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We abducted Canadian diplomats: al-Qaeda faction

An al-Qaeda North African group says it kidnapped two Canadian diplomats who went missing in Niger last year, the first time anyone has claimed responsibility for taking the pair.

An al-Qaeda North African group says it kidnapped two Canadian diplomats who went missing in Niger last year, the first time anyone has claimed responsibility for taking the pair.

In a recorded message, Al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa said it was holding Robert Fowler — a UN special envoy who has previously served as a Canadian ambassador in Italy —  and his assistant, Louis Guay.

The group, known by the French acronym AQMI, also said it is holding four Western tourists hostage. AQMI said all six were abducted in Niger and issued the alleged names of the tourists. None of the claims have been confirmed.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa also said it was aware of the report, but had no further comment.

Earlier this month, the news service Agence-France Press said that sources had viewed a videotape that reportedly showed the two Canadians introducing themselves.

The vehicle in which Fowler and Guay were travelling was found Dec. 14 in good working condition about 40 kilometres northeast of the capital, Niamey. Cellphones, a camera and jacket were reportedly found in the vehicle.

The secretary general appointed Fowler as special envoy to Niger last year.

He is also a former deputy minister of National Defence and served as foreign policy adviser to prime ministers Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien. He most recently served as senior fellow at the University of Ottawa's new graduate school of public and international affairs.

With files from the Associated Press

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