France began Tuesday August 1 evacuating hundreds of French and European citizens from Niger a few days after a junta overthrew West-backed President Mohamed Bazoum and amid call for pullout of all foreign forces in the poor West African country.
The first of three flights to evacuate French and European citizens from Niger took in the evening.
“There are 262 people on board the plane, an Airbus A330, including a dozen babies,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told AFP news agency.
“Nearly all the passengers are compatriots” along with “some European nationals”. France, Italy and Spain had all announced evacuations from Niger for their citizens and other European nationals.
The evacuation came a few days after thousands of Nigeriens protestors burned the French flag and attacked the French embassy in capital Niger on Sunday, several days after a junta removed and held President Bazoum.
The West African regional bloc ECOWAS Sunday gave one week to the junta to rein in Bazoum or face a military intervention. Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea rejected the threat and indicated that any intervention would mean a “declaration of war” and disintegration of the regional organization.
The junta also accused Paris of planning a military intervention. The coup dealt a blow to western powers mainly France, Germany and the U.S all having military troops in the poor and landlocked country.
Source : The North Africa Post