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  #1  
Old 8 Jan 2011
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2 kidnappings (french) in Niamey

Details (in French) :

[url=http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2011/01/08/deux-francais-enleves-au-niger_1462620_3212.html#ens_id=1411819]Deux Fran
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Old 8 Jan 2011
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BBC version

BBC News - Gunmen kidnap two Frenchmen in Niamey, Niger
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Old 8 Jan 2011
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Same old story, seems they got away though are being pursued:

UPDATE 1-Niger forces and kidnappers clash near Mali border | News by Country | Reuters
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Reports in the French press tonight suggest the two captives have been killed.

Le Figaro

also here

France24 - Two Frenchmen seized in Niamey restaurant killed
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Old 9 Jan 2011
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The BBC reports the kidnappers were intercepted north of Ouallam, hostages killed.

BBC News - Two French hostages in Niger killed in rescue attempt


Update, Jan. 9 12:49 GMT:
BBC News - French hostages 'killed by captors' in Niger
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Old 9 Jan 2011
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Most detailed article so far about the tragic termination of the hostage taking in Niamey - in French:

OTAGES TUÉS AU NIGER - Les dessous d'une opération meurtrière, actualité Défense ouverte : Le Point

Most interesting the last 3 paragraphs in my opinion.
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Old 10 Jan 2011
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Tragic event and seemingly the way we can expect more of these events to end, particularly if AQIM continue to be so bold with their attacks. AQIM have crossed a line now and enforced a push-back on themselves.

I would expect AQIM to have a long think about it all and perhaps revert to more remote activities and kidnappings. There has been an escalation in their approach (abductions on the tar road in Mauri which leads to the capital, abductions from the mine at Arlit and now abductions from inside a capital city) and they have reached the point now where they have not succeeded. Until this point pretty much all AQIM has done by way of kidnappings (discounting an event in central-eastern Niger some time ago) has worked out for them.

Something I'm not clear about is why the French special forces don't engage at times other than a hostage drama - in other words on their own terms and with the benefit of surprise.

Last edited by Richard Washington; 10 Jan 2011 at 10:58.
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Old 10 Jan 2011
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"One of the dead hostages was an aid worker who had been due to marry a Nigerien woman next week. The other was his best man who had just arrived in Niamey for the ceremony, according to France's Journal du Dimanche."
French minister heads to Niger: News24: World: News

These details make me wonder about the planning for this abduction.

It seems unlikely that these two were specifically targeted. It seems more probable that an associate of AQIM was at the restuarant and phoned in the required info to the abductors- e.g. "2 French guys are sitting at the table near the window" - this knowing that French nationals, whoever they might be, frequent the place.
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Old 10 Jan 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Washington View Post
Something I'm not clear about is why the French special forces don't engage at times other than a hostage drama - in other words on their own terms and with the benefit of surprise.
I am not so certain we would hear about it if they were. Judging by the amount of activity in (and especially above) Mauritania at the moment I don't think the French are sitting back, quite the opposite. I would not like to be driving a dodgy-looking technical in N Mali right now.
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Old 10 Jan 2011
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I am not so certain we would hear about it if they were.
Might we not expect to hear about some successful campaigns from time to time?
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Old 10 Jan 2011
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I would expect AQIM to have a long think about it all...

I don't think AQIM will regard it as a complete failure. It's always a risk they will be chased and they've succeeded in terrorising French interests out there, gained 3 'martyrs', killed a Niger soldier on the way and wounded some French SAS types (all according to some reports).

One reason AQIM cant do remote so easily may be that targets are either well protected (as in Mori and I imagine Arlit mine now) or there are too few tourists and other targets out there now. So they have to reach further. Niamey is just 200km from Mali.

And AQIM still have 5 French nationals captive up in Mali who may be subject to reprisals, if the same or allied AQIM groups are involved.

Ch
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Old 10 Jan 2011
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Originally Posted by Richard Washington View Post
Might we not expect to hear about some successful campaigns from time to time?
You might think so. But then we don't hear too much about their commitment & strategy in the area generally. My point is, whatever is going on, it all looks very pro-active on the ground.
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Old 10 Jan 2011
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You might think so. But then we don't hear too much about their commitment & strategy in the area generally. My point is, whatever is going on, it all looks very pro-active on the ground.
Info from those kidnapped themselves in the recent past has not been forthcoming either (as far as I can tell). Its only been the Canadian diplomat who provided useful details. My guess is that those who have been set free have been asked to keep details away from the public domain.

Richard, can you say more about what you've seen on the ground?
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This was a daring kidnapping in down-town Niamey, where French may have thought they would be safe. One gets the impression that Aqim are willing to strike anywhere, even where the odds for a successful operation are not the best.
But the risk-reward factor has changed over the last year, after the ransom was collected for the Spanish there hasn't been any easy paydays for Aqim.
This time noone has accused touaregs and it appears the kidnappers were Aqim proper, from their appearance and since they ultimately killed their hostages.
Even if Aqim stronghold is still in north Mali, there is a lot of dodgy business going on in the Gao-Menaka region that is spilling over into south Niger.
I wonder what had happened if the victims had been, say Swedish? Dutch? British? Surely the reaction from the French and Niger army would have been less?
Would that be a good or bad thing, from the hostages POV?
I hope the bad guys were roughed up enough they won't try this again, but one never knows. I wonder who and where they will target next. Impossible to guess, but perhaps not in Mori. I would be careful esp. if travelling through Niger now. North Nigeria may become the next Aqim stronghold. In Mali, the festivals are going on this month and I hope visitors are vigilant.
Touareg news from the area Actualités - Temoust.org | Le portail du peuple touareg berbère Kel Tamasheq
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Old 10 Jan 2011
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Good coverage in French. Aqmi serait bien-a-l-origine-du-rapt
Quote:
"Eliminated coldly"
The two French nationals kidnapped Friday in Niamey were "coldly eliminated" by their captors, also said Francois Fillon. "The hostage-takers, when they saw they were followed, hostages were eliminated coldly according to preliminary results available to me." "Obviously the investigation is thorough. And all the results will be communicated to families."
The victims, very young.
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