French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Tuesday vowed to do all he can to free the seven hostages seized by Al Qaeda in Niger last week.
The leader of the group’s North African wing, Abou Zeid, has admitted snatching the foreign workers, including five French nuclear experts.in the north of the country, which is rich in uranium.
Speaking at the United Nations in New York, Kouchner said: “It was not a real surprise to learn that al-Qaida was behind this kidnapping. What is certain is that the French, their allies and Europe will continue to make every effort and use all the means at our disposal to free these hostages.”
Niger is strategically important to French interests.
It provides a third of the uranium used in France’s nuclear power plants.
Firms based there have started to evacuate their expatriate staff over fears that Al-Qaeda could carry out more kidnappings.