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Saturday, 18 September 2010

Niger: 7 foreigners kidnapped near a uranium mining zone

College News:
Seven foreign workers were kidnapped near a uranium mining zone in Niger. Five are French and the other two are from Togo and Madagascar, according to the New York Times.
Two of the hostages are an employee of Areva, the French nuclear engineering firm, and his wife, whereas the other five worked for Sogea-Satom, a subsidiary of Vinci that is contracted to Areva in Niger.
Areva and Vinci, as well as Bernard Valero, a French Foreign Ministry spokesperson, have confirmed that the workers were kidnapped kidnapped in Arlit, a town in the northern part of the country, during the night between Wednesday and Thursday. The two companies released a joint statement saying that security around the area has been increased.
“France will do everything to liberate them, as we do each time,” President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters, as quoted by the Times, also noting that the Sahel region is “extremely dangerous.
...A local businessman and mining official told Reuters that the workers were taken during sleep. “They went to their houses and picked them. They knew exactly where they were—it is very worrying,” he said. However, there were no official details from the companies as to how the kidnapping took place.”
France suspects Al-Qaida is behind this kidnapping:
No one has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, Kouchner told Europe-1 radio, but he added: “We imagine al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is responsible.”
Kouchner said the army in Niger was on “a war footing” after the kidnappings, and that French intelligence and diplomatic services have been mobilized.
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