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Niger has launched an army operation to hunt down a kidnapped American aid worker, the west African country's interior minister said Saturday.The aid worker -- the first US national to be kidnapped in Niger -- was abducted Friday night in the town of Abalak, in the restive central Tahoua region. Bazoum said the abductors were "jihadists or bandits" seeking to sell the American to Islamist extremists operating in Mali.Niger's long, porous borders make it occasionally vulnerable to the armed violence in neighbouring countries, including Mali.Last week, 22 of Niger's soldiers were killed when armed men who had travelled from Mali launched an attack on a refugee camp in the town of Tazalit.
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