Security and the Nigerien Extractive Industries
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Threats to operating environment
According to the United Nations Security Council, Niger was at risk in 2012 of destabilisation due to the dissemination of weapons from Libya as the fighting came to an end in 2011. In June 2011 Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou reported that Nigerien security forces had recovered heavy explosives in an armed raid of a suspected terrorist operation, saying that the arms came from Libya and were intended for al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Niger has also faced security threats in the past from Toureg rebellions among the nomadic Toureg people that live in the Sahara Desert. Tuareg communities in Mali and Niger complain of poor representation in governments, exacerbating marginalisation and poverty. The Tuareg say that the uranium industry has damaged valuable pastoral lands, while revenues have failed to benefit local communities. In March 2012 neighbouring country Mali witnessed a military coup by Tuareg rebels and President Issoufou warned that clashes between the Tuareg rebels and Mali soldiers could undermine security in northern Niger.
Kidnappings and the Extractive Industries
The development of the extractive industries has come up against resistance in Niger, with a number of kidappings reported in protest at industry activities. In 2007 the kidnapping of a Chinese mining executive by the Mouvement des Nigeriens pour la Justice (MNJ) took place in the mining region of Agadez near the town of Ingall. According to a leaked US cable, the kidnapping was motivated by the low number of Nigeriens being employed in uranium mining and insufficient concern for environmental and health problems.
In 2010 al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM) kidnapped five French citizens from a uranium mine in Niger, along with two other workers from Mali and Madagascar. The Minister of Mines at the time, Souleymane Abba, said that it was important not to be discouraged by the events, and said that production would continue as normal. AQIM are known to be active in the area. In a separate incident in January 2011, the bodies of two Frenchmen were discovered following their kidnap and murder by AQIM.
- "January 2012: Libya" United Nations Security Council, retrieved 25 April 2012.
- "Niger: Libyan Conflict Impacting Sahel Security" Voice of America, retrieved 26 April 2012.
- "Q&A: Tuareg unrest" BBC News, retrieved 26 April 2012.
- "Mali crisis: Who's who?" BBC News, retrieved 26 April 2012.
- "Niger warns of new Tuareg rebellion" News 24, retrieved 26 April 2012.
- "Niger rebels kidnap Chinese uranium executive" Reuters, retrieved 12 April 2012.
- "A Bridge From China To Niger" Wikileaks, retrieved 4 April 2012.
- "France confirms al-Qaeda kidnap at Niger uranium mine" BBC News, retrieved 24 April 2012.
- "Niger's uranium mining carries on despite al-Qaida kidnappings" The Guardian, retrieved 24 April 2012.
- "France says Niger Frenchmen 'killed in cold blood" BBC News, retrieved 24 April 2012.