US aid worker detained in Niger

A US aid worker is reported to have been seized and his two guards killed in western Niger.

The mayor of the town of Abalak, Ahmed Dilo said he was driven towards the border with Mali.

“Gunmen arrived on a motorbike and then an all-terrain vehicle, first killing the guards and then taking the aid worker away in the car,” he said.

Niger has been less prone to kidnappings than Mali where militant groups are more active.

A French-led military operation banished Islamist fighters from towns in northern Mali in 2013, but militant groups still roam the extensive desert region.

Niger is trying to prevent violence spreading from Mali on its western border as well as battling Boko Haram militants carrying out raids across Niger’s southern frontier with Nigeria.

A Malian refugee camp in the region containing Abalak was attacked a week ago and 22 soldiers were killed.

As yet it is unclear who seized the aid worker in Niger.

He worked for the YWAM (Youth with a Mission) NGO, sources told Radio France International and had lived in the area since the 1990s and spoke the local Tamachek language.

One of the two guards killed is reported to be a member of Niger’s armed forces.