Niamey : An American NGO worker was kidnapped in the Niger town of Abalak, northeast of the capital Niamey, before being taken by his abductors to Mali, a security source told AFP. “It is too early to determine the identity of the kidnappers, who have returned to Mali. The authorities have put the region on maximum alert”, the source said, asking not to be named.
Niger’s long, porous borders make it occasionally vulnerable to the armed violence that has rocked neighbouring states including Mali in recent years.
Northern Mali, which fell under the control of Al-Qaeda-linked jihadi groups in 2012 before a French-led military intervention pushed them out, remains subject to attacks by jihadists. “At least two people were killed during an exchange of gunfire” as the hostage was being taken, the source said, without revealing the identity of the victims. “All roads to Mali are being monitored,” the source added. It is the first time that a US national has been kidnapped in Niger. A US State Department spokesperson told AFP said they were aware of reports of the kidnapping of an American citizen but declined to comment further.