Gunmen kidnap 20 villagers in central Mali

Map of Mali. CGTN

Gunmen seized about 20 people in volatile central Mali, with nine remaining in detention Wednesday after their captors released the other hostages, local and security officials said.

The kidnapping occurred on Tuesday during a weekly market in the village of Farabougou, near the central Malian town of Niono, according to Boukary Coulibaly, the village chief.

A youngster was killed during the kidnapping, he said, adding that the “armed men” afterwards released some hostages, mostly women and children.

“At the moment, they’re holding nine people,” Coulibaly said.

Mali has been struggling to quell a jihadist insurgency which emerged in 2012 and has since spread into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Central Mali has become an epicentre of the conflict, prey to routine jihadist attacks, ethnic strife and tit-for-tat killings.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have died in the conflict in Mali to date.

A local elected official and a security official in central Mali both confirmed the kidnapping to AFP.

An official at Mali’s security ministry said the government was “doing everything to obtain the freedom of the nine civilians who are still detained”.