Monday, October 29, 2007

Third journalist arrested in Niger

A third journalist from Niger has been arrested, stemming from a government crackdown people with alleged links with the Niger People’s Movement for Justice, a Tuareg rebel group.

The Paris-based press-freedom group Reporters Without Borders reported that early in the morning of Thursday, October 25, gendarmes arrived at the home of Daouda Yacouba and took him to a cell in Agadez. Yacouba, a correspondent for the bi-weekly Agadez-based Aïr Info, was placed in a cell with his editor Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, who was arrested October 9.

The third journalist, Moussa Kaka, the manager of the Niamey based Radio Saraouniya, was arrested September 20 and remains in Niamey. Kaka, who has been charged with "complicity in a conspiracy to undermine the authority of the state" and could face life in prison.

Also, on October 6, the government expelled a French journalist, after he spent one month in prison, for his alleged ties to the MNJ rebel group.

Government investigators accuse the journalists of having ties with the MNJ, the Tuareg group responsible for a string of armed attacks in northern Niger and Mali. The two governments signed a cease fire with the MNJ that ended at the end of Ramadan.

MNJ said on Saturday, October 27 they had ambushed and killed 12 soldiers in northern Niger. The military, however, denied this, saying a few soldiers were lightly injured when one of their vehicles ran over a mine near the Algerian border.

The MNJ began its campaign of violence earlier this year when it announced neither of the Malian or Nigerien governments had followed through on a 1995 peace deal that guaranteed greater political representation in the respective capitals. Also, with world uranium prices increasing, Niger has approved new mining claims in the north, an area populated by Tuaregs.

The governments in Niamey and Bamako have officially refused to recognize the MNJ.

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