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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Mali security forces free official held by jihadists

A senior government official and a journalist abducted by suspected jihadists in Mali have been freed, a security source told AFP on Tuesday.

Makan Doumbia, the prefect of Tenenkou commune in central Mali, “was freed Monday thanks to an action by state security”, the source told AFP.

Doumbia, the most senior government representative in the commune, was abducted in the Mopti region on May 8 last year.

He is now being treated in intensive care in the capital Bamako, said the source, who refused to comment on claims that Doumbia was freed under a prisoner exchange.

A son of the official, who declined to give his full name, also confirmed the prefect had been released.

“I was able to speak to my father. He is very tired. But the most important thing is that he is free. I am very happy,” said the son.

Malian journalist Issiaka Tamboura, who was kidnapped in central Mali in December, was also released and taken to hospital in Bamako, security and media sources said. 

However, elsewhere in the Mopti region, four hostages taken by suspected jihadists were killed at Toguere-Koumbe last week, according to Kisal, a rights group for nomadic communities.

Kisal announced on its Facebook page Monday that those killed were members of the Bozo ethnic group.

A security source confirmed that “four civilian hostages of terrorists” were found dead at Toguere at the weekend.

Islamist militias linked to Al-Qaeda seized the north of Mali in 2012, but were pushed back by French troops the following year.

A peace agreement signed in 2015 by the Bamako government and armed groups was aimed at restoring stability, but the accord has failed to stop violence by Islamist militants — who have also staged attacks in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

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