French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed on Sunday that a French journalist who disappeared in Mali last month was likely kidnapped by Islamist terrorists.
Reporter Olivier Dubois was believed to have been kidnapped after his disappearance on April 8.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announced Dubois’s kidnap on May 6 after a video was released that showed him saying he was kidnapped by JNIM (Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin), an al-Qaeda-affiliated group in Mali, and asking his family, friends, and authorities to work for his release.
But French authorities at the time said they were in the process of checking the video, and only confirmed that the reporter had disappeared.
On Sunday, Le Drian told RTL radio that “everything leads us to believe he’s the hostage of a jihadist group.”
RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire has previously said that Dubois was reporting in Gao in northern Mali and did not return to his hotel after lunch on April 8.
Arnaud Froger, head of Africa desk at the RSF, told The Associated Press on May 6 that the NGO was “calling on the authorities to do everything they can, to put every means at their disposal to try to secure his release and to make sure he can be freed without any further delay.”
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 terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and the ISIS terrorist 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.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.