- Title: NIGER: Niger tightens security for foreigners in wake of Algeria siege
- Date: 21st January 2013
- Summary: VARIOUS OF FRENCH CITIZEN SOPHIE LASSAN WITH HER THREE CHILDREN (SOUNDBITE) (French) PRESIDENT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF FRENCH RESIDENTS IN NIGER, SOPHIE LASSAN, SAYING: "Regarding the French Lycee (high school) in Niamey, it was shut down temporarily to analyse the security and bring up to date all the security measures. About 800 children are actually now staying at home whilst we wait to see how the situation develops." VARIOUS SHOTS OF SOPHIE LASSAN'S CHILDREN PLAYING (SOUNDBITE) (French) PRESIDENT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF FRENCH RESIDENTS IN NIGER, SOPHIE LASSAN, SAYING: "Recently things moved on very quickly and the security measures have tightened even further, particularly for employees of the French government working here in Niger, who are now forbidden to go out of the capital, from Niamey." VARIOUS OF STREET SCENES
- Embargoed: 5th February 2013 12:00
- Location: Niger
- Country: Niger
- Topics: Conflict,International Relations,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA74ZLA64DIL6PV2COCIUV3LB2Y
- Story Text: Niger tightens security for its foreign nationals in the wake of the hostage crisis in neighbouring Algeria.
When French forces took on the Islamist rebels in neighbouring Mali, many French, American and German citizens in the Nigerien capital Niamey became more anxious and careful about their security.
But when a bloody siege in its other neighbour Algeria turned bloody after more than 700 Algerians and more than 125 foreigners were taken hostage, security became the number one concern on everybody's mind.
Niger's border with Mali is less than 200km (130 miles) away. The border with Algeria, scarred by the civil war with Islamist insurgents in the 1990s which claimed 200,000 lives, is further away.
The Lycee France, a French school in Niamey closed down activities for a week.
"It was shut down temporarily to analyse the security and bring up to date all the security measures. About 800 children are actually now staying at home whilst we wait to see how the situation develops," said French citizen Sophie Lassan who lives in Niamey with her family.
With the possibility of Islamist extremists infiltration through the West African porous borders, Lassan said everybody needs to observe a stricter routine.
"Recently things moved on very quickly and the security measures have tightened even further, particularly for employees of the French government working here in Niger, who are now forbidden to go out of the capital, from Niamey," Lassan said.
She said the measures will be tightened even further, with some citizens being asked to come on their mission to Niger without their families.
The American Embassy in Niamey has asked American nationals to avoid going out at night and in groups.
"It's understandable that we can't move freely at this time," Kelley Bishop, an American citizen said.
Only 500 Km (350 miles) separate Niamey from Gao, awash with a cocktail of rebels who may be looking for the next country to take refuge in.
Though the security presence on the streets of Niamey has increased, German NGO GTZ is pulling out its foreign staff soon.
Bishop, who doesn't work for GTZ, says he is not planning to leave.
"I think that as long as we take certain security precautions ourselves and we put some confidence as well in Niger's government as well as partners, including France and United States and other partners, we can have a sense of security but just to be conscious of what we are doing, where we are and change certain behaviours for now and hopefully we can get back to normal," Bishop said.
One-eyed veteran Islamist fighter Mokhtar Belmokhtar claimed responsibility on Sunday for the attack on behalf of al Qaeda, and said it will stop such attacks if the French military force stops its intervention to drive Islamist rebels out of north Mali.
Nigeriens in Niamey deplored the situation.
"All this insecurity is not good, neither for us Nigerians who are there, and even more for the expatriates there, who's left their families and came here, and who are forced to confine themselves so that they are not exposed to the risks," said Abdoulaye Boubacar.
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