Al-Qaeda insurgents attack French uranium intersts in Niger?

French uranium company Areva and its subcontractor Vinci have evacuated all their expatriate employees working at the Arlit and Imouraren mines in northern Niger following the abduction of five French and two African workers. Both Niger and France fear they were seized by militants of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Niger’s ex-foreign minister Idi Ango Omar told Anfani radio that private security groups employed at the mines were run by former Tuareg rebels, and denounced the arrangement—in an evident attempt to link the Tuareg insurgency to al-Qaeda. (France24, Sept. 19)

Mauritania meanwhile sent combat aircraft into a battle in northern Mali, to drive back presumed AQIM militants. “Our armed forces spotted a group of terrorists on board a column of armed vehicles, which were moving towards our border…with the clear intention of attacking one of our positions,” Mauritania’s military said in a statement. (Middle East Online, Sept. 19)

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