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Niger arrests 30 in hunt for Sahara migrant traffickers

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger has arrested around 30 people, including defense and security personnel, as part of a crackdown on human traffickers after the bodies of dozens of migrants were found in the Sahara desert last month, the government said.

Government spokesman Marou Amadou gave no details of the identities of those detained, but it may suggest that the migrants could have been helped by the authorities.

"The government is determined to dismantle the entire network of human trafficking," he said on state television on Friday.

Following the deaths of the 92 migrants, most of them women and children, Niamey announced plans to immediately shut down all camps used by migrants in the north.

Still, the flow of migrants across Niger - which acts as a corridor for illegal migration from sub-Saharan Africa into north Africa and Europe - has not abated.

Niger arrested 150 people trying to cross the border into Algeria in early November and sent them to the town of Arlit.

And on November 4, 77 migrants were rescued in the desert after a puncture halted their car crossing the Sahara between Algeria and Niger.

Drought-prone Niger is ranked by the United Nations as the least developed country on earth and a large portion of those who cross the desert towards north Africa originate from there.

Some seek work or beg in Algeria and Libya and return back to Niger after saving money.

(Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalaki; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Alison Williams)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/131116/niger-arrests-30-hunt-sahara-migrant-traffickers