French uranium employees kidnapped in Niger

23 June 2008

French nuclear company Areva is working with authorities in France and Niger to liberate four of its expatriate employees kidnapped by Tuareg rebels in Niger's Arlit region. Areva confirmed that the four kidnapped employees were in good health and had been able to contact the company. Local press reports have added that the ethnic Tuareg group the Movement of the People of Niger for Justice (MNJ) took the four French employees while they were out jogging in the centre of the town of Arlit, and the group – three men and a woman – include the group's local operations director and a geologist. MNJ has targeted employees of uranium companies before. In 2007 the group kidnapped a Chinese executive from a uranium prospecting company releasing him several days later. A few months earlier, it attacked the Imouraren uranium mine in north Niger, which is operated by Areva. The MNJ claims to be fighting for greater benefits from uranium mining for the inhabitants of northern Niger.