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State Department Travel Warning: Niger

August 14, 2011 Comments off

State Department Travel Warning: Niger
Source: U.S. Department of State

August 05, 2011

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Niger, and urges extreme caution due to increased kidnapping threats against Westerners. This replaces the Travel Warning for Niger dated January 12, to update information on security concerns, registering with the U.S. Embassy, and access to current security information.

Al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a terrorist group, continues its attempts to kidnap Westerners in Niger, including U.S. citizens, and has been successful in kidnapping Europeans in the region. On January 7, two French nationals were kidnapped in the capital city of Niamey. They were found dead less than 24 hours later following a rescue attempt by French and Nigerien military forces. In September 2010, seven people, including five French citizens, a Togolese national, and a Malagasy citizen, were kidnapped by AQIM from the northern mining town of Arlit. Four French citizens are still being held hostage by AQIM. In April 2010, a French citizen and his Algerian driver were kidnapped. The Algerian was freed. AQIM claimed to have killed the French citizen in retaliation for the July attempted rescue operation conducted by Mauritanian and French military forces. In November 2009, heavily armed individuals attempted to kidnap U.S. Embassy officials in Tahoua.

Due to these ongoing security threats and in view of the January 7 incident, the U.S. Embassy in Niamey continues to restrict the travel of U.S. government employees and official visitors in areas north of Niamey. The U.S. Embassy also continues to evaluate proposed travel, as well as both official and personal activities, on a case-by-case basis in light of the current security situation. The U.S. Embassy urges all U.S. citizens in Niger to maintain extremely high vigilance.

As a result of safety and security concerns, some organizations, including foreign companies, NGOs, and private aid organizations, have temporarily suspended operations in Niger or withdrawn some family members and/or staff.

Although the U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, it is U.S. policy not to make concessions to kidnappers.

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