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French defence minister heads to Niger

France's minister of defence travels on Monday to Niger following the kidnapping and murder of two French nationals

AFP, Monday 10 Jan 2011
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France Defence Minister Alain Juppe travelled on Monday to Niger for talks with officials there after two French hostages died during an attempt to rescue them from suspected Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Juppe's visit comes two days after the young Frenchmen were found dead in the west African desert state after a failed rescue operation by Niger and French troops.

French anti-terror police have already arrived in Niger to investigate the deaths, officials in Paris said.

One of the dead hostages was an aid worker who had been due to marry a Nigerien woman next week. The other was his best man who had just arrived in Niamey for the ceremony, according to France's Journal du Dimanche.

A Nigerien government spokesman said Sunday that three Nigerien security forces had been killed in the attack on the kidnappers, without elaborating on the circumstances of their deaths.

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