forces.
One of the kidnapped men was an aid worker due to be married to a woman from Niger, while the other man was his friend, reports the BBC. The men were abducted from a bar overnight in Niger's capital Niamey and taken away in a car reportedly heading towards neighboring Mali.
"The terrorists were intercepted at the Mali border and several of them were overpowered," Reuters quoted French Defense Minister Alain Juppe as saying. "After the fighting, the two hostages were found dead." He added that "France is determined to not give in to terrorism and to defeat terrorists."
The incident is said to be the first in Niamey which is far from the desert where Islamist militants, rebels and bandits reportedly flourish.
No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnap, but a former Malian defense minister, Soumeylou Maiga told Reuters the mode of the attack was similar to the operation by groups linked to al Qaeda in the region.
"This is an escalation...It is a sign that they are determined to attack states and Western interests to create a zone of insecurity," Maiga said. "Countries are struggling to coordinate their response. This should push countries to implement much more rigorous security measures."