[Xinhua, 7 July; Reuters, 10 July] On 10 July, rebel group the Movement of Niger People for Justice (MNJ) released a Chinese company executive they had kidnapped in the Agadez region of northern Niger on 6 July. Zhang Guohua is a deputy general manager of the Societe des Mines d'Agelik, a uranium prospecting company floated in Niger by China Nuclear Engineering & Construction (Group) Corp. The MNJ group claimed that the kidnapping was in response to the company's policy of employing people from the capital city of Niamey, some 1000km south, rather than locals. A military source said that the Chinese company has suspended uranium exploration in the region following the kidnap and rebel calls for foreign mining companies to withdraw expatriate staff. In April, the MNJ group attacked the Imouraren uranium mine in north Niger, which is operated by Areva of France. A local security guard was killed and three others wounded during the attack. In 1995, a peace treaty was reached to end years of rebellion by nomadic northern tribesmen who complained of being disenfranchised by the government. The MNJ has claimed responsibility for a number of recent attacks in the north amid demands for better implementation of the 1995 accord.
Further informationWNA's Uranium in Niger and Gabon information paper