PARIS – Armed assailants, operating under cover of night, kidnapped five French nationals and two Africans working in Niger for the French nuclear reactor builder Areva, French authorities said Thursday.
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said the seven were kidnapped overnight near the mining town of Arlit, in Niger's northern desert region. French authorities are "totally mobilized" to respond to the situation, Valero said in an online briefing.
The seven — who included a person from Togo and another from Madagascar — were seized by armed men while they were sleeping, a diplomatic official said on condition of anonymity. He was not allowed to speak to the press on the matter.
The Niger government spokesman said about 30 armed men captured the seven and took the hostages away in two Toyotas. The captors drove northwest in the direction of Mali and Algeria, said Mahamane Laouali Dan Dah.