As informed by a local official of the government, an American citizen was kidnapped on Tuesday, in west African country of Niger. The kidnappers were armed with guns and have demanded a ransom from the family of the victim.
The person, Philipe Nathan Walton, was abducted from his farm in Masalata, Niger late night. The ransom call was made to his father, who lives about a kilometre away from the farm. There have been no claims about the attack and investigation is underway.
An official from the US State Department stated that he knows about the abduction and has pledged full support to the family of Walton. They are working in collaboration with the local authorities to carry out searches.
Extremist attacks have been increasing day by day in Niger. They are linked to both Islamic State Group and to Al-Qaeda. Just 2 months earlier, the Islamic State-linked militants took the life of 6 French aid workers and a Niger guide who was with them at a wildlife park in the capital.
This recent kidnapping increases the number of hostages under the extremists’ group to seven in Niger.
Extremist groups in Niger
“Extremists are abducting westerners from the Sahel region to advance their goals, whether for ransom, for the spotlight, or to ramp up the pressure on local and international governments,” Laith Alkhouri stated, who is a counterterrorism specialist at an intelligence advisory group from Dubai.
A German resident, Jorg Lang, was captured in April 2018. He is also alleged to be held by the IS group.
The other foreign hostages alleged to be detained by al-Qaida-linked militants are from Romania, Australia, Colombia and South Africa