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  #1  
Old 16 Sep 2010
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Areva Kidnappings near Arlit, Niger

There's talk of a possible kidnapping of a group including 5 French citizens who were working near Arlit - presumably on the mine.

News - Africa: France probes 'possible' kidnap in Niger

Last edited by Chris Scott; 7 Nov 2013 at 14:02.
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  #2  
Old 16 Sep 2010
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Confirmed!

Quote:
NIAMEY, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Five French nationals including two staff of French nuclear company Areva (CEPFi.PA: Quote), were kidnapped in northern Niger on Thursday, a spokesman for Areva in the capital Niamey said.

"They were kidnapped very early this morning in the town of Arlit," the spokesman said by telephone, referring to a northern town near the companies uranium mining operations.

The other three hostages worked for construction company Sogea-Satom, he said.

France's foreign ministry said it was investigating a possible kidnapping in Niger of a group of people including French citizens.

Kidnappings of foreigners has become more frequent in West Africa's Sahara-Sahel region over the last year, with hostages usually ending up in the hands of groups linked to al Qaeda's North African wing.

France has said it is at war with the group and pledged further military support to countries in the region after Islamists said in July they had executed a French citizen they were holding after a failed French-Mauritanian raid to free him. (Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalatchi; Writing by Mark John and David Lewis; Editing by Louise Ireland)
Reuters - Five French kidnapped in Niger - nuclear firm

and

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At least two French nationals among seven workers kidnapped in Niger. All worked for state-owned nuclear giant, Areva.
Al Jazeera - French workers kidnapped in Niger

Ulrich
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  #3  
Old 16 Sep 2010
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On the latest kidnappings, the BBC news website notes:
Laouali Dan Dahdit said the kidnappers "spoke mostly Arabic and Tamashek", a Berber language used by the desert region's semi-nomadic Tuareg people.

Which reminds me, last Saturday morning (11 Sept 2010), Robert Fowler, the Canadian diplomat who was kidnapped by AQIM, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4. There wasn't much new in what he said on Saturday. Most of it was a retelling of the interviews previously available on the internet via Canadian TV. One striking thing, though, was the comment that the most frequently spoken language amongst the AQIM guys (or the language which they had in common - I forget which) was Tamashek.
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Old 16 Sep 2010
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Fwiw, the local Tuareg (as opposed to AQIM), have been protesting about getting a slice of Areva's pie in Niger this last year or two. Didnt they briefly kidnap a European engineer or smth a year or so back?

Ch
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  #5  
Old 16 Sep 2010
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Kidnappings near Arlit by local Taureg tend to have a faster and happier ending than AQIM's- so one has to hope.

However, "They were last seen heading towards Inabangaret, an important well and stopping point near the border with Algeria and Mali, he said."
BBC News - French nationals among seven workers kidnapped in Niger

And we all know what happens west of there....
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Old 17 Sep 2010
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friends of mine in 2 land rovers crossed into algeria on tuesday the 14th sept(a6 hour border crossing inwhich cb radios and binoculars were confiscated) they crossed at Hazoua and are taking 7 days to cross down to In-Guezzam and then on to Agadez via Arlit,so they should be there by this time next week and from Agadez hopefully will be able to get more info on how things are in the area. LES
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Old 17 Sep 2010
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Originally Posted by landy les View Post
friends of mine in 2 land rovers crossed into algeria on tuesday the 14th sept(a6 hour border crossing inwhich cb radios and binoculars were confiscated) they crossed at Hazoua and are taking 7 days to cross down to In-Guezzam and then on to Agadez via Arlit,so they should be there by this time next week and from Agadez hopefully will be able to get more info on how things are in the area. LES
Hi - in case your friends haven't seen the postings and if there is an opportunity, pass on the info from this thread:
http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...h-2010-a-49299

The details come from SA biker, Kobus, who experienced some things on the piste into Niger from Algeria.

I'd guess that the security on the Arlit piste is hightened now, following the kidnappings, but some tactics to get round local banditry might be worthwhile.
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Old 17 Sep 2010
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Tuareg official protests Niger kidnapping accusation < French news | Expatica France
French mine workers 'kidnapped by al-Qaeda' in North Africa - Telegraph
Surprised there isn't better security provided by Areva?
The French had a small window of time now gone to attack without worrying about hostages wellbeing.

