LOME - A Chinese company executive kidnapped in Niger's north region of
Agadez Friday is now at the hand of Tuareg tribes and his life is not under
threat, Chinese embassy in Niger said Saturday.
The hostage, identified as Zhang Guohua, was a deputy general manager of the
Societe Des Mines D'Agelik, a uranium prospecting company floated in Niger by
the China Nuclear Engineering & Construction (Group) Corporation.
About 20 to 30 rebels attacked Zhang's vehicle and took him hostage in the
region of Agadez, some 1,000 km north of the capital city Niamey, at about 3:40
p.m. local time (1440 GMT) on Friday. His local driver, interpreter and
bodyguard were spared, the embassy said.
A Nigerien rebel group claimed responsibility for kidnapping a Chinese
company executive in a statement on Saturday. It said that the kidnapping was in
response to the company's policy of employing people from the capital rather
than locals, according to the Chinese embassy.
The group, named the Movement of Niger People for Justice (MNJ),claimed that
the kidnapping was in response to the company's policy of employing people from
the capital rather than locals, according to the Chinese embassy.
The Chinese embassy said it had not been contacted by the group,but it vowed
to spare no effort to secure the hostage's release.
The Nigerien government condemned the act in an official statement later
Government spokesman and Minister of Communication Mohamed Ben Omar said the
government regretted to hear about the abduction and pledged to fight against
rebels who have been active in the north for the past six months.
The Nigerien government would take all necessary actions to secure the
Chinese citizen's release, the statement added.
Security in northern Niger has become a focal point since the same group
attacked a military camp in the Agadez region last month, killing 13 soldiers,
wounding over 30 others and taking 40 people hostage.
In April, the group attacked the largest uranium project of Areva, a French
nuclear energy heavyweight.
Niger, the world's No. 3 uranium producer, accounts for 9 percent of the
world's uranium output.
China has reached agreements with the Nigerien government on cooperation in