Niger denies Qaeda suspects held after French kidnap

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A Niger official on Wednesday denied any Al-Qaeda suspect was being questioned over the kidnapping and killing of two Frenchmen, despite assertions that two alleged militants had been captured.

"We are holding no living terrorist that we are questioning," an advisor to Interior Minister Ousmane Cisse told AFP, asking not to be named.

"The bodies of two terrorists were nevertheless handed over by French authorities during the night of January 8 to 9."

Cisse earlier told France's RFI radio that French forces involved in the raid on the kidnappers of the Frenchmen from a Niamey restaurant on January 7 brought six bodies and two wounded back to the Niger capital.

Cisse said that the two wounded were Niger security forces.

On Tuesday, two French lawmakers briefed by Prime Minister Francois Fillon said that the premier told them that "four terrorists" were killed, and two others wounded, captured and brought back to Niamey.

A Niger security source also said on Tuesday that two suspected members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) had been captured and were being questioned after the Franco-Nigerien rescue bid.

"At least two alleged AQIM fighters were captured and brought back safe and sound to Niamey where they are being interrogated," the source had said.

© 2011 AFP

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