French aid worker kidnapped in Gao

No claims of responsibility of the abduction of a female employee who worked with a children's NGO.

    A female French aid worker has been kidnapped in Mali's restive north, the French foreign ministry has confirmed.

    Sophie Petronin was abducted in the city of Gao on Saturday, the ministry said, adding that French and Malian authorities were working together "to find and free our compatriot as quickly as possible".

    It was not clear who was responsible for the act, or why the aid worker was taken, according to a Malian commandant Baba Cisse.

    "We immediately launched a search," a Malian security source told AFP news agency, without revealing how she was abducted.

    "French soldiers of the Barkhane force (in Mali) are actively taking part in the search alongside the Malians," a French military source told AFP news agency without giving further details.

    READ MORE: American aid worker abducted in Niger

    A local radio station in Gao said the aid worker was affiliated with Aide Gao, a small nonprofit that helps children suffering from malnutrition. Petronin, who is in her sixties, had been working in Gao for a long time.

    She was taken by a group of men who drove off in a Toyota pick-up truck, the radio station said.

    Malian officials had reported the kidnapping of a woman with French and Swiss nationality in Gao, but there was as yet no confirmation that Petronin held dual citizenship.

    Gao - seized by armed groups in 2012 before French forces drove them out a year later - is considered the best-secured town in northern Mali with multiple UN, French and Malian army checkpoints along main roads.

    However, the offices of the UN peacekeeping mission located next to the airport terminal were razed by a truck-bomb explosion last month.

    Mali's government signed a peace deal last year with secular armed groups, but fighters pledging allegiance to both al-Qaeda and ISIL have fought on and launched dozens of attacks on Western targets in recent months.

    SOURCE: News agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.