No word on whether this had anything to do with Stephanie Chance's tragic death last October. Here's what the Country Director passed along:
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 17, 2011UPDATE: Apparently it was Al-Qaeda:
Peace Corps has suspended its program in Niger due to ongoing concerns about volunteer security. All 98 volunteers are safe and accounted for and have been safely evacuated to another country. Volunteers will take part in a transition conference and if possible will be offered the option to complete their service in another Peace Corps country.
Peace Corps will continue to assess the safety and security climate in Niger. The safety and security of volunteers is the Peace Corps' highest priority.
"The Peace Corps has been committed to development in Niger for nearly five decades," said Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams. "We have excellent relationships with Nigerien people and communities and we are grateful for the strong partnership we have had with counterpart organizations and the Government of Niger."
Prior to the suspension, Peace Corps had operated in Niger without interruption since 1962. Over 3,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Niger since the program was established, working in the areas of Agriculture/Natural Resource Management, Health, Education and Municipal Community Development.
suspension came after a purported spokesman for al-Qaida's North Africa branch, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, claimed responsibility last week for kidnapping the two Frenchmen who later died during a failed rescue attempt.