The BBC reports that France has sent dozens of soldiers to Niger’s capital Niamey to hunt for seven hostages kidnapped by suspected Islamist militants. The troops are using reconnaissance planes to search the Sahara Desert for the captives who were seized last week from their homes at Arlit. The hostages — including five French citizens — were last seen heading toward the neighboring countries of Mali and Algeria with about 30 captors before being seemingly swallowed by the vast desert. The French government believes they were probably abducted by gunmen from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Five of the hostages are French. The other two are from Madagascar and Togo. A defense official in Mali said the neighboring country would allow overflights by the searchers.
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