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Mali: Gunmen Abduct 3 Chinese, 2 Mauritanian Workers

Gunmen abducted three Chinese nationals and two Mauritanians from a construction site in northern Mali on Saturday when they raided the site for equipment, the army said.

The raid happened 55 kilometres (34 miles) from the town of Kwala, a regular transit point for companies moving through Mali’s desert north, the army said in a statement.

The men also destroyed equipment including a crane and dump trucks belonging to Chinese construction firm COVEC, and Mauritanian road-building company ATTM, according to the army.

A Malian army official, who requested anonymity, told the AFP news agency that the victims were working on road construction in the region.

“The release of all the hostages is our priority,” he said.

Later that evening, gunmen attacked a road checkpoint in the country’s central San region, around 400 km from Bamako, and killed three civilians, the army said in a second statement.

No group has yet taken responsibility for either attack.

Mauritania’s Al-Akhbar news agency reported that the gunmen arrived on motorbikes and burned equipment as well as fuel tanks before withdrawing with captives.

Jihadist insurgency started in Mali since 2012 and the Sahel country has struggled to contain the violence linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) affiliated groups.

The fighters have now expanded their operations from their strongholds in the country’s desert north to its centre as well as neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

Abductions have also been frequent, both of Malians and of foreigners.

A Black French journalist, Olivier Dubois, was abducted in northern Mali on the 8th of April. He was captured in a hostage video saying the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), the largest alliance of armed groups in the Sahel, had kidnapped him.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked the Security Council to authorise additional troops for Mali’s peacekeeping mission in response to rising violence by Islamist militants, according to a report seen by Reuters on Friday.

Colonel Assimi Goita officially became president of Mali in June after successfully overthrowing two civilian governments in nine months.

NEWS/PHOTO SOURCE: Al Jazeera | Reuters | AFP

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