RFI: 2 French journalists kidnapped in north Mali

Associated Press

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Two journalists working for French radio station RFI were kidnapped Saturday in Mali's northern city of Kidal, the station and a Mali military head said.

RFI confirmed the kidnappings on its website, saying that journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon were taken at 1 p.m. by armed men in Kidal and have not been heard from since.

Col. Mamari Camara said he had received a phone call in the afternoon from his men in the field confirming the two reporters had been taken Saturday.

The two were grabbed by several armed men in a 4x4 after they finished an interview with a Tuareg rebel leader, a Kidal city official said on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the press.

Northern Mali last year was seized by a faction of al-Qaida which has used kidnappings of foreigners, especially French citizens, to bankroll its operations.

This week, four Frenchmen kidnapped in Niger three years ago and held in Mali were released.

The global intelligence company Stratfor estimates that al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, has carried out at least 18 kidnappings since 2003, raising an estimated $89 million in ransom payments.

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