Three Niger hostages freed

28 February 2011

The wife of an Areva employee, who was kidnapped in Niger in September 2010, is one of three hostages freed late on 24 February. Francoise Larribe was released along with Jean-Claude Rakotorilalao and Alex Awando, both employees of the Vinci construction group's Satom subsidiary. All three are reported to be in good health. French President Nikolas Sarkozy expressed thanks to the Nigerien authorities as well as Areva and Vinci-Satom for the parts they played in the release. Larribe's husband Daniel and three other Vinci group employees remain in captivity. According to Areva, the kidnapping was carried out by Al Qaeda, although workers for foreign uranium companies have in the past been targeted by northern Nigerien rebels. Areva is the primary shareholder in the companies that manage two uranium mines in Niger's Arlit region and is also working to start operations at the Imouraren mine in 2013. Most of its 2400 employees in the country are Nigerien.