Nigerien security forces say Frenchmen kidnappers located near Mali

13:08, January 09, 2011      

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Kidnappers of two Frenchmen exchanged fire with Nigerien security forces on Saturday near the border with Mali, the military said one day after the abduction in the capital Niamey.

Nigerien soldiers withdrew shortly after the encounter for fear of wounding the hostages, according to the military.

Security forces searched for hours earlier in the day in the desert between Niamey and the border with Mali after reports said the hostages were being taken to the neighboring country for detention.

A number of European hostages were confined to their bases by terrorists in the desert of northern Mali last year.

The two Frenchmen, who were abducted on Friday night in a restaurant in Niamey, were reportedly the second target of the al Qaida branch in North Africa known as AQIM, which was linked to a failed bomb attack on the French Embassy on Tuesday in the Malian capital Bamako. AQIM is still holding seven other hostages taken late last year in Niger, including five French nationals.

Source: Xinhua
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