• France edition
 

Two French nationals kidnapped in Mali

Published: 25 Nov 2011 09:21 GMT+01:00
Updated: 25 Nov 2011 08:01 GMT+01:00

A gang kidnapped two French nationals at gunpoint from their hotel in the Malian desert on Thursday, local security sources said, the latest in a string of abductions of foreigners in the troubled region.

The two geologists were seized from their hotel in the eastern village of Hombori near the border with Niger, in an assault bearing the hallmark of Al-Qaeda linked Islamist militants.

A Hombori municipality source said seven armed men entered the hotel at about 1am (0100 GMT) on Thursday and made off with their hostages to the north of the country, a hotbed of Al-Qaeda militants.

Later on French radio the Frenchmen's driver described the abduction.

"They (kidnappers) were armed to the teeth. They quickly attacked the guards and then they came towards me pointing their guns, their Kalashnikovs," the driver identified only as Mamadou told radio station Europe 1.

"They attacked me, then they broke down the door of the hotel to get inside" and seized the Frenchmen, he said.

In Paris, French foreign minister Alain Juppé confirmed that the men had been taken "in circumstances that were not yet clear".

The Frenchmen "had not bothered to alert the embassy or consulate" in Mali's capital Bamako to their presence, a French diplomatic source added.

The latest kidnap brings to six the number of French hostages in the Sahel area, with the group known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) still holding four nationals abducted in Niger in September 2010.

Northern Mali is home to a number of AQIM bases used to launch attacks and kidnappings in the Sahel region on the southern side of the Sahara that includes parts of Mali, Algeria, Niger and Mauritania.

The two geologists were employed by a cement works in the region owned by the Malian firm Mande Construction Immobiliere and funded by the World Bank, according to a diplomatic source.

They were seized a day after a former French military official involved in efforts to free the hostages in Niger was shot and wounded in the shoulder.

An Italian and two Spaniards kidnapped in Algeria in October are also believed to be held by AQIM, although the group has not claimed responsibility.

At a regional security meeting in Bamako this week, delegates complained that a lack of support by Algeria for military operations against AQIM was a serious setback to efforts to crack down on the group.

"We must recognise that up against a transnational enemy, which is well organized and disposes of enormous financial and material means, we need to develop further our capacity to carry out joint multinational operations," Mali's army chief General Gabriel Poudiougou said Monday.

Negotiations for the release of the four Frenchmen, who were among a total of seven people snatched by AQIM in the uranium mining town of Arlit in Niger, have been complicated by the fallout from the conflict in Libya.

Thursday's kidnapping came the same day as news that a French woman aid worker seized two days ago in Yemen's restive south had been released.

AQIM grew out of Algeria's Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which took part in a civil war there that has now ended. Since 2007, AQIM has launched a range of operations in the vast Sahel strip south of the Sahara.

Operating from their bases in northern Mali, the radical Islamists have carried out attacks on troops and civilians, kidnappings, particularly of Westerners, of whom several were executed.

AQIM is also engaged in trafficking of various kinds, including weapons and drugs.

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ten ways expats in France drive you mad
Ten ways expats in France can drive you mad. Can you guess what this one is about? Photo: Shutterstock

Ten ways expats in France drive you mad

This week The Local France has been asking readers about the things their fellow countrymen and women do that embarrass them or drive them mad. Needless to say we’ve had plenty of responses. READ  

France welcomes 40 Iraqi Christian refugees
The first of hundreds of Iraqi refugees have arrived in France. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

France welcomes 40 Iraqi Christian refugees

Some 40 Iraqi Christians were flown into Paris on Thursday as they seek refuge from the Islamic extremists who have captured the northern reaches of Iraq. French authorities expect to receive hundreds more. READ  

French pensioner told to prove he is alive
"Prove your alive" the bureaurats told one French pensioner. Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP

French pensioner told to prove he is alive

A retired Frenchman became embroiled in bureaucratic nightmare after he was denied a refund through his state health insurance on the grounds he was dead. He has been asked to prove otherwise. READ  

