Map of Niger showing the location of Abalak
Map of Niger showing the location of Abalak

Gunmen kidnapped an American aid worker in Niger Friday after storming his home and killing two of the worker's guards.

The abduction took place in Abalak, in the Tahoua region of Niger.

"First they came on a motorbike and killed the guards," the mayor of Abalak, Ahmed Dilo, told Reuters. "Then a 4x4 came and took him away and drove towards the Mali border."

Mali's long, porous border has been vulnerable to armed violence in recent years.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the abduction.

No U.S. citizen had been kidnapped before in Niger where such a seizure of foreigners is rare.

The U.S. Embassy in Niger issued an emergency message for U.S. citizens in the Tahoua region, warning of the high threat of kidnapping and hostage taking.  The message advised Americans in Niger to take appropriate safety precautions and avoid predictable travel patterns.

In a statement, Niger's Interior Ministry said Niger forces were pursuing the kidnappers as they headed toward Mali.

"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," the statement read.