French journalist Olivier Dubois said in a video circulated on social media on Wednesday he was kidnapped in Mali from Islamist militants.
“I’m Olivier Dubois. I’m French. I’m a journalist. I was kidnapped in Gao on April 8 by the JNIM (al Qaeda North Africa).
“I’m speaking to my family, my friends and the French authorities for them to do everything in their power to free me,” Dubois said in a 21-second video shared on social media.”
The French foreign ministry confirmed his disappearance but stopped short of calling it a kidnapping.
Islamist militants have repeatedly declared French citizens targets in West Africa since France’s military drove back al-Qaeda-linked groups in 2013.
It is partly due to perceptions the French government is prepared to pay ransoms, which France has repeatedly denied.
Dubois is the first French national to be taken hostage by jihadist militants in Mali since French aid worker Sophie Petronin was freed in October last year after being abducted in 2016 from Gao.
“We have reason to believe the worst scenario, unfortunately, and there are fair chances that he was indeed kidnapped by this armed group in the northern part of Mali,” said the head of Reporters Without Borders Arnaud Froger.
“We are calling on the authorities to do everything they can to put every means at their disposal to try to secure his release.”
“We know that Malian and French authorities are very aware of what happened, they are working on it. So we maintained this quietness as long as possible. But now with this video it’s not possible anymore so will try to gather everyone and see what we can do about it,” Froger said.
Dubois worked for France’s Le Point magazine and Liberation newspaper.