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‘Armed men kidnap’ 3 Italians and a Togolese in Mali

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 Armed men kidnapped an Italian couple and their son as well as a Togolese citizen in southeastern Mali a local official and a Malian security source told AFP on Friday They said the kidnappings occurred Thursday night about 100 kilometers 60 miles from the border with Burkina Faso part of a West African region wracked hellip
‘Armed men kidnap’ 3 Italians and a Togolese in Mali

NNN: Armed men kidnapped an Italian couple and their son, as well as a Togolese citizen in southeastern Mali, a local official and a Malian security source told AFP on Friday.

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They said the kidnappings occurred Thursday night about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the border with Burkina Faso, part of a West African region wracked by unrest, kidnappings and conflict blamed on armed jihadists.

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“Armed men in a vehicle kidnapped three Italians and a Togolese about 10 kilometers (six miles) from Koutiala,” according to an official from the Koutiala region who asked not to be identified.

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He said the victims were two Italian adults and their son, as well as a Togolese man, adding that they were all Jehovah’s Witnesses.

A Malian security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said two Italian adults and their son, along with a Togolese man, were kidnapped.

He described the abductees as “religious people.”

He said the kidnappings took place in the city of Sincina, in the southeast of the country, about 100 kilometers from the border with Burkina Faso.

“We are doing everything possible to obtain his release,” the person said, adding that diplomatic lines of communication were open.

– ‘Rigorous controls’ –

The Italian Foreign Ministry’s crisis unit was making “rigorous checks” on “news appearing in different media concerning the kidnapping in Mali of three Italian citizens,” it said in a brief statement.

“Foreign Minister (Luigi) Di Maio is personally following developments in this case,” the statement added.

Several foreigners have been kidnapped across the border in Burkina Faso in recent years.

Kidnappings are frequent in Mali, although the motives range from criminal to political motives.

In most cases, the conditions or circumstances of the release of kidnapping victims are never clearly established.

Mali has been rocked since 2012 by a jihadist insurgency from groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Vast areas of the country are enslaved by countless rebel groups and militias.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes amid the violence that began in the north of the country and spread to the center, and then to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Olivier Dubois, a 47-year-old French freelance journalist who has been living and working in Mali since 2015, was kidnapped more than a year ago.

He himself announced his kidnapping in a video uploaded to social media on May 5, 2021. In it he said that he had been kidnapped in the northern city of Gao by the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM), the main alliance jihadist in the Sahel, who is linked to Al-Qaeda.

On March 13, a video circulated on social media showing a man who appears to be the French journalist addressing his relatives and the French government.

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