Macron to visit Niger to honour massacred soldiers

France has a 4,500-strong anti-jihadist force supporting Sahel countries fighting a seven-year jihadist revolt (AFP Photo/MICHELE CATTANI)

Paris (AFP) - French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to Niger to pay homage to 71 soldiers massacred in a jihadist attack earlier this month, the president's office announced Tuesday.

Macron will join a ceremony at the weekend in the capital Niamey to pay his respects to the soldiers killed at the Inates military camp in the Sahel country's western Tillaberi region on December 10, the Elysee Palace said.

Macron will also meet with his Nigerien counterpart Mahamadou Issoufou in Niamey, it added in a statement.

The two are to discuss plans for a summit in the southern French town of Pau on January 13 bringing together Issoufou and the presidents of Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad and Mauritania.

The five Sahel leaders met in Niamey on Sunday to prepare for the summit, which was initially set for December 16 but was postponed because of the Inates attack.

France has a 4,500-strong anti-jihadist force dubbed Barkhane supporting the five countries fighting a seven-year-old jihadist revolt.

Thousands of civilians have been killed, and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

Issoufou announced late Tuesday that a square in Niamey would be named after the commander of the Inates camp, Lieutenant Colonel Hassane Anoutab, who was killed along with his subordinates in the December 10 massacre.

Macron will visit nearby Ivory Coast on Friday and Saturday before heading to Niger, the Elysee statement said.