3 Italians, 1 Togolese kidnapped in southern Mali, according to the mayor

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BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Gunmen abducted an Italian family and their Togolese domestic worker in southern Mali, an official said Friday, in the latest attack targeting Westerners in the volatile West African country. .

Chaka Coulibaly, mayor of the small town of Sincina, told The Associated Press that the men broke into the home of the Christian missionary couple Thursday night.

The Italian couple are Jehovah’s Witnesses and were working to set up…

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BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Gunmen abducted an Italian family and their Togolese domestic worker in southern Mali, an official said Friday, in the latest attack targeting Westerners in the volatile West African country. .

Chaka Coulibaly, mayor of the small town of Sincina, told The Associated Press that the men broke into the home of the Christian missionary couple Thursday night.

The Italian couple are Jehovah’s Witnesses and were working to start a church in the commune, said a member of Mali’s small Christian community.

Italy’s foreign ministry confirmed the kidnapping on Friday evening and said it was taking all steps “to ensure a positive solution” to the case.

Sincina is located about 400 kilometers (249 miles) east of Mali’s capital, Bamako, and near the country’s troubled southern border with Burkina Faso, where Islamic extremists are active.

Jihadist rebels have long kidnapped Westerners and held them for ransom in Africa’s Sahel region, a vast territory south of the Sahara Desert. Kidnappings are more common in northern Mali, but Thursday’s attack was not the first of its kind in the south.

In 2017, a Colombian nun, Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez, was kidnapped by al-Qaeda-linked militants in Karangasso, about 27 kilometers (17 miles) from where the Italian family was abducted. The nun was released in 2021 after spending more than four years in captivity.

Earlier this month, a cardinal testified that Pope Francis had authorized up to €1million to be spent to free her. It is unclear how much – if any – Vatican money ended up in the hands of extremists. Ransom payments are rarely confirmed to deter future kidnappings.

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Associated Press writers Frances D’Emilio and Colleen Barry in Rome contributed.

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