"First they came
on a motorbike and killed the guards," the mayor of Abalak,
Ahmed Dilo, told Reuters by telephone. "Then a 4x4 came and took
him away and drove towards the Mali border."
Residents reported hearing gunfire near the aid worker's house,
where he had been living for years. Dilo said a Nigerien soldier
was among the guards killed.
Kidnappings of foreigners in Niger are rarer than in neighbor
Mali, where Islamist militants are active and often seize
hostages for ransom or political capital.
The militants and allied criminal gangs have long exploited the
largely unpoliced desert spaces of the Sahara and attacks have
increased this year as security worsens in Mali.
No U.S. citizen has been kidnapped in Niger before, although in
2009 suspected Islamists attempted to abduct U.S. embassy
personnel from a hotel in the town of Tahoua.
A U.S. embassy spokeswoman said there was an investigation into
the incident but could not confirm any additional details. Niger
security forces did not immediately comment.
(Reporting by Boureima Balima; Writing and additional reporting
by Tim Cocks in Dakar; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
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