Thursday 23 May 2013

Uranium mine in northern Niger attacked by suicide bomber.

Thirteen workers at uranium mine operated by French company Areva were injured when the site was attacked by a suicide bomber on Thursday 23 May 2013, killing one worker and injuring fourteen more; the bomber was also killed. The man, described as wearing a military uniform, drove a vehicle into a crown of worker at the Somair Mine in Arlit, before detonating a bomb in the vehicle. A military barracks a nearby Agadez was attacked by another car bomber, an attack which was followed up by an assault by insurgents with small-arms; a total of 21 people are reported to have died in this attack, including 18 soldiers. A Nigerien government spokesman has suggested the attack was carried out by either al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) or splinter group Mujao (the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa).

The Areva-owned Somair Mine in Arlit, Niger. Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images.

The Sahel region has seen a sharp rise in militant Islamic attacks since the downfall of the Gadaffi Regime in Libya, which led to a flood of small arms into the area. Neighboring Mali was the subject if a major uprising in 2011, with militant groups seizing control of much of the north of the country, and only being expelled with the help of the French military. Since this event French owned facilities in the region have been on high alert against reprisal attacks, and troops from France have been deployed to protect some potential targets.

Ariva own majority shares in three uranium mines in Niger, though they are currently negotiating to sell one of these to the China National Nuclear Corporation. The company extracted about 4500 tonnes of Uranium in Niger in 2011, including roughly 3000 tonnes from the Somair facility.

See also Over 60 feared dead in Darfur gold mine collapseOil spill in Bayelsa State, NigeriaUranium mining to begin in TanzaniaDouble pipeline explosion in northeast Libya and Tourists attacked on Erte Ale volcano.

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