French helicopters 'used in Niger attack'
Four French military helicopters took part in an attack on gunmen who abducted two Frenchmen in Niger, who were later found dead, a security source in northern Mali told AFP Sunday.
"Four helicopters belonging to the French army participated in the attack against the kidnappers of the two killed Frenchmen. The aircraft were stationed at the airport of a town in northern Mali," said a source at the airport.
"I saw the helicopters. One of them was damaged, surely by enemy fire," added the same source.
A joint Franco-Nigerien attack was carried out in an attempt to rescue two 25-year old Frenchmen who were seized by gunmen with assault rifles at a restaurant in Niamey on Friday night.
Both men were found dead after the military's failed rescue operation in the desert on Saturday.
The hostage-takers have not been identified but the killing raised suspicions that they were linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has claimed other abductions of French nationals in Niger.
© 2011 AFP