Nigerien soldiers patrol on the road between Agadez and Arlit on September 27, 2010 near Arlit. Gunmen seized seven prisoners, five French nationals, a Togolese and a Madagascan, that are being held by Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in a mountain stronghold in north Mali, according to a Malian source confirmed by French officials in a raid on September 16 on a uranium mining town in the deserts of northern Niger. Army chiefs and counter-terrorism experts from the Sahel region were meeting on September 26, 2010 in southern Algeria in a bid to come to grips with the growing threat of Al-Qaeda-linked militants. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images)