Hard to imagine that the Sahel was ever all that safe, but now the jihad there is stepping up in intensity. “France: Sahel no longer safe after al Qaeda attack,” by John Irish and Abdoulaye Massalaatchi for Reuters, January 9 (thanks to Ken):
PARIS/NIAMEY (Reuters) – France said on Sunday the African Sahel region was no longer safe for its citizens after suspected al Qaeda militants killed two Frenchmen in Niger.
The pair were found dead, apparently killed by their kidnappers on Saturday, after French special forces joined a failed attempt to rescue them in the African state.
“French nationals should be extremely vigilant and careful at all times,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website. “In view of the terrorism threat on the region, no area can be considered safe any longer.”
The Sahel includes Senegal, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad and Northern Nigeria.
The two victims were abducted from a bar, bringing to eight the number of French nationals snatched in Niger since last April. They were the first to be seized in the capital Niamey, far from the lawless desert where Islamist militants, rebels and bandits flourish.
“This heinous crime reinforces the resolve of France to fight against terrorists and terrorism … democracies cannot accept this,” President Nicolas Sarkozy said on a visit to France’s overseas territory of Guadeloupe….