Four French mine workers kidnapped in Niger

June 23rd, 2008 - 4:53 am ICT by IANS  

Nairobi/Niamey, June 23 (DPA) The rebel Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) Sunday kidnapped four French employees of a uranium mine in northern Niger but said that the abducted people were in no danger. “We assure … the family of these people and the international community that these people are in no danger from the MNJ, who will release them to the Red Cross from today if this is suitable,” the MNJ said in a statement on its website.

The four were working for French nuclear group Areva at a mine in the uranium-producing north of the West African country.

Areva confirmed in a statement that its four employees were kidnapped in the Arlit region.

The company said that it had spoken to the employees, who were all in good health, and was co-operating with the Niger and French governments to secure their release.

The rebel group, which consists mainly of the nomadic Tuareg people, said that its action showed Niger could not guarantee the safety of foreign mining operations despite a government pledge to provide military protection to installations.

The MNJ has carried out a series of attacks on the Nigerian military and foreign mining interests since early 2007.

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