May 05, 2021
The head of Reporters Without Borders says that French journalist Olivier Dubois was kidnapped April 8 while working in Mali’s northern city of Gao.
French journalist Olivier Dubois © Capture Réseaux sociaux
By France 24 with The Associated Press
A video was released Wednesday showing Dubois saying he was kidnapped by the al-Qaida-linked group JNIM. In the video he calls on his family, friends and authorities to work for his release. The video could not be independently verified.
Reporters Without Borders Secretary General and Executive Director Christophe Deloire confirmed the kidnapping to The Associated Press, and called for the reporter’s release.
“We ask the Malian and French authorities to do everything possible to obtain his release and send all our support to his family and loved ones,” he posted on Twitter.
Dubois was reporting in Gao in northern Mali and did not return to his hotel after lunch on April 8, Deloire said. Dubois usually works for LePoint Afrique.
The French Foreign Ministry confirmed his disappearance, saying they are in touch with his family and Malian authorities.
FRANCE 24’s specialist in jihadi movements, Wassim Nasr, shed more light on the situation. Although it was known that Dubois was missing since April 8, “We didn’t know whether he was a hostage or had been invited by a jihadii group,” he said. “But the fact is today, in this video, he says himself that he’s been taken hostage by JNIM, making him the latest French hostage in the region since the liberation of Sophie Pétronin a few months ago.”
Mali has been in turmoil since a 2012 uprising prompted mutinous soldiers to overthrow the president. The power vacuum that resulted ultimately led to an Islamic insurgency and a French-led campaign that ousted the jihadists from the cities they controlled in northern Mali in 2013.
But insurgents remain active and extremist groups affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have moved from the arid north to more populated central Mali since 2015, attacking targets and stoking animosity and violence between ethnic groups in the region.