Al-Qaeda claims abduction of two Canadian diplomats and four European tourists in Niger
Qaeda claims abduction of diplomats, envoys- - -
DUBAI - Al-Qaeda's North Africa network has claimed responsibility for the abduction of two Canadian diplomats, one of them a UN envoy, and four European tourists in Niger, Al-Jazeera television reported.
"We are happy to bring our Islamic nation the good news of the mujahideen's success in carrying out two quality operations in Niger," the group's spokesman Salah Abu Mohammed said in an audio tape aired on the Doha-based pan-Arab channel late Tuesday.
His announcement was also posted on Al-Jazeera's website.
Two Canadians, UN envoy to Niger Robert Fowler and his colleague Louis Guay went missing outside Niamey in mid-December along with their driver when returning from a visit to a gold mine operated by Canadian company Semafo.
Earlier this month, Malian sources close to the investigation into the abduction said they had seen an undated video showing the diplomats were still alive.
The sources said the video showed the two diplomats speaking with armed men behind them. The missing driver was not shown.
On January 22, a Swiss couple, an elderly German woman and a British man were returning from a Tuareg cultural festival in Mali when they were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen along the border of Mali and Niger.
Al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb claimed several suicide bombings in Algeria last year.
It says it intends to unify armed groups in Algeria and Morocco as well as emerging groups in countries bordering the Sahara including Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, and Eritrea.
From AKI February 18, 2009 (Dubai):
Terrorism: Al-Qaeda video claims foreign abductions in Niger
A message allegedly from Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of Canadian diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay in Niger and the abduction of four European tourists in January on the border between Niger and Mali.
"We are happy to announce to the Islamic nation that our mujahadeen have managed to carry out two operations in Niger," said the audio message purportedly from Al-Qaeda's North African branch. It was broadcast on Wednesday by Dubai-based Arabic satellite news channel Al-Arabiya.
"The mujahadeen reserve the right to treat the hostages according to Islamic Sharia law," the audio message warned.
Fowler is a Canadian diplomat and United Nations special envoy to Niger and Guay is the deputy director of the Sudan task force in the Canadian capital,Ottawa. They were abducted with their driver outside Niamey on 14 December while returning from a visit to a gold mine operated by a Canadian company.
On 16 December a rebel group called the Front des Forces de Redressement claimed to have kidnapped Fowler, but a spokesperson later denied the claim.
An undated video showing the diplomats were still alive was sent to the Malian authorities earlier this month. Their missing driver was not shown in the video.
A Swiss couple, an elderly German woman and a British man were returning from a Tuareg cultural festival in Mali on 22 January when they were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen along the border of Mali and Niger.