Two International Red Cross staff kidnapped in Mali
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Two members of the International Committee of the Red Cross were kidnapped in northern Mali on Saturday, the organization said in what was the latest kidnapping in the troubled West African country.
Abductions — a common occurrence in Mali, which has been facing a security and political crisis since jihadist and separatist insurgencies broke out in the north of the country in 2012.
Jihadists associated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have extended their operations to central Malia and neighboring Niger to Burkina Faso. Thousands of civilians, police and military personnel have been killed across the region, and more than two million people have fled their homes.
“We confirm the abduction of two of our colleagues this morning,” — The ICRC said, adding that the incident took place between Gao and Kidal in the north of the country.
The ICRC, which has been in the country for 32 years, confirmed that it is “neutral, independent and impartial” and asked that no action be taken assumptions about the incident, “so as not to interfere with its resolution.”
“The ICRC regrets the incident and demands the release of its staff”, — Aminata Alassan, ICRC public relations officer, told AFP.
Insecurity in northern Mali has worsened in recent months as Prime Minister Chogel Kokalla Maiga cut off a visit to the region in February due to security threats.
Due to the weakening of state control in some parts of the country, kidnappings have become commonplace, the motives of which range from ransom demands to acts of retaliation.
In February, a World Health Organization doctor who was kidnapped in Mali at the end of January.
In May, armed men abducted three Italians and a citizen of Togo in the south-eastern region of the country.
Unrest spread beyond Mali to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
To Burkina – Faso American nun was kidnapped by jihadists last April and released in August.
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