Benin tour guide shot and killed

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A local guide for two French tourists missing on safari in Benin last week was found shot dead and their car burned out, a local official and a regional security source said.

The fate of the tourists, who failed to return to camp in the Pendjari National Park in northern Benin, is unclear, the sources said.

France 24 television on Sunday reported they were kidnapped, citing unnamed regional sources.

France’s foreign affairs ministry could not confirm the information, though it acknowledged two nationals and their guide were missing since last Wednesday.

Officials in Benin and neighbouring Burkina Faso, where the car was apparently found, declined to comment.

The French government warned citizens against travelling to Benin near the Burkina Faso border where the park is due to the risk of kidnapping.

The country’s military conducted anti-terrorism training exercises last year amid concern about militant activity in Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.

The disappearances and death mark a rare incident of violence in Benin, considered a pocket of calm in restive and impoverished West Africa where jihadist groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State use local grievances to stoke violence and gain influence.

The sources said the guide’s car was found in eastern Burkina Faso, currently overrun by jihadist attacks, forcing more than 100,000 residents to flee.

The guide’s body was riddled with bullets, the two sources said. It was not clear if he was found in Burkina Faso or Benin.