French prosecutors said Thursday they had opened a terrorism investigation into a recent attack on park rangers in northern Benin in which one of six French citizens was killed.
Earlier today, France condemned the ambush in the park run by Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger.
“The Office of the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor has opened an investigation for premeditated murder in connection with a terrorist mission after being informed of the death of a 50-year-old French national following a terrorist attack in W park, northern Benin,” the prosecution said in a statement.
Five rangers and a soldier were killed and ten others were injured when unidentified gunmen raided a patrol at W National Park, the South African non-profit organization that operates the park, African Parks, on Wednesday.
It is the deadliest in a series of attacks since December in northern Benin, where groups linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State have relocated from Burkina Faso and Niger.
Recent attacks in Benin, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire have highlighted the expansion of Islamist violence from the landlocked Sahel states, where insurgency has raged for much of the past decade, to the coastal states of West Africa.
Former French military personnel have trained park rangers and accompanied them on patrols in Benin, where African Parks operate the W and Pendjari National Parks.