Gunmen kidnap Chinese and Mauritanian workers in central Mali | Asia-Pacific News


The assailants also destroyed equipment from Chinese and Mauritanian construction companies.

According to the country’s armed forces, gunmen have abducted three Chinese and two Mauritanians from a construction site in southwestern Mali.

The assailants stormed the site on Saturday 55 kilometers (34 miles) from the city of Kwala and left with five trucks and hostages, the Mali Armed Forces (FAMA) reported statement and Facebook.

The men also destroyed equipment, including a crane and dump truck from Chinese construction firm COVEC, and Mauritanian road construction company ATTM, according to the military.

A Malian army official, who requested anonymity, told AFP news agency that the victims were working on road construction in the region.

“Releasing all the hostages is our priority,” he said.

Mauritania news agency Al-Akhbar reported that gunmen arrived on motorcycles and burned equipment and fuel tanks before retreating with captives.

Friends and relatives of journalist Olivier Dubois, abducted in northern Mali on April 8, gather for a solidarity march in Bamako on July 17, 2021 [Annie Risemberg/ AFP]

Mali has been fighting since 2012 to contain violence related to Al Qaeda-affiliated groups and ISIL (ISIS). The fighters have expanded their operations from their forts in the country’s desert in the north to their center, as well as in neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Thousands of people have died and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

Kidnappings of both Malians and foreigners have also been frequent.

On April 8, a French journalist was abducted in northern Mali. In a video of hostages, Olivier Dubois said that the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), the largest alliance of armed groups in the Sahel, had kidnapped him.

Amid the escalation of violence, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on the Security Council to authorize other peacekeeping troops in Mali. Guterres made the request in a July 15 report, according to Reuters.

The proposed increase of 2,069 soldiers and police officers would bring the authorized size of the mission, known as MINUSMA, to 17,278 uniformed personnel, the largest since it was established in 2013.

Guterres said the plan could only work in concert with the Malian authorities’ intensified efforts to strengthen security and improve governance.

Mali is embroiled in political uncertainty after military officials in May staged their second coup in nine months.

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