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Employees of French firm abducted in Niger

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • French nuclear energy company Areva beefs up security
  • The seven were kidnapped in the town of Arlit
  • Niger

(CNN) -- Seven people linked to a French nuclear energy company were kidnapped in the West African nation of Niger Wednesday night.

An employee of Areva and his wife were among those abducted in the northern town of Arlit, the company said. The other five were subcontractors who worked for the French construction firm Vinci, said Leila Touiti, a company spokeswoman.

Five of the abducted are French nationals, French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters.

Areva and Vinci have beefed up security measures for their employees in the area. Both companies are working closely with Nigerian and French authorities to secure the release of the hostages.

Areva has been mining uranium for the past four decades in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world.

French director Michel Germaneau was abducted in Niger and executed in July in nearby Mauritania. A video showed Germaneau's photo along with images of the French flag and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb's black-and-white flag.