PARIS — A French journalist who went lacking in Mali final month stated in a video that circulated Wednesday on social media, however that might not be independently verified, that he had been kidnapped by a jihadist group working within the area as he appealed for assist from the authorities in France.
The 21-second clip seems to point out Olivier Dubois, a French journalist based mostly in Mali who disappeared there in early April, sitting cross-legged in what appears to be a tent.
After figuring out himself, Mr. Dubois says within the video that he was kidnapped on April 8 in Gao, a city in central Mali, by an area Islamist group affiliated with Al Qaeda that is called JSIM, an acronym for Group to Assist Islam and Muslims.
“I’m chatting with my household, to my mates and to the French authorities in order that they do all the pieces that’s of their energy to free me,” Mr. Dubois says within the video.
The French authorities confirmed that Mr. Dubois had gone lacking however stopped wanting describing it as a kidnapping, and the precise circumstances of his disappearance remained unclear.
“We’re involved along with his household and with Malian authorities,” the French international ministry stated in a press release, including that it was finishing up “technical verifications” to authenticate the video.
Reporters With out Borders, the journalism advocacy group, stated on Wednesday that it had been knowledgeable of Mr. Dubois’ disappearance two days after he went lacking, “when he didn’t return on time to the Malian capital Bamako.”
“In coordination along with his editors, Reporters With out Borders took the choice to not report his abduction so as to not hamper the potential for a speedy constructive consequence,” the group stated in a press release.
However the launch of the video appeared to drive the group and the French authorities to problem their first public feedback on Mr. Dubois’ disappearance.
Mr. Dubois, 46, who has lived and labored in Mali since 2015, was described by Reporters With out Borders and by French shops he labored with as a seasoned, veteran journalist who was nicely conscious of the dangers that got here with reporting in some areas of Mali.
Libération, one of many important newspapers Mr. Dubois wrote for, stated in an article on Wednesday that in late March he had pitched the newspaper a face-to-face interview with a JSIM midlevel lieutenant in Gao, Abdallah Ag Albakaye.
“Olivier has stable contacts within the jihadist sphere, he has recognized a few of them for years,” Libération wrote. “They had been vouching for his security.”
Libération turned down the pitch due to the dangers concerned, the newspaper wrote. Nonetheless, Mr. Dubois flew from Bamako to Gao. There, he spent a number of hours at his resort and left for lunch. However two days later, he didn’t present up for his return flight to Bamako and was reported lacking by the French Embassy in Mali, Libération stated.
“The report of this reporter’s abduction is one other merciless blow to journalism within the Sahel,” Arnaud Froger, the pinnacle of Reporters With out Borders’ Africa desk, stated in a press release, referring to the sub-Saharan area that stretches from Senegal to Sudan.
Armed teams working in Mali and different international locations within the Sahel have made it more and more tough for journalists to report from the area. Final month, two Spanish journalists making a documentary about anti-poaching efforts and an Irish ranger had been kidnapped and killed in Burkina Faso.
Central and northern Mali have develop into particularly harmful since 2013, when France despatched its forces into the West African nation, a former French colony, after armed Islamists took management of its northern cities.
Since then, French and Malian forces have struggled to cease a variety of extremist teams, a few of them affiliated with Al Qaeda or the Islamic State, which have unfold violence throughout the border space of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger and elsewhere within the area.
In 2013, two French journalists working for Radio France Internationale, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, had been killed by Islamist insurgents in Mali, in circumstances which have remained murky to today.
Mali has undergone extreme institutional instability over the previous yr. After months of ballooning protests over corruption, bloodshed, and election interference, a coup in August toppled the president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, and changed him with Bah N’Daou, a retired colonel and former protection minister.