Friday, April 6, 2012

Niger: US Department of State Issues Travel Warning on Kidnap Threat

Effective April 6, 2012, the US Department of State continues to warn its citizens of the risks of travel to Niger, and urges extreme caution due to increased kidnapping threats against Westerners. This replaces the Travel Warning for Niger dated August 5, 2011.

Al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a terrorist group, continues its attempts to kidnap Westerners in Niger, including US citizens, and has been successful in kidnapping Europeans in the region.

On January 7, 2011, two French nationals were kidnapped in the capital city of Niamey. They were found dead less than 24 hours later following a rescue attempt by French and Nigerien military forces.

In September 2010, seven people, including five French citizens, a Togolese national, and a Malagasy citizen, were kidnapped by AQIM from the northern mining town of Arlit. Four French citizens are still being held hostage by AQIM.

In April 2010, a French citizen and his Algerian driver were kidnapped. The Algerian was freed. AQIM claimed to have killed the French citizen in retaliation for the July attempted rescue operation conducted by Mauritanian and French military forces.

In November 2009, heavily armed individuals attempted to kidnap US Embassy officials in Tahoua.

Because of the security threat, the US Embassy in Niamey continues to restrict the travel of US Government employees and official visitors in the areas north of Niamey.

As a result of safety and security concerns, some organizations, including foreign companies, NGOs, and private aid organizations, have temporarily suspended operations in Niger or withdrawn some family members and/or staff.

Although the U.S. Government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped US citizens, it is US Government policy not to make concessions to kidnappers.

The U.S. Embassy in Niamey strongly encourages US citizens who travel to or remain in Niger despite this Travel Warning to enroll in Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP) so you can receive the most up-to-date security information. Please keep all of your information in STEP current. It is important when enrolling or updating information to include multiple phone numbers and email addresses to facilitate communication in the event of an emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in Niamey is located on Rue des Ambassades. The Embassy's telephone number is (227) 20-72-26-61. You can contact the Embassy after-hours for emergencies at telephone: (227) 20-72-31-41.

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