Two 'Qaeda militants' captured after Niger kidnap: security

11th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

At least two suspected Al-Qaeda-linked militants were captured after a failed Franco-Nigerien raid to free two French hostages who were later found dead, a Niger security source told AFP Tuesday.

The alleged members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are being questioned in the Niger capital, the source said, from where the two young Frenchmen were snatched on Friday and later found killed in the desert.

"At least two alleged AQIM fighters were captured and brought back safe and sound to Niamey where they are being interrogated," the source said, without elaborating on the circumstances of their arrest.

Three Nigerien security forces were killed and four seriously wounded in clashes with the militants who snatched the Frenchmen from a Niamey restaurant, according to Niger officials.

The bodies of Antoine de Leocour and Vincent Delory, both aged 25, are to be flown back to France on Tuesday, a French MP said, where an autopsy would be carried out.

French Prime Minister Fillon said Monday that the two were killed "in cold blood" by their captors as Nigerien and French troops tracked them through the desert on the Mali-Niger border in a bid to free the hostages.

He said he believed AQIM was behind the kidnapping. No one has yet claimed responsibility.

French officials said Leocour was in Niger to marry a local woman and his childhood friend Delory was visiting for the wedding.

© 2011 AFP

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