Niger Believes Kidnapped Foreigners Taken to Mali

Published on Saturday 8th January 2011

Niger security forces said Saturday they believe gunmen who abducted two foreigners in the capital are headed toward the west, where Niger is focusing its search. A security source told the French news agency, AFP, "The search is mainly being carried out towards Mali."Witnesses say gunmen abducted the foreigners from a Niamey restaurant Friday.  Mali is about 200 kilometers from Niamey.  The witnesses say the attackers burst into the restaurant and forced the men to follow them to a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Witnesses say they believe the victims are French.  France's Foreign Ministry says it is checking on the reports. France is already trying to secure the release of five French hostages seized in Niger in September along with a Togolese and a Madagascan.  French officials have said they believe those hostages were abducted by al-Qaida's North Africa branch and taken to neighboring Mali. Previous attacks in Niger have usually taken place farther to the north, where rebels and local bandits have long operated. Last year, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for kidnapping and killing a 78-year-old Frenchman in Niger.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.



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