A soldier stands guard near a camp of the city of Diffa, Niger. Picture: Luc Gnago/Reuters

Niamey - Armed men killed seven people on Thursday in an attack on French drilling company Foraco's water well site in southeastern Niger, a security and company source said.

The security source said the assailants were believed to belong to Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram, which is active in the Diffa region near the border with Nigeria.

An official at the well site in the village of Toumour did not know who was responsible for the attack but said the victims included six company employees and one civil servant.

"We lost six agents in our ranks," the official told Reuters. "The controller, a civil service agent, was kidnapped before having his throat slit not far from the site."

Boko Haram has been trying since 2009 to establish an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria and has launched repeated attacks into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon. Thousands of civilians have died in the violence.

Marseille-based Foraco is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and says it is the third largest global mineral driller with mining and water projects across 22 countries. 

Reuters