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Monday, February 11, 2008

M-N-J (MNJ) Promises to Step up attacks in Niger

The following article was posted in France by a media outlet that has been accused byt the Niger government of having direct connections to the NMJ leadership. Possible conclusion from the article and other related traffic:

  • The MNJ has been a nationalist rebel group, generally without Islamist objectives
  • Islamist Jihadists often practice a perceived quranic and Hadith requirement to warn their enemies to repent before they attack.
  • In the last year before other attacks, MNJ has initatied this practice
  • This warning was released 12 days ago
  • therefore attaks on Areva and other Uranium interests in Niger may be iminent

Paris - Niger's Tuareg rebels will attack uranium mines and convoys in a new phase of their battle against the industry, a leading figure in the rebellion warned in an interview published on Thursday.

The Tuareg Movement of Nigeriens for Justice (MNJ) can mobilise up to 1 000 fighters under military chief Aghali Alambo, the leader of the rebellion Rhissa Ag Boula told French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur.

"We are going to attack the uranium mines, including those of (French nuclear giant) Areva, to stop factories functioning, prevent the exploitation of new quarries, and seize the cargo that is en route to the sea," he said.

"You can't exploit uranium without us," he warned.

Poor and restive Niger finds itself sitting on a surprising treasure trove of uranium. The west African state on the edge of the Sahara is the world's third largest producer of an element whose price has soared.

Areva is Niger's top private employer and has operated two uranium mines in the country for the past 40 years.

The stakes are particularly high for former colonial power France: three-quarters of the nuclear-powered electricity produced by its main electricity company EDF uses uranium imported from Niger.

In April last year, MNJ rebels attacked Areva's biggest uranium project in Niger, demanding better application of the economic aspects of the 1995 peace agreements that ended the first Tuareg rebellion.

The MNJ says peace will not return to the north of Niger without better integration of Tuaregs into the army, paramilitary corps and the local mining sector. Since February 2007 it has carried out attacks on military targets in the area.

Rhissa Ag Boula said this new phase of the Tuareg rebellion would soon see the rebels occupy a dozen urban centres in the uranium-rich north, such as Agadez, Arlit, Iferouane, and In Gall.
"There will be legislative and presidential elections in 2009. This will all happen before then," he said.

President Mamadou Tandja, who refuses to negotiate with the MNJ, in November extended by three months a state of emergency that has reinforced the army's powers in the conflict zone.
The Tuaregs are a grouping of nomadic tribes who have roamed the Sahara since centuries before the countries of the region gained independence from colonial powers.

The Rest @ News 24

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