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Officials blame Al Qaeda for killing of French hostages in Niger

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Djibo Tagaza/AP

(Read caption) The Toulousain restaurant where two French nationals were kidnapped at gunpoint late Friday by turbaned men, in Niamey, Niger. A witness was dining inside when he says two men walked in, pulled out guns and told the French citizens to follow them.

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• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

Two French hostages were killed Saturday after a reported rescue attempt ended in a shoot out in Niger.

French and African officials say the hostage attack in the West African country was likely carried out by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has claimed responsibility for a number of kidnappings in recent years.

“This is an escalation.... It is a sign that they are determined to attack states and Western interests to create a zone of insecurity,” said Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, a former Malian defense minister, in an article by Reuters. “Countries are struggling to coordinate their response. This should push countries to implement much more rigorous security measures.”

How the attack happened

Men wearing turbans and clothes common among Niger’s northern desert tribesmen, reportedly stormed a bar in the capital city of Niamey and abducted the two men.

The Nigerien and French military pursued them to the border of Mali, where a gun battle erupted. Officials say it appears that the captors executed the French captives during the rescue attempt.

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