Gunmen stormed the house of a longtime American aid worker in Niger, killing two people before fleeing with the man toward the border with Mali, authorities say. It is believed to be the first time an American citizen has been abducted in the vast Sahel region, where al-Qaeda and criminal gangs have long targeted French nationals and other Europeans for kidnappings and demanded millions of dollars for their release, the AP reports.
"We are aware of reports of the kidnapping of a US citizen in Niger," a State Department official said after the abduction late Friday. "The US Department of State has no higher priority than the safety and security of US citizens overseas." There was no immediate claim of responsibility, though al-Qaeda-linked militants have abducted foreigners in Niger and brought them to northern Mali before. (Read more Niger stories.)