4th tourist dies in Niger

2009-12-30 12:10

Niamey - A Saudi tourist wounded in an attack in Niger has died from his injuries, bringing to four the number of Saudis killed by gunmen, a hospital source told AFP on Tuesday.

The attackers struck at around 06:00 in the western Tillaberi region of the country on Monday, immediately killing three of the tourists and leaving three others seriously wounded, the government said.

"One of the three wounded Saudis succumbed to his injuries on Monday evening," said a source at the hospital in Niamey where the wounded were taken, who requested anonymity.

Boubacar Diallo, a journalist with the magazine Liberation in Niger, who saw the wounded in hospital, told AFP the latest victim had been hit in the chest and died after undergoing surgery.

The gunmen targeted the tourists as they stopped off to say their morning prayers, a security source said on Monday. Two Malian guides who were with the tourists were found tied up but unharmed at the scene.

Suspects detained

The regional governor Ider Adamou said three suspects detained on the Mali border shortly after the attack are being questioned and the local prosecutor has opened an investigation.

The visitors left the capital Niamey early on Monday in three vehicles and were on their way to stay in Mali's Gao region when they were attacked, Adamou said.

On Tuesday, the governor said in a radio interview that the Saudis were going on a hunting trip as the region is popular for hunting a wild goose found in northern Niger and Mali. The gunmen opened fire when one of the Saudis tried to defend himself, he said.

The north African wing of Al-Qaeda also has launched over the past 12 months a number of attacks on tourists in the area of Monday's incident.

In December 2008 the group kidnapped two Canadian diplomats in Tillaberi, releasing them after a few months, while in January four European tourists were abducted on the Niger-Mali border.

Three were freed but one, a Briton named Edwin Dyer, was killed.