The kidnapping of five French nationals from northern Niger has provoked French companies Areva and Vinci to evacuate all of their expat staff from the area, while the kidnappers and their hostages are thought to have crossed into Mali.
AFP - French companies Areva and Vinci have decided to evacuate all their expatriate employees working at mines in northern Niger following the kidnap of five French and two Africans, they said Friday.
"All of our [foreign employees] in the north of Niger will be expatriated to Niamey," an Areva spokeswoman said.
A Vinci spokesman earlier told AFP that all of its employees working at Areva's Arlit uranium mine in northern Niger would be pulled back to the Niger capital by the end of the weekend, followed later by those working at the Imouraren site.
According to security in Niger and Algeria, the armed group holding the hostages has now moved them to the desert in Mali.
They have "crossed the border" between Niger and Mali and are currently in the Malian desert, the sources told AFP on Friday.
Niger's army, with air support, has been deployed since Thursday in the area looking for the hostages in a bid to prevent them from being taken out of the country, a security source in Niger had said earlier Friday.