Three Chinese kidnapped in Mali

Three Chinese and two Mauritanians were taken by kidnappers in a kidnapping incident at a Chinese construction site in Mali, according to a 17-day release from the Malian military.

The attack occurred close to the Mauritanian border in the Sahel region, at a construction site about 55 kilometers from the town of Kwala in southwestern Mali. The identity or origin of the attackers is unknown.

The abductees worked for the construction company, according to the Malian armed forces cited by AFP on July 18. Construction equipment was also destroyed, but no further details were provided.

The Mauritanian news agency Al-Akhbar reported that the attackers arrived on motorcycles and set fire to the oil storage tanks before fleeing with the hostages.

The release of the hostages is our top priority,” according to a Malian military officer who requested anonymity. The information could not be independently verified at this time, AFP said.

Malian authorities are struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that first erupted in the north of the country in 2012 and spread to the center of the country and Niger and Burkina Faso, killing thousands and causing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. The economy of Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries, is experiencing a devastating blow.

AFP says kidnappings are common in Mali, both for Malians and foreigners.

French journalist Olivier Dubois was kidnapped in northern Mali on April 8. The 46-year-old freelance journalist, who has lived and worked in Mali since 2015, is the only known French hostage in the world.

He announced his abduction in a video posted on social networks on May 5, explaining that he had been kidnapped in Gao (north) by the Groupe Islamique et Musulman (GSIM), the main jihadist alliance in the Sahel, which is linked to al-Qaeda.