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French media, quoting sources close to Nigerien negotiators, estimated the ransom paid for four Frenchmen released 29 October in northern Mali by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) at €20 to €25 million.
There had been media reports that AQIM was seeking €90 million for the four, who are employed by French state-owned nuclear giant Areva and Areva subcontractor Sotem, and were abducted in a September 2010 raid on a residential complex in Arlit, a region of northern Niger known for uranium mining.
AQIM and its derivatives in the southern Sahara and northern Nigeria continue to hold three Frenchmen, a Dutchman, a Swede and a British-South African dual citizen who were in Mali and northern Nigeria in 2011 and 2012.
This service long has discouraged travel to Niger, Mali, southern Algeria, northern Nigeria, northern Mauritania and northern Cameroon, except for heavily guarded facilities, which should be reached only by air.