PARIS 

France on Wednesday issued a travel warning for Niger after six French nationals on a sightseeing tour were shot dead in the West African nation over the weekend.

They were killed Sunday shortly after their vehicle caught fire. Gunmen riding motorcycles opened fire at them killing the employees of French non-profit organization Acted.

The attack also left dead two locals who were working as driver and guide for the tour group.

The tourists were on giraffe sighting safari in Koure, 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the capital Niamey.

France’s Foreign Ministry has allowed travel to Niger’s capital, but only if there is a “compelling reason”.

Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou has declared a national state of emergency and suspended access to Koure.

President Emmanuel Macron held a phone call Sunday evening with Issoufou to discuss the matter.

In a particularly gruesome twist, photos of the victims have been posted to the internet, supposedly by far-right and jihadist movements in Niger and spread by extremist groups.

On Wednesday, the managing director for the French Terror Victims Association (AFVT), Guillaume Denoix de Saint Marc said he will file a complaint over the photos.

France has had approximately 5,000 troops in five West African countries including Niger since 2014 as part of its Operation Barkhane.

French authorities on Monday announced an investigation into the matter, adding that the remains of victims will be brought back over the next few days.

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