BAMAKO: A Swiss woman was kidnapped overnight from a house in the northern Mali city of Timbuktu, a spokesman for the Malian army, Souleymane Maiga told Reuters on Friday.
He gave no details of the incident or the woman’s identity, but a resident of the city said the victim was a Swiss missionary who had already been kidnapped once before.
“I confirm that a European woman was kidnapped in Timbuktu at 3.30 a.m. (0330 GMT). A neighbor alerted the security forces around 6 a.m.,” he said, later adding that she was Swiss.
In 2012, Islamist fighters in northern Mali kidnapped Beatrice Stockly, a Swiss woman working as a missionary in Timbuktu, and released her days later. A resident of Timbuktu who knows Stockly told Reuters it was she who was kidnapped overnight.
The Swiss foreign ministry in Berne said it was aware of the “alleged kidnapping” of a Swiss citizen in Mali.
“The Swiss local representative is in contact with the local authorities,” it said in an email. “For privacy and data protection reasons, no further information can be given at the moment.”
French forces drove Islamist fighters from major urban centers in 2013 but the fighters remain active in the West African country and have recently intensified their insurgency.
France continues to fight militants in Mali and elsewhere in the desert band known as the Sahel with a 3,500-strong counterterrorism force called Barkhane. There is also a U.N. peacekeeping mission.