Up until a few years ago, Timbuktu was one of the most visited travel destinations in Africa, but it is now deemed to be too dangerous to visit by several foreign embassies because of kidnappings by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in the region.
COMMENT: After two French expats were kidnapped in the middle of the night from their hotel in the Malian town of Hombori on Thursday (November 24), today's mid-day kidnapping has clearly rattled the expat community in Mali. Since 2003, more than 50 Europeans and Canadians since 2003, with a projected total ransom collection of some US$130 million.
For the benefit of our readers, resisting an armed kidnapping is not recommended because it is the one moment when kidnappers are at risk of being identified or stopped from carrying out their endeavor. Hence, they are very likely to summarily shoot and kill anyone who refuses to comply.
I recall the kidnapping of a Japanese-Peruvian businessman some years ago who was abducted from his office in Lima. After being pushed into the back of a van he began to scream loudly in the foolish hope of attracting attention, at which point he was executed on the spot. Consequently, it is far better to endure a kidnapping and live to be rescued or ransomed than to expose oneself to being killed unnecessarily.
Assuming that it is AQIM that is behind this week's kidnappings of six foreigners, travelers and expats in Mali and Niger should take exceptional security precautions, register with their embassies and adhere to travel warnings.
Timbuktu, also spelled Timbuctoo (on some maps), is a town in the West African nation of Mali situated 15 km (9.3 mi) north of the River Niger on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. The population is roughly 58,000.