Thursday, November 24, 2011

Two French Nationals Kidnapped in Mali

Unidentified gunmen, very possibly members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), converged on a hotel in the town of Hombori [Mali] and abducted two Frenchmen early Thursday (November 24), the first such attack in an area located far from the bases of al-Qaeda-linked militants in the country's north.

According to a hotel employee, the Frenchmen were kidnapped after the gunmen tied up the manager, guard and cook and went in search of the two men, who were working on a site about 20 miles (35 kilometers) outside Hombori where a company is hoping to extract material to produce cement. The French government has already confirmed the kidnapping.

COMMENT: If AQIM is responsible for the abductions, it will be the first such kidnapping by the group in Mali, where they will have to traverse the enormous Niger River. AQIM, once concentrated in its home base of Algeria, has rendered huge swaths of Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Algeria off-limits to foreigners. The militants are best known for kidnapping Westerners for ransom and are currently holding four French hostages, two Spaniards and two Italians.

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