Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Renault's women drivers ad deemed sexist

Read more

FOCUS

Constitution prohibits Aung San Suu Kyi to run for president

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

War and Markets, with Steen Jakobsen, Chief Economist at Saxo Bank

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

France commemorates a hero of the left

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Diplomatic strain for John Kerry

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Germany and Russia 'discuss secret Ukraine deal'

Read more

WEB NEWS

Fake Twitter accounts spread Chinese propaganda

Read more

  • Paris hosts its first pro-Israel rally since start of Gaza offensive

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new game plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • Israel calls up 16,000 more reservists as US condemns school shelling

    Read more

  • France remembers murdered socialist hero Jean Jaurès

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Sierra Leone declares state of emergency over Ebola outbreak

    Read more

  • Investigators reach MH17 crash site amid 24-hour ceasefire

    Read more

  • Video: Inside Hamas ‘terror’ tunnels in Gaza

    Read more

  • Scores feared dead in India landslide

    Read more

  • Russia ordered to pay further €1.9 billion to Yukos shareholders

    Read more

  • Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run?

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • US House votes to sue Obama for over-reaching his powers

    Read more

  • Argentina fails to reach deal with creditors

    Read more

Africa

Tuareg rebels claim responsibility for UN envoy abduction

Latest update : 2008-12-19

Fighters from the Front des Forces de Redressement, a Tuareg rebel group active in Niger, said in a statement that they are holding a UN special envoy for the region, Canadian Robert Fowler, who went missing on Sunday.

AFP - The Niger government is still without news of the top UN official in the country, Canadian Robert Fowler, who disappeared three days ago west of the capital, the government spokesman said Wednesday.
   
Mohamed Ben Omar told AFP he had no news of Fowler, the UN envoy to Niger who disappeared Sunday along with another Canadian diplomat, Louis Guay, and their driver, and that searches were still continuing.
   
The men disappeared some 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of the capital Niamey around Tillaberi, the very region where Niger will celebrate its 50th anniversary of independence Thursday.
   
Ben Omar said the men appeared to have disappeared after visiting Samira, a gold mining site of which Canada's Etruscan Resources is co-owner. Getting to Samira from Niamey entails crossing the Niger river by ferry.
   
The minister said the men's car was found on the Niamey side of the river close to the jetty for the ferry, implying they had been to Samira and were on their way back to the capital at the time of their disappearance.
   
Inside the car were three phones, a camera and a jacket.
   
Witnesses later cast doubt on the fact the car was found near the ferry landing.
   
"There's no way the car can have been found on the ferry car park," said Illiassou, who runs a restaurant at Farie, close to the ferry landing.
   
"There were far too many people for something like that to happen under our noses. We stay open until midnight and after that private security guards take over to look after our things until morning," he explained.
   
"I myself saw the car when it came off the ferry, coming from the Right Bank (Samira side) -- it was around 6:30 (1730 GMT). There were three people on board including the driver and they immediately set off back towards Niamey," he said.
   
A gendarme stationed at Farie, who asked not to be named, said a UN staffer in Niamey, seeing that Fowler and Guay had not returned to the capital by 7 pm Sunday, called a Farie resident for fear the men had met with an accident.
   
That resident alerted the gendarmes and first thing Monday a team of gendarmes found Fowler's vehicle at the side of the road, facing towards Niamey, with the engine and an indicator running and the doors wide open, the source said.
   
Ben Omar said exceptional security measures were in place along the Niamey-Tillaberi road, in view of the anniversary celebrations.
   
He said Fowler's official UN vehicle was followed by a car with Togolese numberplates when it left Niamey. This second car has not been found.
   
On Tuesday the Restoration Forces Front (FFR), a Niger Tuareg rebel group, claimed on its website that it had kidnapped the Canadians.
   
However a few hours later the head of the FFR in a telephone interview with AFP denied that his group was responsible.
   
In Washington on Wednesday, deputy spokesman Robert Wood expressed the US State Department's "grave concern about the disappearance" of Fowler, Guay and their driver.
   
"The United States offers the Canadian and Niger governments and the United Nations Secretary General its full support towards finding Mr Fowler and his colleagues," Wood said.
 

 

 

Date created : 2008-12-18

COMMENT(S)