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ICC Note: Acts of Islamic terrorism targeting Christians are increasing dramatically across Africa. Sadly, the same gaps in infrastructure and policing capacity which allow Islamists to flourish also make it difficult to protect impacted Christian communities .
10/31/2013 Africa (Voice of Russia) – Four Frenchmen freed in Niger have returned to Paris. Ex-hostages and their families have reportedly been taken to a crisis unit at the French Foreign Ministry. Seven other French nationals are held hostage – one in Nigeria, four in Syria and two in the Northern-African SAHEL region. Klaas van Walraven, an historian and political scientist working on West Africa, in particular Niger, talked about acticity of Islamist groups in the area with the VoR.
According to media reports, there’re numerous rebel and Islamist groups who are currently active in some parts of Africa, including in Mali. Are most of them linked to al Qaeda? Are there terrorist groups in Niger? 
Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb is also active in Niger besides Mali. On top of that there is Mujao movement, which is also linked to Al-Qaeda and which has also been active in Niger.
How strong are they? Are their attacks frequent?
The activity of these movements has increased through the years. In 2010 there was the terrible kidnapping incident in Arlit. The people who worked in Nabdan have now finally been released as we all heard today. There was a bad kidnapping incident in the capital of Niger in 2011 when two young French boys were snatched from a hotel by what was believed to be Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb. Both boys were killed when the French authorities which have a helicopter base in neighboring area tried to liberate them, and in 2012 there was an attempt of kidnapping in Dakoro in central Niger. They believe that was on the count of the Mujao movement in neighboring Mali. So, indeed there have been bad incidents of kidnappings in Niger in recent years.
So, the terrorism is on the rise there, is that correct?
Yes, and that is of course not astonishing granted what we see from Mali this year and the fact that the Islamists that have been active in Mali have indeed received severe beating from the French forces that intervened there in the beginning of the year but people think that the remaining groups are still based in southwestern Libya. As we all know Libya doesn’t have a very strong central government at the moment since the fall of Gaddafi. And Libya borders Niger, it is part of the Sahara desert and these groups can roam rather freely across the country’s border, so the authorities have a great difficulty to keep these things under control.