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Niger Slaves Are No-Shows at Freedom Ceremony

A human-rights group in Niger says the government is to blame for cancellation of a ceremony that was to grant 7,000 slaves their freedom.

The group Timidria had planned to release the slaves in the Ates region near Niger's western border with Mali on Saturday, but the event was called off when none of the slaves showed up.

The rights group says the government intimidated slaves to keep them from attending the ceremony - a charge the government denies.

Niger officially banned slavery in 2003, but human-rights groups say 43,000 people are still in bondage in the West African nation. They are among the 200,000 people enslaved along centuries-old Arab-African Saharan trade routes.

Generations of Africans have been born in slavery, many under the ownership of one family.

Some information for this report provided by AP.