Thursday, December 18, 2008

Villager recalls seeing vehicle that carried UN envoys

NIAMEY/OTTAWA — A Niger villager says he watched the vehicle carrying two Canadian UN envoys and their driver disembark from a ferry early Sunday evening and head down the road from which they ultimately vanished.

“I personally saw their car when it was unloaded from the ferry and there were three people on board,” said Illiassou Abdou, the owner of a small café in Farié, a village close to the landing area. That was at 6:30 p.m. local time.

By late Wednesday afternoon, Robert Fowler, the UN special envoy to Niger, Louis Guay, an aide, and their locally based driver had not been heard from in more than three days.

But the United Nations was not yet willing to declare that Mr. Fowler and his companions had been kidnapped. Nor was his precise role in the impoverished West African nation made clear.

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