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  #1  
Old 23 Apr 2010
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French tourist and Algerian driver kidnapped in Niger

Quote:
NIAMEY, April 22 (Reuters) - A French tourist and his Algerian driver have been kidnapped in northern Niger, near the West African country's border with Mali and Algeria, a Nigerien military source said on Thursday.

The seizure is the latest in a string of attacks in the vast desert region, where governments have little presence and a collection of bandits, former rebels, smugglers and groups linked to al Qaeda operate.
Reuters - French tourist, Algerian driver seized in Niger

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  #2  
Old 23 Apr 2010
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Mali border guards on alert after Niger kidnappings | News by Country | Reuters

Quote: "It is a no-man's land. It is a smuggling zone. People know that you shouldn't be passing through there," he said, asking not to be named.

Hopefuly they find him quickly, but jeez that's a pretty porous border region there between Niger/Mali.

Do you think he was grabbed to make a statement against the new command centre in Tamanrasset? Either way, its less than 200kms from Agadez there.
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Old 23 Apr 2010
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Ennahar Online - A French and an Algerian kidnapped in Niger

This article suggests the kidnapping took place at In-Abangharit rather than Tegguidda-n-Tessoum as BBC were stating (Approx 70kms further north west).

Ennahar also suggesting "Taleb Abdoulkrim is the nickname of the leader of a group calling itself Al-Qaeda operating in the region, but which had hitherto never made hostage"
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Old 23 Apr 2010
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AQIM in the desert of NE Mali will certainly be up to date on the latest security strategies out of Tam. Taking more hostages at this stage ups the ante somewhat. One has to hope that human shields are not their motive this time.
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Old 23 Apr 2010
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This area west of Agadez towards Mali border has long been known to be dodgy.
I'd be very surprised if a genuine tourist wandered in there - and with an Algerian driver? You'd almost think they want to get caught.

I think it may be a while before anyone can get too worried about the new command centre in Tam. It's a positive step, but possibly intended to appease Africom? We've been hearing of co-operation for years.

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Old 23 Apr 2010
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UPDATE 1-Mali border guards on alert after Niger kidnappings | News by Country | Reuters


"A Nigerien military officer, who asked not to be named, said that Niamey believed the kidnappers had already crossed the border despite Mali's efforts to cut them off.
"We think they are somewhere in the Azaouagh strip," he said, referring to a valley in Mali's remote north".
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  #7  
Old 24 Apr 2010
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Quote:
Algerian security sources have told that Algeria will not pay ransom in the case where Al Qaeda request it.
L'Expression - Un Algérien et un Français enlevés au nord du Niger

Gogoonisch - E

Quote:
The French Foreign Ministry said on Friday it was trying to verify the incident. A French police source said the kidnapped man was 78-years-old. No group has claimed responsibility.
Reuters - UPDATE 2-Mali border guards on alert after Niger kidnappings

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Old 25 Apr 2010
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The former emir of the GSPC and the AIS has forged ties of kinship with Tuareg tribes and was also a crony smugglers in Niger and Mali.
L'Expression - Alger rejette et Paris dans l’expectative

Gogoonisch - E

Quote:
"The kidnapping of the French national Michel Germaneau and its accompanying Algerian Ouaghi Abidin, conducted April 22 in Niger is the work of an armed group led by a Tuareg AQIM Abu Abdel Kerim said Yusuf," tells us when an interview, conducted on April 24, a security source who preferred Malian anonymity.
Tahalil Hebdo - AQIM: The secrets of a Malian security source

Gogoonisch - E

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Algiers- Ennahar publishes photos of the two hostages ; French Michel Germaneau and Algerian Ouaghi Abidine, kidnapped by the Salafist group GSPC in Niger.
Ennahar - Pictures of the two hostages kidnapped in Niger

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Old 25 Apr 2010
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Ennahar:
"The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat kidnapped late last week the French Michel Germaneau, born in 1932, retired and president of an association that operates in an area north of Niger, populated mostly by Algerian residents of Niger. The second hostage, named Ouaghi Abidin, an Algerian of 39, married and father of three children, from Tamanrasset.
The two hostages were abducted at 190 km from In Guezzam in the province of Tamanrasset while they were on board an all terrain vehicle."

Why on earth would they kidnap a tuareg from Tamanrasset?
And if they're after money, a 78 year old Frenchman doesn't sound like a good choice.
Article suggests they were kidnapped in Algeria. 190 kms from IGZ would be near the Alg-Mali-Niger corner.
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Old 25 Apr 2010
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As often, Ennahar is confusing - or just not so well translated.

What does "an area north of Niger, populated mostly by Algerian residents of Niger" mean?
Possibly nomad refugee camps around in In Guezzam which were established in the 1990s and with which Michel Germaneau may have been involved?
In that case it may all work well for him in regards of support from local Tuaregs.

Article suggests they were kidnapped in Algeria....

Actually the top of the article says "kidnapped by the Salafist group GSPC in Niger...". The well mentioned - In-Abangharit - is about 190km south of IGZ. I think that's where it happened, not Algeria.

You do wonder if a tip-off might have been passed at Assamaka a couple of hours north of In-Abangharit.

As others have commented, it will be interesting to see how Alg reacts to the situation. It's not a great time of year to be kidnapped, especially if you're 78.
Let's hope the new Tam command centre springs into action.

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Old 25 Apr 2010
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The question in which country the presumed abduction took place may be moot (these borders are after all only lines drawn on a paper by strangers long ago...ask any tuareg..).
Permit me to think that it could be a case of robbery or car theft or something else until the abductors present their claims. If they are indeed kidnappers, don't they seem amateurish when the catch is a 78 yr old French whom they will struggle to keep alive in the brousse over the summer months, plus a touareg from Tam who will generate exactly zero dinars from the Algerians (unless he comes from a very wealthy family)?
But possibly he will generate more interest from the Algerian military.

Last edited by priffe; 25 Apr 2010 at 23:17.
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Old 26 Apr 2010
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The two hostages held for four days, were sent by their captors to the band Azough.
L'Expression - L’Algérie dépêche un renfort militaire

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Old 26 Apr 2010
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Azaouagh

If anyone's interested, according to my 953 this 'Azaouagh' that gets mentioned is a river course that flows SW via In Abagharit over the border towards Menaka and back into Niger and Niamey.
This area west of Agadez has long been known as Azaouagh on maps, a Tuareg homeland, but rarely visited by tourists, even in the good years.

Never been there but I wouldn't say it's "a particularly difficult access", terrain wise. I believe it was around here that those Saudis got attacked a few weeks back.


But possibly he will generate more interest from the Algerian military.

I think it will. It may be the excuse they want. He may 'only' be a Tuareg but they are not so ill thought of by the Alg state as they are by Niger and Mali.

Ch
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Old 29 Apr 2010
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Algerian Driver of French Hostage Freed

Good news, suggesting the hostage takers are wary of upsetting the tuaregs.

Ennahar Online - The Algerian hostage kidnapped in Niger released
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Old 29 Apr 2010
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Wasn't sure whether to believe Ennahar but it's on the BBC now (via Reuters and probably all other media outlets, maybe even Fox too ;-).

BBC News - Kidnapped Algerian driver 'is released in Mali'

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