Abducted Dutch tourist in Mali presumed alive

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A Dutchman and four other tourists who were kidnapped in Mali last week are probably still alive, the West African state’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

In two separate incidents in northern Mali, a Dutchman, a South African and a Swede were abducted in the historic trading town of Timbuktu, while two Frenchmen were kidnapped from a hotel. A German citizen was killed after resisting in the first attack.

Asked on France 24 television whether he knew if the five were still alive, Foreign Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga replied: "We think so, yes. For us the main priority is to rescue the hostages alive, using all possible means."

Mr Boubeye Maiga added France and Mali were cooperating in their efforts to free the hostages, but refused to confirm whether forces from former colonial power France were directly involved on the ground.

Mali said on Wednesday it had stepped up security in its cities, including the capital Bamako, following the abductions.

Mali has been criticised by neighbours and Western partners for not doing enough to tackle bandits, local al Qaeda militants and other groups operating in the vast Sahel region covering Niger, Mauritania, Algeria and Mali.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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