(16 Sep 2010)
1. Pan from wall to Bernard Valero in his office, working at his desk
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Bernard Valero, Foreign ministry spokesman:
"So we can right now confirm that a group of seven people were kidnapped last night in the region of Arlit in Niger. Among this group we have five French citizens, one from Madagascar, the other one, the 7th, from Togo."
3. Mid of Valero looking at his computer
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Bernard Valero, Foreign ministry spokesman:
"So we are here in Paris, we are in permanent contact, permanent touch with two French companies for which these people, these compatriots were working, Areva company and another one. Of course we are also in touch with families of our compatriots."
5. Mid of Valero looking at his computer
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Bernard Valero, Foreign ministry spokesman:
"Not yet, not yet. We don't have any claims, we haven't received any claim or even any clue from the kidnappers. We don't know who they are. That's why its so important and that's what we are trying to do right now, to gather information about what exactly happened last night in Arlit."
7. Mid of Valero in his office
8. SOUNDBITE (French) Bernard Valero, Foreign ministry spokesman:
"We all remember sadly about the brutal assassination of our fellow citizen Michel Germaneau a few months ago, in July so of course it (Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb) could be behind this kidnapping and we can't neglect any lead but there could be some other explanations as well. You know, kidnapping is a very lucrative business for some people so we are in the phase of identification of the possible origin of this kidnapping and we are going to devote all our energy and our force on it."
9. Wide of Valero with TV crew
10. Various of exterior of Areva Headquarters
Seven people working with French nuclear reactor builder Areva were kidnapped overnight in northern Niger, a spokeswoman for the state-owned company said on Thursday.
The seven were kidnapped overnight on Wednesday to Thursday near the town of Arlit, Areva spokeswoman Pauline Briand said.
Two of those abducted, a man and a woman, were Areva employees and French citizens and the five others worked for Areva subcontractor Satom, she said.
Briand declined to provide their nationalities or any further details.
She said the company had not yet received any claim of responsibility for the kidnappings.
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero confirmed the kidnappings and said French authorities are "totally mobilised" to respond to the situation.
Arlit, located in the Sahara region, about 745 miles (1,200 kilometres) northeast of the capital, Niamey, was built to house workers in two large uranium mines nearby.
Uranium, a metal used to make nuclear fuel, is a lucrative export for Niger, and Areva, the world's largest nuclear manufacturer, gets much of its uranium from the desperately poor country.
Areva employees working in Niger have been abducted in the past.
In 2008, the company announced the release of four of its employees, all French nationals, who had been kidnapped by a rebel group, the Movement for Justice, which opposes the mining of ancestral lands.
Al-Qaida's North African affiliate is also active in the region and has targeted French and other European nationals in previous kidnappings.
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or North Africa, claimed responsibility for the July execution of an ailing 78-year-old French aid worker.
Michel Germaneau was slain in Mali three months after his initial abduction in Niger in April.
The leader of al-Qaida's North African branch said the Frenchman was killed in retaliation for the deaths of six al-Qaida members in a military operation in the Sahara.
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