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Old 22 Jan 2009
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Tourists kidnapped...again?!

For your information....

BBC NEWS | Africa | Europeans 'kidnapped in Sahara'

Early report so any further more accurate information wouldbe good.

Such a terrible shame if true as Mali was one of my favourite countries on my recent trip through the continent.

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Old 22 Jan 2009
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According to this swiss report
Zwei Schweizer in Niger entführt (Nachrichten, NZZ Online)
they were attending the festival at Anderamboukane, east of Gao.

It appears to be in the same general area to where 2 Canadian UN staff were kidnapped in December (still not released).

Two Austrians who were kidnapped in Tunisia this time last year, were released in Northern Mali in November, and it was reported (in the NYT) that a $2m ransom was paid.


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Old 24 Jan 2009
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More details on the events here:

Search on for kidnapped tourists: Africa: News: News24

Nationalities involved are reported as: British, Swiss and German. Some of the party managed to escape. It sounds like they were travelling with the Zenith travel agency in Mali, 30km from the Niger border.
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Old 1 Feb 2009
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Interesting couple of paragraphs from a reuters article on the latest Sahara kidnappings
Al Qaeda holding Europeans taken in Mali - military | Reuters

"Salafists are offering enormous sums of money to any terrorist group who brings them white Westerners, but with the twin conditions that they are not American nationals and they are not captured on Malian territory."

"Al Qaeda was wary of provoking an armed response from the United States and did not want to anger Malian authorities, the military source said. Prominent Islamists from North Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan sheltered in the hills around Kidal in northeastern Mali, he said."

Doesn't say who the source is, other than 'Malian Official/s'.

The business of not being kidnapped in Mali is interesting. The kidnappers tend to end up there in any case (as in 2003 and 2008) and no one is clear whether the latest event took place in Niger and Mali. Probably a moot point in any case. The Malian source may be trying to make Mali look better. Both Niger and Mali have made their respective denials, which also helps the kidnappers by slowing down any official response. On the US nationality issue - I don't know that I would want to risk claiming to be a US national on the back of this report (not that I am). That bit seems equally odd to me.

The 2008 saga moved so very slowly and this one seems to be no better if the last couple of weeks have been anything to go by. Again, its a pity that details about the 2008 event are still so hard to come by -its the only way these events can be understood and the lack of clarity in that case means that very little of the modis operandi of these groups can be learned.
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