Niger Terrorist Attacks Leave 23 Dead as Areva Staff Hurt (2)
At least 23 people were reported dead in attacks on a Niger military base and a Areva SA (AREVA) uranium mine as one of the Islamist groups that prompted French strikes on neighboring Mali claimed responsibility.
Radio France International cited government officials it didn’t identify for the death toll. Interior Minister Abdou Labo told reporters in Niamey, the capital, that at least 19 people are confirmed dead, including 18 soldiers. Four of the attackers were killed, he said, and a fifth was holding hostages at the Agadez base.
Areva, the French maker of nuclear fuel and reactors, said one of its workers died and 14 were injured at the site near Arlit, 240 kilometers (149 miles) north of Agadez.
Forces in Niger have stepped up “security on all of our sites” following the assault at about 5:30 a.m. local time at the Somair uranium mine near Arlit in the north, Areva said in a statement. The injured people were transferred to the Somair hospital, Areva said.
Areva, which produced more than 4,500 metric tons of uranium in Niger last year out of total production of 9,760 tons, increased security measures at its sites in the West African nation after seven workers employed by the company and a unit of Vinci SA (DG) were kidnapped in 2010, and again as French military forces intervened to oust rebels in Mali earlier this year.
Responsibility for the attacks was claimed by the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, known by their French acronym Mujao, according to RFI. The group is among Islamist insurgents, including al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, who took over most of northern Mali until the French campaign to push them out.