Security threat and fear of kidnapping Orano Group evacuates

Security threat and fear of kidnapping: Orano Group evacuates expatriates from its Arlit site in northern Niger

The company reported a “security threat” without providing further details. Several employees of the group were taken hostage in Arlit in 2010.

French nuclear company Orano on Friday evacuated 18 migrant workers, mostly Westerners, from a former uranium mining site in Arlit in northern Niger to the capital Niamey after security measures threatened, a company spokesman said in a statement to Portal.

The spokesman did not elaborate on the nature of the threat but said it happened in a village halfway between the Malian border and the town of Arlit, some 800 km north-east of the capital. “In accordance with the protection plan procedures and as a precautionary measure, the expatriates and missionaries and identified potential targets who were at the Akokan residential base were evacuated by air to Niamey under protection,” the spokesman said, adding that they would return there their base in Arlit within days of the threat having passed.

Evacuated by plane under protection

“Armed people traveling on dozens of motorcycles” were sighted near the village of Inanbagaret on Thursday, Ouest-France reports, according to information from a local medium Aïr-info, which is considered reliable. They asked several breeders they met questions to find out if there were “Western citizens in the city of Arlit.”

Orano ceased operations at the Arlit mine in 2021 due to depletion of reserves, but plans to train personnel there and clean up the mining site for at least a decade. In September 2010, five French people, including a woman, Françoise Larribe, a Malagasy man and a Togolese, all Areva employees, were kidnapped in Arlit by armed men.

France last summer moved some of its troops previously stationed in Mali to Niger to help fight groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.