Nigerien rebel group claims responsibility for kidnapping Chinese

Updated: 2007-07-07 22:09

LOME,  -- A Nigerien rebel group claimed responsibility for kidnapping a Chinese company executive in a statement on July 7, reports reaching here from Niamey said.

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 hostage, identified as Zhang Guohua, was a deputy general manager of the Societe Des Mines D'Agelik, a uranium prospecting company registered in Niger by 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.

The embassy said it had not been contacted by the group, but it vowed to spare no effort to secure the hostage's release.

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 uranium mining.


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