NIGER: 80 French Soldiers Hunt for Workers "Abducted by Qaida"
The French military flew reconnaissance jets over the Sahara on Monday in search of seven foreign workers who authorities fear were kidnapped by al-Qaida-linked militants near a French-operated uranium mine.
The hostages — including five French citizens — were last seen heading toward the neighboring countries of Mali and Algeria with about 30 captors before being seemingly swallowed by the vast desert.
'Their mission is to help Niger's military find the seven kidnapped people,' Niger government spokesman Mahamane Laouali Dan Dah said of the French forces.
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal told reporters in Paris it is highly probable that al-Qaida's North Africa branch, known as AQIM, is behind the kidnappings Thursday in Niger, a former French colony. The Associated Press (20 September 2010)