Further: Niger : le convoi des ravisseurs repéré par satellite - Temoust.org | Le portail du peuple touareg berbère Kel Tamasheq
Quote:
Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) remains at the center of suspicions that Friday, September 17, 2010, following the kidnapping of five French and two African mining in northern Niger. Even if there were no further claim or demand ransom. The hostages were taken today in the Malian desert by their captors, according to Nigerian and Algerian security sources
The information that appears now confirmed, is that since yesterday evening, the kidnappers have been identified through means including satellite french. Of probable aerial reconnaissance provided GPS coordinates last night.

The convoy of the kidnappers had "crossed the border" between Niger and Mali, and is currently in the desert of Mali, said the Malian and Algerian security sources. Supported by air assets, the Nigerian army had deployed in the area since Thursday "to find the hostages and see if we can prevent them from leaving the territory of Niger", explaining this morning morning a Nigerian security source.

The movement al-Qaeda in the Maghreb

Regional security sources said, it would be the movement al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, and more specifically the group of Abu Zeid, who was involved in the kidnapping of seven people including five French groups employed by Areva and Vinci.

One of the kidnappers would be one of the Abu Zeid. The other would act as providers. Several sources believe that the abductors have not had time to surrender their hostages.

The French group Areva and Vinci, employers of the seven abductees, have decided to evacuate all their expatriate employees of mining sites in northern Niger, it was learned Friday from the two companies.
I understand that the "Cure Saleé" festival to celebrate the end of the rainy season is to be held in a few days, and normally there would be lots of tourists in the Arlit area now.

Last edited by priffe; 18 Sep 2010 at 02:07.
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Old 18 Sep 2010
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The shock of the announcement of the kidnapping of five French nationals linked to Al Qaeda in the Maghreb AQIM, in the Sahara, with the close collaboration of the Security Coordinator at the Elysee Palace, trying to prepare a contingency plan for the least to have news of the five French nationals abducted. ...
Echorouk - Strong presence of the DGSE officers in Mali and Niger: Initial contacts with Algiers

Quote:
Security sources have revealed the name of the terrorist Malian named Amar Amnoukal Ag, as the author of the operation.
L'Expression - Al Qaîda défie l’Europe

Gogoonisch - E

Quote:
... A source close to the investigation in any case provide Nigerian armed group that has benefited from "complicity" in the security apparatus of the mine site Arlit, for daring to conduct their operation. The seven foreigners have been kidnapped in the night between Wednesday and Thursday at their home located in secure areas of this site extraction of uranium. "What is certain is that the kidnappers were well informed," said another source familiar with the matter. "There are strange things. It surprised a little that the door will be opened as easily in the camp Satom, "she added. Interrogé, Areva a refusé de commenter ces «rumeurs». Interrogated, Areva declined to comment "rumors."
Le Figaro - Les Français enlevés au Niger seraient désormais au Mali

Gogoonisch - E

Quote:
The Areva executive said the kidnappers travelled in four-wheel-drive vehicles to two houses where the foreign employees resided.

"They overpowered the civilian guards at the villa before waking up the occupants, who were all French. They took them with them. They did the same at the second villa and then left the town," he said.

A Niger government spokesman said a local Areva employee had been forced to guide the kidnappers to the right houses. He was then taken hostage too but released about 10 km (6 miles) out of town. (Additional reporting by Nick Vinocur, Tiemoko Diallo in Niger and Abdoulaye Massalatchi in Mali and Laurent Prieur in Nouakchott; editing by Brian Love and Ralph Boulton)
Reuters - France urges danger zone exit after Niger kidnap

Quote:
DAKAR, 17 September 2010 (IRIN) - A kidnap threat blocking Western aid workers from travelling to parts of Mali is hampering aid operations and underscoring the importance of local NGOs, humanitarian experts say.

