American kidnapped in southern Niger, officials say

A citizen of United States living in Niger has been kidnapped, a Nigerien Ministry of Defense source informed ABC News.

Philip Walton, 27 years old was kidnapped from his backyard in the West African nation after his assailants requested for money from him and only offered $40, according to the source.

Walton lives with his wife and young daughter on a farm near Massalata, a small village located in southern Niger near the country’s border with Nigeria.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State made a confirmation in an interview with ABC News that an American citizen has been abducted in Niger and that the U.S. government is “providing their family all possible consular assistance.”

The spokesperson declined to make a statement further on the case, citing “privacy considerations,” but added, “When a U.S. citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they carry out their search efforts, and we share information with families however we can.”

The Nigerien Ministry of Defense source briefed  ABC News that the kidnappers are believed to be an armed group from neighboring Nigeria but, for now, the incident is not considered terror-related.

Niger, which is three times the size of California and home to some 22 million people, is one of many nations in Africa’s Sahel region that is inflicted by terrorism and instability. But the Nigerien military has been a close partner to the United States in the combat against regional jihadist groups which includes affiliates of both al Qaeda and ISIS.

Source; ABC news


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