Languages
Page last updated at 09:46 GMT, Friday, 23 April 2010 10:46 UK

Al-Qaeda suspected of kidnapping Frenchman in Niger

map

A Frenchman and his Algerian driver have reportedly been kidnapped in Niger, where al-Qaeda's North African branch is known to operate.

Security sources say armed men seized the pair in the lawless Sahara Desert, near the borders with Algeria and Mali.

The reported kidnapping has not been officially confirmed.

This week, four Saharan countries opened a military base to tackle al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which has recently seized several Westerners.

A military source told Reuters news agency the latest kidnapping took place near Tiguidan Tessoun, which is equidistant from the borders with Algeria and Mali.

Demands

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is believed to earn money from ransom payments for hostages, although this is never officially confirmed.

It has also demanded the release of some its militants in exchange for hostages.

In February, Mali freed four militants, sparking a row with Mauritania.

Mali's government denied accusations it was giving it to the militants' demands and said the men had served their time.

Last week, two Italians were freed in Mali after spending four months in captivity, but two Spaniards are still being held hostage.

Last year, al-Qaeda in North Africa killed a British hostage, Edwin Dyer.

The group emerged in early 2007, after a feared militant group, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), aligned itself with Osama Bin Laden's international network.

It has waged a campaign of suicide bomb attacks and ambushes in Algeria, and in recent years has become more active in the Sahara, where governments struggle to impose their authority and gangs of smugglers, bandits and rebels operate alongside the militants.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Saharan states open military HQ
21 Apr 10 |  Africa
Al-Qaeda frees Italians in Mali
16 Apr 10 |  Africa
French man talks of Mali kidnap
25 Feb 10 |  Africa
Mauritania-Mali row over al-Qaeda
23 Feb 10 |  Africa
Mali releases al-Qaeda militants
22 Feb 10 |  Africa
Spain fears kidnap was al-Qaeda
30 Nov 09 |  Africa
Profile: Al-Qaeda in North Africa
03 Jun 09 |  Africa
Country profile: Niger
07 Apr 11 |  Country profiles

RELATED BBC LINKS



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific