Rebels abduct UN special envoy and three others
Two of the kidnapped persons are Canadian diplomats
Reports from Niamey, Niger, claim that the UN’s special envoy to the country, Robert Fowler has been kidnapped. He was with abducted along with Louis Guay, another UN diplomat from Canada and two others.
According to the Niger’s foreign ministry, Mr. Fowler was in the country on private business and had left Niamey on Sunday morning without informing the authorities.
Mr. Fowler, a veteran Canadian diplomat, was traveling with Louis Guay, another Canadian and a local driver, from the capital city of Niamey.
Their vehicle was found empty on Sunday evening with the engine still running.
Mr. Fowler and his companions visited the gold mining region of Samira before their disappearance, the spokesma added.
Meanwhile a rebel group known as Front des Forces de Redressement – FFR, has claimed responsibility for the abduction of four persons, including the two Canadian diplomats and their driver.
The fourth person’s identity remains unknown at this stage.
Head of the rebel group, Ag Boula, said in a communiqué that this operation is meant to educate the diplomatic corps who have been collaborating with the ruling government of Mamadou Tandja. According to him the hostages are doing well.
It is believed that the region where the diplomats went missing is far from the army and Tuareg rebels’ conflict zone which is in the north.
Mr Fowler who retired from the Canadian foreign service two years after a long career that included postings as ambassador to Italy and the United Nations was appointed as a special envoy to Niger in July.
An official statement from the UN office says that Mr. Fowler, who is based in Canada, was in Niger for meetings with officials.