France is deploying special forces and more equipment to Niger to improve security of the French nuclear company Areva, fearing a backlash in reprisal for French-led war in Mali, a report says. Over 70 percent of French electricity comes from nuclear reactors while much of the uranium used for fuel is extracted in Niger by Areva whose production sites are located in the towns of Arlit and Imouraren in the African country, south of Algeria, French magazine Le Point reported. The deployment came after the January 16 deadly hostage-taking incident when a group of gunmen stormed a gas plant near Algeria’s border with Libya, kidnapping dozens of foreigners and a group of Algerian workers. The attackers, reportedly linked to the fighters in neighboring Mali, said they had carried out the attack in retaliation for the French-led war in Mali. France launched the war on January 11, under the pretext of halting the advance of the fighters who control the north of Mali. The United States, Canada, Britain, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark have said they would support the French war in Mali.
Meanwhile, the French-led war in Mali has forced Paris to increase security at home. The police and army presence, according to the magazine, has risen at government buildings, famous tourist sites, and subway and railway stations.Security has also been increased around French President Francois Hollande who came to power in May 2012. In addition, armed French soldiers are reported to patrol inside the metro, ride trains and watch main streets like the Champs-Elysees. Presently, France has over 2,100 forces in Mali while its Western allies have provided Paris with logistical support. France has also received intelligence and logistic support from the United States. The Economic Community of West African States has also pledged to throw their support behind France by sending some 5,800 soldiers to Mali. Some political analysts believe that Mali’s abandoned natural resources, including gold and uranium reserves, could be one of the reasons behind the French war. MR/MA