Two Chinese mining workers kidnapped in western Niger, World News
Gunmen kidnapped two Chinese workers at a mining company in an unstable area near Niger’s western borders with Mali and Burkina Faso, the region’s governor said on Monday.
“Two Chinese nationals were kidnapped (…) by armed men in Mbanga” Sunday evening, the governor of the Tillabéri Tidjani region Ibrahim Katiella told AFP.
The area of the “three borders” between the nations of the Sahel is regularly affected by attacks by jihadist groups linked either to al-Qaeda or to the Islamic State.
The governor said the identity and number of people behind Sunday’s kidnapping was not known.
He added that the two kidnapped Chinese employees “have a permit to search for gold” and had already received warnings from armed groups to leave the area “but they refused to return home”.
China strengthened its economic ties with Niger in 2006 through exploration for uranium, gold and oil.
The last time a Chinese citizen was kidnapped was on July 6, 2007.
An employee of the China Nuclear Engineering and Construction Corporation (CNEC) carrying out uranium exploration work in the north has been kidnapped by the Tuareg rebel group of the Nigerian Movement for Justice (MNJ).
The MNJ then told AFP that the kidnapping was an “ultimatum to Chinese companies which cooperate with the Nigerien army”.
He was released after several days of negotiations.
Several other foreign nationals have been kidnapped in Mali over the past decade, including four French citizens in 2010 who were released three years later, and a German NGO employee in 2018 in Tillabéri who has never been found. .
Landlocked Niger faces attacks from the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram from the southeast, and IS and al-Qaeda groups from the western border with Mali.
On March 21, several hamlets in the Tahoua region, on the Tillabéri border, were hit by coordinated attacks that left 141 dead, the alleged deadliest jihadist attack in Niger in recent years.