No ransom demand for French kidnapped in Niger: ministry

17th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

France has received no claim of responsibility nor any ransom demand from the gunmen who kidnapped seven foreign workers, including five French nationals, in Niger, the foreign ministry said Friday.

"There has been no claim of responsibility nor a ransom demand," spokesman Bernard Valero said, one the day after the seven, who also include a Togolese and a Madagascan working for French firms, were kidnapped.

Valero added that France was working in "total cooperation" with the Niger government and repeated a request that all French nationals leave areas of north and west African designated as risky on the foreign ministry website.

The hostages were seized from their homes in Arlit, a uranium mining town in northern Niger, according to their employers, the French nuclear giant Areva and construction firm Satom, a subsidiary of Vinci.

The hostages include a French married couple, and officials in Niger say the kidnappers were a highly mobile gang of Arabic-speaking gunmen equipped with four-wheel drive pick-up trucks.

France fears that the hostages were snatched either by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the same group that murdered a French hostage in July, or by Tuaregs kidnapping to order for the Islamist militants.

© 2010 AFP

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