Liberation of Paris
When Ernest Hemingway took back the Ritz bar
Ernest Hemingway, who famously liberatied the Ritz bar in Paris (after the Germans had gone). Photo: AFP

When Ernest Hemingway took back the Ritz bar

Writer Ernest Hemingway's role in the Liberation of Paris from Nazi forces 70 years ago has become the stuff of legend. He was on a one-man mission to liberate the famous bar at the Ritz Hotel from the Germans. READ  

'Marine Le Pen is the 21st century Joan of Arc'
Brigitte Bardot thinks Marine Le Pen is the 21st century Joan of Arc. Photo: Wikicommons/AFP

'Marine Le Pen is the 21st century Joan of Arc'

In a new interview one-time French sex symbol Brigitte Bardot has likened the head of France’s anti-immigration National Front party to the iconic French historical figure of Joan of Arc. READ  

France armed Syrian rebels 'months ago'
Freance says it armed Syrian rebels "months ago". Photo: AFP

France armed Syrian rebels 'months ago'

France supplied arms to rebels fighting the government in Syria "months ago", French President François Hollande said on Thursday. READ  

France's mussel growers gripped by ongoing crisis
In future France may be forced to import more and more mussels to satisfy demand. Photo: Ming-Yen Hsu/flickr

France's mussel growers gripped by ongoing crisis

In future “les moules” you eat in France may longer be homegrown after mussel producers in the west of the country have reported an "unprecedented" crisis due to poor harvests. They are demanding the state hand out emergency aid. READ  

Fruit and veg prices tumble in France
Nice weather has caused Fruit and veg prices to drop in France. Photo: David Flores/Flickr

Fruit and veg prices tumble in France

Good weather and weak demand have sent fruit and vegetable prices tumbling in France this summer. However, one of France’s favorite edibles is poised to spike in cost. READ  

Camel bites baby's head at circus in France
A circus camel in France has left a baby with "multiple fractures" after it bit him on the head. Photo: Toni Paya/Flickr

Camel bites baby's head at circus in France

A four-month-old baby boy is in hospital after a circus camel bit his head leaving him with multiple fractures, French police said on Thursday. The incident comes just weeks after a lion wounded a toddler at another French circus. READ  

VIDEO: New horror movie set in Paris catacombs
A new horror flick takes place in Paris's catacombs. Photo: Screengrab/Youtube

VIDEO: New horror movie set in Paris catacombs

The Paris catacombs, known to its fans as the "kingdom of the dead", has provided the setting for a brand new horror flick that hit cinemas in France this week. Check out the trailer, though it may make you hesitate about heading below ground ever again. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Ten things you need to know about the Liberation of Paris:
Travel
Watch this impressive time lapse video and you'll want to move to Paris
National
Veiled Muslim woman on a French beach prompts politician's angry rant
Travel
Forget Paris and Provence where are the least touristy areas of France?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The battle to liberate Paris from the Nazis
National
What France means to you in just one tweet
National
15 French 'false friends' you need to watch out for
International
12 reasons to invest in Paris and seven not to
National
French hamlet 'Death to Jews' mulls name change
National
French tourist caught in Pompeii brothel romp
International
'Forget the Anglo-media's image of France, the reality is much different'
Culture
VIDEO: Francophile Robin Williams enjoyed poking fun at the French
Travel
Six reasons why France is the world's top tourist destination
International
Remembering the 'forgotten campaign' in the liberation of France
Gallery
VIDEO: French bucket list - The 12 best things to do in France
International
Do three French cities deserve to be in top 10 "World 's Most Unfriendly"?
Gallery
Don't make a faux pas! Ten things not to do when working in France
Health
Ebola: What is the risk of it coming to France?
Health
Are the French really a nation of smokers?
Culture
Frightened by the prospect of long French dinners? You're not alone
National
'Stay in Paris in August? You'd have to be crazy'
International
Calais migrant crisis: 'People will be killed if nothing is done'
Culture
Paris is closed for August, but will it always be like that?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se