Several international aid agencies have stopped all travel by Western aid workers to Mali’s northeastern Gao region since early 2010, aid workers told IRIN. To lower their profile, some international NGOs still working in the area are using local, unmarked vehicles. Gao is the zone currently of most concern but there have been alerts regarding other regions of Mali as well.
IRIN Africa | MALI: Kidnap threat throws spotlight on local aid staff | West Africa | Mali | Food Security Aid Policy | News Item

Ulrich
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Old 18 Sep 2010
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Eyewitness report from the kidnap

Quote:
Ahmed and Bachirou guarded the homes of employees and Satom Areva, Niger. On the night of Thursday to Friday, they saw the terrorists arrive and the five French forcibly taken. Probably five 4x4 vehicles. Thirty to fifty men dressed in Afghan Arabs mostly, with some Malian Tuaregs... it is clear that several groups of men were operating simultaneously in two districts of Arlit to previously identified targets with precision.
Otages: Opération commando

Last edited by priffe; 18 Sep 2010 at 16:02.
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Old 18 Sep 2010
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I think by now even AQIM will be surprised if it is not AQIM who has done the kidnapping.

Niger and Mali do not seem to have taken the AQIM issue seriously. I doubt that the kidnapping of tourists bothered the governments much. Aid workers and NGOs probably don't raise much concern either. But uranium exports must surely bother Niger. They don't export much else from there. So if Niger is still not very bothered about AQIM after this, then AQIM may as well go and set up camp in Niamey.
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Old 18 Sep 2010
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Even if they are looking for ransom money, at this time they may also need the hostages as human shields as they are under attack. And they didn't want to wait until winter. Perhaps Arlit was the place where they would find French hostages to fit the bill. They kidnapped seven people; some speculate this is to avenge the seven AQIM members who were killed in Mali.
Hopefully this fall will be the end of status quo, even if it gets worse before it can get better.
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Old 19 Sep 2010
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Video from france24
France24 - Mauritanian troops clash with suspected al Qaeda militants
It appears the Areva security guards are not allowed to carry arms, so it wasn't much they could do. Otoh there is a US trained anti-terrorism batallion in Arlit. Like the Nigerian journalist in the footage says, it raises suspicion of an inside job.
He was arrested today in Niamey for making those statements.
Enlèvements au Niger: polémique Areva/Niamey sur la sécurité du personnel - Dépêches - El Watan

Also today Sunday, 100 French anti-terrorism specialists arrived in Niamey. It is the first time in 25 years French military is invited into Niger.
French forces land in Niger for hostage hunt-source | News by Country | Reuters

Niger government blames Areva
Areva blames Niger goverrnment
France24 - Areva admits security 'breakdowns' led to workers' kidnapping
Since the guards were former tuareg rebels, they were not allowed to be armed by Niger government...

Last edited by priffe; 20 Sep 2010 at 12:58.
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Old 20 Sep 2010
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More details of the French engagement - including deployment of Mirage aircraft fitted with EMR surveillance. The mirage have already flown >20hrs over N Mali.

France ups efforts to find hostages: News24: Africa: News

The degree of response this time is an order of magnitude larger. As is the media coverage.
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Old 22 Sep 2010
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Quote:
Malian separatists accuse the government of supporting AQMI

The seven people working with French nuclear reactor builder Areva are held by the terrorist Abdelhamid Abou Zeid says the spokesman of the Coalition for Change in Northern Mali Hama Agh Sid Ahmed. He added that the hideouts of the terrorist were located at 70 Km from a Malian Army Barracks.
Agh Sid Ahmed accused the government of Amadou Toumané Touré of supporting the Al Qaeda linked terrorist group AQMI in his country. He specifies that the government provides assistant to the terrorist to conduct operations in the neighbouring countries, including Niger and Mauritania.
Regarding the abduction of the Areva employees on September 16, the Malian separatist leader asserted that the operation was planned and conducted from the Malian territories. Abou Zeid terrorists came back to Mali the day after to their base, said Agh Sid Ahmed.
El Khabar

Quote:
PARIS/DUBAI, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's North African wing has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of seven foreigners in Niger last week, including five French nationals, Arabic news channel Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday.
Reuters - North African al Qaeda claims Niger kidnappings-TV

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