France begins evacuating citizens from Niger

PARIS: France has begun evacuating its citizens from Niger following last week’s military coup, with the first plane carrying over 260 people taking off from the capital Niamey, German news agency (dpa) quoted French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna on Tuesday evening.

Twelve babies were on board the flight, said Colonna.

It was initially unclear whether non-French nationals were also on board.

Another plane was scheduled to leave later in the night, according to the French General Staff. A third plane was reportedly being made available.

France had offered to evacuate people from other European countries as well. The Foreign Ministry in Berlin had earlier advised Germans in Niger to accept the offer.

Paris said it was evacuating its citizens following the closure of Niger’s airspace, which risks leaving people trapped in the country.

There had been violent protests in support of the military coup that saw officers from General Omar Tchiani’s elite unit ousting President Mohamed Bazoum last Wednesday.

France does not recognise the new rulers and is calling for a return to constitutional order around democratically elected Bazoum. – Bernama