Five rangers and a soldier have been killed and 10 others wounded in an ambush by unidentified assailants in a northern Benin park, its management said.
“In the afternoon of Tuesday February 8, a team of rangers was ambushed in W National Park in Benin, while carrying out a patrol at the northern limit of the Park where it intersects with Burkina Faso and Niger,” African Parks, a non-profit group that manages the park, said in a statement.
It added reinforcements from Benin’s army and additional rangers have been deployed on the ground.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Tuesday’s attack was the deadliest in a series of recent incidents blamed on fighters in the north of the country.
It is with deep regret that we share that on February 8th a team of rangers was ambushed in W National Park, Benin. Initial reports tragically indicate several deaths & injuries. We are working closely with the Government to intensify safety in the region https://t.co/sR5LynsE33 pic.twitter.com/FYxwWTcWr1
— African Parks (@AfricanParks) February 9, 2022
Benin, a small coastal country in West Africa, has been relatively unscathed from a security crisis that has wreaked havoc in its northern neighbours across the Sahel region for much of the past decade.
However, fears are growing over a spillover of violence within its borders as armed groups operating in the landlocked Sahel countries push for expansion into coastal states.
Two soldiers were killed and several others wounded in an attack in northern Benin in December. A Benin army vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in a national park near the border with Burkina Faso in January.
Late last year, President Patrice Talon pledged his government will be “more determined and more vigilant” in the face of growing threats.