AQIM: More hostage stories

Philomène Kaboré and her husband Sergio Cicala have given interviews regarding their captivity: she having been released some time ago, and he Friday the 16th. They were taken in Mauritania, near the border with Mali, on their way south. Ms. Kaboré says they were kept confined, but treated well. They were not held by the AQIM kidnappers directly but by intermediaries, but were free to walk about in a isolated camp, well fed, and not beaten. The camp itself was so isolated they did not know what country they were in. Does this suggest strength or weakness of their captors? That they have resources and supporters enough that they need not be involved with their prisoners? Or that the AQIM are too hounded to keep a steady and secure base area? Or does it suggest that the AQIM, having begun to pay others to kidnap for them, now are outsourcing the entire operation to smugglers and friendly tribes?

Niger: Greenpeace reoprt on the Nuclear poisoning of Niger

Greenpeace’s 30 March report on radioactivity levels in the streets of Arlit and its suburb Akokan has been repeatedly denied by French nuclear company AREVA, the operator of the two nearby mines. These two (one underground, one open pit) provide almost half Niger’s exports by value, and their “success” is the basis for the some 150 mining contracts sold by the Tandja regime, mostly to Canadian and Chinese companies. Locals have long complained of the pollution from the Somair and Cominak mines. Franco Nigerien group CRIIRAD found radioactivity levels 100 times background in 2007. Construction of roads and buildings was done using radioactive mine tailings, while mine dust blows across the region from Somair pit. With the entire Talak plain west of the Aïr Massif now being sold for mining, the northern seasonal pasture lands upon which pastoralism depends will soon disappear or become polluted beyond use. This has long been known, and it is good to see renewed press attention.

Mali: Creeping famine in the north

Issikta blog republishes an urgent appeal from the mayors of Adielhoc and Tinzawaten communes in Kidal Region, northeast Mali. In a land where seasonally migrating animal herds are the economic foundation, there are reports of %40 of herds starving for…

Niger: Arrests continue

The arrests I noted earlier continued Monday, with at least 13 figures being held at the Gendarmerie, including top leaders who rallied to Tandja’s 6th Republic in 2009: former PM and MNSD party leader Seini Oumarou, Mohamed Ben Omar and Moktar Kassoum…