Written by: Deutsche Welle
Olivier Dubois has appeared in a 21-second video claiming to be in the hands of a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida. He asks for help from the French authorities and family members.
French journalist Olivier Dubois has appeared in a video calling on French authorities to “do everything in their power” to free him from Islamist militants in northern Mali.
“I’m Olivier Dubois. I’m French. I’m a journalist. I was kidnapped in Gao on April 8 by the JSIM,” he says in the video, referring to a jihadi organization with ties to the North African al-Qaida group.
“I’m speaking to my family, my friends and the French authorities for them to do everything in their power to free me.”
French official, RSF confirms kidnapping
The 21-second video with a man resembling Dubois, a correspondent in Mali for multiple outlets over many years, was not immediately verified independently.
A French Foreign Ministry official was able to confirm on Wednesday that Dubois was missing in Mali.
“We confirm the disappearance in Mali of Mr. Olivier Dubois. We are in contact with his family as well as with the Malian authorities.” the official told French news agency AFP.
French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said authorities are currently making usual checks on the video and declined to provide more details.
“We are reiterating our demand not to go to that area (in Mali) that is especially risky,” he said.
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) appealed to French and Malian authorities to “do everything in their power” to secure Dubois’ release.
Dubois was reporting in Gao and did not return to his hotel after lunch on April 8, RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said.
“We were informed two days after his disappearance,” Deloire wrote. “In consultation with the outlets that typically employ him, we took the decision to not make this kidnapping public, to avoid potentially endangering a swift positive resolution [of the situation].”
Malian authorities have not yet commented on the case.
Mali in turmoil
Mali has seen waves of unrest since a 2012 uprising prompted soldiers to overthrow the president, leaving room for insurgents to gain a foothold in the north of the country.
Rebels remain active and extremist groups with links to al-Qaida and the so-called Islamic State group have moved closer toward the more populated center of the country since 2015, attacking targets and triggering conflict between ethnic groups.