Two French nationals abducted in Niger: witnesses

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Gunmen abducted two French nationals late Friday from a restaurant in Niamey, the capital of Niger, witnesses told AFP.

Two armed men burst into the restaurant, Le Toulousain, in the city centre, when it was crowded with diners and forced the two men to follow them, said a member of staff.

They taken to a a four-by-four vehicle bearing Benin plates in which other armed men were waiting and driven off.

A security source in Niger confirmed the abduction.

"We are aware of this information, we are fully mobilised both in Paris and in Niamey to check it," a French foreign ministry spokesman told AFP late Friday.

France is already working to secure the release of five French hostages seized in Niger in September along with a Togolese and a Madagascan.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are believed to be holding them in neighbouring Mali.

In November, AQIM head Abdelmalek Droukdel, alias Abou Moussaab Abdelouadoud, said in the message on Al-Jazeera television that bin Laden alone could negotiate the release of the hostages

French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie rejected any suggestion that France would negotiate their freedom with Osama bin Laden and pull its troops out of Afghanistan.

© 2011 AFP

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