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American Aid Worker Kidnapped in Niger Said to Work with YWAM


An American Christian aid worker was kidnapped in Niger after gunmen raided his home and killed two of his guards, authorities said Saturday.

It is believed to be the first time an American citizen has been abducted in Sahel region.

Al Qaeda and criminal gangs frequently target French nationals and other Europeans, demanding millions of dollars for their release, The Associated Press reports.

The gunmen arrived on a motorbike as they were en route toward Mali, Reuters reported.

"We are aware of reports of the kidnapping of a U.S. citizen in Niger," a State Department official said after the abduction late Friday. "The U.S. Department of State has no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas."

A source in Niamey told CBN News that the man is Jeff Woodke, who is known for his work among the Woodabe, a people group in the Sahel region.

He and his wife Else, a Holland native, started a literacy program and shared the Gospel among the natives .

"Please get the church to pray for him," sthe source said on condition of anonymity. "His work is mostly in the Abalak area, among the Woodabe and the Tuareg."

Woodke is reported to work for the Christian organization YWAM (Youth With A Mission). The government of Niger said in a news release Saturday that the has lived in Niger since 1992.

Security forces have been alerted to be on the lookout for a white Toyota Hilux, a vehicle often used by jihadists in the region.

"The president of the republic is personally following the situation and our forces are fully mobilized to capture them and put an end to this disastrous affair," Niger's interior ministry said in a statement.

A Malian refugee camp located near Abalak was attacked one week ago and 22 soldiers were killed. A number of other foreigners remain hostage in the region.

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