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17 Mar 2020 | 07:38 AM UTC

Mali: Canadian and Italian nationals kidnapped in Burkina Faso reported free in Kidal March 13 /update 1

Canadian and Italian nationals who were kidnapped in Burkina Faso in December 2018 were reported free in Mali on March 13;kidnapping remains a risk in both countries

security
MLI

Event

Peacekeepers from the MINUSMA announced on Friday, March 13, that the Canadian and Italian nationals who were kidnapped in December 2018, near Bobo Dioulasso (western Burkina Faso) have been found in good health near Kidal after fleeing their captors. No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and the attackers have not been publicly identified.

Context

Burkina Faso declared a state of emergency for the country's border regions, including Est region, on January 1, 2019.

Terrorism has become an increasingly severe security threat in Burkina Faso since 2015. Educational institutions, local government officials, and security forces are specifically targeted. Initially concentrated in the Sahel region, attacks have spread to other regions, including eastern Burkina Faso (Est region) which is also known for high crime rates. Attacks are usually attributed to Ansarul Islam, the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM), as well as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).

Due to the presence of various armed groups, Mali's northern and central regions remain unstable despite a French-led intervention launched in 2013 that drove many extremists from their strongholds.

Advice

The security environment in Mali and Burkina Faso remain complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.

Due to severe threats of terrorism and kidnapping, individuals present in Burkina Faso and Mali are strongly advised to be discreet regarding personal details, particularly information concerning nationality, employment, family, etc. Individuals are also advised to avoid public events and places frequented by Westerners, to remain vigilant at all times, and to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities.